Airplane etiquette: the unspoken rules of flying

By Jackie Cameron

The Harbinger (Prairie Village, Kansas)

There are some things in life that don’t need to be said — they’re just implied. Don’t stop in the middle of a crowded sidewalk. Don’t use the express lane at Target if you have more than 15 items. Don’t turn on your brights when other cars are on the road.

Unspoken rules are basic, common sense and should be followed, especially when you’re in a public and crowded space like an airport. Below are some of the social rules of flying — hopefully these will refresh your mind if you’re still that person who thinks it’s OK to recline in your Economy class seat.


When I fly, I’m a total window-hog. I’ll gladly steal my grandma’s seat if it means I can have an easily-accessible view of the clouds. But with great seats come great responsibility. If it’s so sunny that I have to put on Ray-bans just to see my phone, it’s time to lower the window shade.

Some passengers aren’t aware of the responsibility they hold in whether or not the airplane cabin will be showered with bright light. Their lack of consciousness also leads to my lack of sleep — it’s like they’re shining the Pixar lamp right into my eyeballs.

So please, the next time the sun decides to peek out from behind the clouds and you’re in the window seat, lower the shade.


A wise person once said, “patience is a virtue.” These wistful words don’t seem to translate to the back rows of any Boeing 747. As soon as the plane lands and begins taxiing to its gate, rows 28 and 29 are standing up, carry-ons in hand.

What these passengers seem to forget is that they’re at the back of the plane, and have to wait for everyone else to pull their overhead luggage down, grab their half-eaten bag of pretzels andthendisembark the aircraft.

Do you really want to spend that whole waiting period standing up in your row with your head hitting the airplane ceiling and the air conditioning blasting in your face? Probably not. I suggest sitting down, taking advantage of the last few minutes of your in- flight Wi-Fi and waiting your turn.


Last, and certainly not least, is the matter of the middle seater. They have the right to BOTH the right and left armrests. Aisle people have no right to complain — you get the whole walkway for leg legroom. And window folk have a magnificent view of the city below them, so no whining allowed.

What do middle seaters have? None of it. They just get the armrests, so just let them have them.


Place your “liquids” bag at the top of your carry-on to save time during security. This also helps avoid embarrassing underwear-flying-out-of-suitcase moments while rummaging through the contents of your bag searching for your 3 oz. shampoo bottle.

Photo Credit: Daniel Spiess

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