Airplane Etiquette: What to do & what not to do on a flight

As someone who has been on minimum 80 flights to over 40 countries, I have seen it all on every plane ride. In cramped conditions, 30,000 feet above sea level, good manners are more important than ever.

Follow this handful of guidelines for civilised air travel.

  • Make sure when you have an airplane kit for when you’re seated. This way if you have a bag stowed away and you have a seat where it’s difficult to access it, you don’t have to keep getting up and bothering everyone. 
  • Avoid encroaching on other passengers’ territory by keeping your elbows to yourself and bags stowed away.
  • It shouldn’t be necessary to recline your seat on a short flight, but if you do need to do so, ease it down gently to avoid crushing the legs of the passenger behind you.
a man with eyeglasses reading a newspaper
  • If you have children, ensure that they do not kick or fiddle with the seat in front. However innocent and playful their behaviour, it’s considerably less adorable to others than it is to you.
  • If the passenger next to you is holding a baby, smile and deploy all your reserves of patience. Flying can be traumatic for infants and young children, physiologically speaking, so however piercing their screams, don’t let your displeasure show.
  • Drink in moderation. You might be the life of the party after a tipple, but no one will appreciate your drunken antics in an enclosed space.
person holding smartphone riding airplane
  • Think twice before initiating a conversation with your neighbours, particularly if they are wearing headphones or engrossed in a book. I like to say stay safe and avoid conversation altogether. If you do interact, make it polite glances only. Read the room.
  • Stay relaxed when embarking or disembarking  and don’t barge your way to the exit. If it’s appropriate, help others remove their overhead luggage if you see them having a hard time. People have a tendency to overpack. Behave courteously towards the flight crew and be sure to thank them for their service. 

Want more lifestyle posts? Click here.

low angle photography of airplane
a woman in black blazer sitting inside the airplane
smiling woman in blue and white long sleeve shirt holding white ceramic mug

I sincerely hoped these help on your travels this holiday, or for work, and that you find some sort of compromise on longer flights when socially interacting with others. No matter how difficult, remember this guide on how to have emotional control in any situation.

Happy and safe travels!

For a deep dive into more social graces, come book an etiquette course with me as I guide you one-on-one through the depths of emotional and social intelligence. You will master the social and professional skills one needs to exude confidence and handle yourself in every social exchange.