Flying is stressful and frankly a pain. Don’t make it worse. 

I fly a lot both for work and for leisure. It can be an aggravating experience; though travel itself is wonderful, the flying part is typically a low point.

That’s why it’s important to attempt to be considerate to fellow travelers. Though we’ll all probably fall short at one point or another (I have, many times), making an effort not to impose on others while flying will make everything go more smoothly for everyone. Here are some suggestions:

1. Know the rules and follow them.


One of the worst things to find at an airport is a person who thinks the rules don’t apply to them. There are rules for TSA, rules for carry-ons, rules for boarding procedures, etc. Can you get away with breaking some of these rules some of the time? Probably. Will you more often slow things down and impose on everyone around you by trying? Definitely.

2. Pay attention.

Don’t stand in the TSA line oblivious that it has moved forward. Don’t forget to push you bags through the X-ray machine. Don’t ignore boarding calls until the last minute.

3. Never bring more than one roller bag (and if you can, don’t bring any).

Roller bags take up more floor space than backpacks, and people with them almost universally treat escalators as rides rather than conveyances. In general, roller bags just slow everything down.

I know it’s too much to ask that people just not use them — and people with back problems or disabilities can’t carry backpacks — but look, you can surely get by with only one roller bag. The idea here is that airports and airplanes are crowded public spaces and the more room you take up the less room everyone else has. So minimize the amount of room you’re using.

4. Take a shower and use deodorant before flying.

If you’re going to be crammed into a confined space with scores of strangers, try not to smell bad. This seems obvious, but I can’t even count home many times someone on a flight did not do this and consequently imposed their BO on everyone else.

5. Don’t bring your pet on the plane unless it’s actually a service animal.

There are legitimate service animals out there, and that’s great. But there’s also plenty of abuse when it comes to people getting doctors to declare their beloved-but-otherwise ordinary pets as service animals. That’s too bad for everyone; flying can be stressful for ordinary pets, and the other people on the plane have to deal with an uncomfortable pet. (Not to mention the flight crew, who often have to clean up after pets that are not trained to be cooped up on planes).

I’m not going to say where the line should be drawn on this. If you really do need your animal on the plane, more power to you. But for everyone else, are you really disabled in some way? Have you flow in the past, perhaps many times, without your pet and were just fine?

6. Be aware of the people in the seats around you.

la compagnie
Coutesy La Compagnie

To recline or not to recline? It’s a heated and ongoing debate. I personally don’t recline on anything but long, overnight flights, and even then I do it rarely (though I usually don’t begrudge people in front of me for reclining on medium length flights.)

But being considerate goes beyond reclining. Other things to avoid: leaning over into your seatmate’s space; jabbing knees into the seat in front of you (I’m a tall person and it can be done); and opening and closing the window shade when everyone around you is trying to sleep.

No one is perfect. I’ve been on both sides of all of these things and probably will be again in the future. But I’ve found that when I do make the effort to not be a jerk, not only do the people around me have a smoother experience, but I do as well.

Related reading:

Here’s one easy way to save time and cut stress in the TSA line

— Jim Dalrymple II




Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s