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Practicing Good Airplane Etiquette

I rarely take steps onto a soapbox to preach to anyone about anything. More often than not, I don't think it's necessary. However, after being on 10 different planes this month alone and hundreds if not in the lower 1,000 range of planes in my lifetime, I'm standing before you today, my wooden box firmly below my feet, to talk about airplane etiquette.

I'm a fairly observant person, and in the last few years, I've noticed an increased frequency of what I can only call a severe case of traveler obliviousness. People seem to be putting little to zero thought into how their presence is impacting those around them. So here are my top 5 airplane etiquette tips, and each one is based entirely on situations I've seen or heard in just the last three weeks.

1. Treat fellow passengers like you would want to be treated.
Don't open the newspaper in front of their face, don't get offended if someone asks you politely to ask your child to stop kicking the seat, don't throw things in their laps like it's their job to hold your belongings and don't act like they've intruded on your $350 rented space of a seat if they politely make requests. Everyone will have a much better flight if everyone maintains a positive attitude.

2. If the lights are out around you because it's very early in the morning or late at night, don't carry on a loud conversation.
I crawled onto a flight at 5:30 AM last week. Everyone crawled. Except for the two people in the aisle seats on my row, who felt the need to talk all but the last 20 minutes to Denver. Look around you. If people are sleeping, be considerate of the hour and don't use it for idle chit chat about all the videos you found on YouTube in the last week.

3. There is no reason to yell at anyone who works for an airline when you're on the airplane.
The flight crew's job is to ensure we all get there safely. When they tell you to stay seated, stay seated. Don't yell at them or roll your eyes when they ask if that's your briefcase in the overhead bin and request that you put it at your feet. They have a job to do. Show respect for that.

4. Don't put 2 pieces of luggage in the overhead bins on full flights.
I am shocked at the number of people who think that they can throw all of their loose belongings into the overhead bins when, as soon as stepping on the plane, the purser says "Ladies and gentlemen, we are expecting a full flight. Please put only one item in the overhead bins, and put your smaller items below the seat in front of you." And on that note, put your coat in last after the bins have been filled with luggage, like the nice flight crew asks. The space is not there to ensure your North Face jacket arrives in Bozeman without being wrinkled. Your coat will survive in your lap. Your feet will live if you slip them under your laptop bag under the seat in front of you. Trust me. I fly this way every week and have endured no ill-effects.

5. Stop reclining your seats.
Has anyone else noticed that the human race is getting taller? I have, but that's a personal experience, too, since I'm over 6 feet tall. Guess what? That resistance you're feeling when you're trying to gain that extra three inches your seat will lie back on a plane may very well be someone's knees. Do not recline your seat unless the one behind you is empty. Period.

I'll put my soapbox away now. Safe Travels.

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