How To Practice Plane Etiquette 101, From A Flight Attendant

The past two years have been quite a rollercoaster in the travel industry. Lockdowns, border closures and the increase of flight cancellations have caused many people to put traveling on the back burner.

With the holiday travel season among us, many are boarding an airplane for the first time in possibly years. For those of you who haven’t stepped foot in an airport in awhile, or those who just need a friendly reminder, here is a breakdown of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to flight etiquette.

PRE-FLIGHT

Hanna flight attendant
PHOTO HANNA JOBES

Arrive Early.

Between TSA staff shortages and extra long lines for holiday traffic you’ll want to arrive extra early this season. You know the cliché about airport dads being ridiculously early to the airport? It isn’t actually a bad idea this year.

Be prepared.

If you want to avoid being yelled at by TSA or increasing your stress level, make sure you are prepared to go through the security line. Remember to have your electronics ready to be placed in a separate bin, take excess items out of your pockets ahead of time, and ensure all of your liquids are at the capacity limit while packing. It’s also a good idea to wear closed-toed shoes for two reasons: having socks to walk on the floor at security and keeping your feet warm on the plane.

BOARDING

Flight attendant Hanna Jobes
PHOTO HANNA JOBES

Be kind.

This seems like a simple enough request but more often than not, passengers will completely ignore greetings from the flight attendants and pilots as they step onto the aircraft. A simple hello or head nod acknowledging your crew will help set the mood for a pleasant flight experience.

Wear your mask. Correctly.

Not on your chin, not just over your mouth. Board the plane wearing your mask properly: over your nose and mouth. Your crew is legally obligated to remind you to wear your mask properly so keep in mind the first rule: be kind. Boarding is the most compact and close quarters you will be with your fellow passengers. For your safety, and your crew’s sanity, ensure your mask is worn properly from the second you step into the airport.

If you can’t lift it, don’t bring it.

Flight attendants are not legally obligated to lift your carry-on bag. This is due to many flight attendant’s developing back problems over the years of lifting oversized/heavy luggage. It is your responsibility to make sure your bags not only fit in the overhead bin but that you can easily store your bag for a quick boarding process.

Jackets and small items stay under your seat.

No one wants to have to check their carry-on bags last minute. When you store smaller items in the overhead bins, including: jackets, hats, or purses; you are taking away space from your fellow passengers. We understand that you want more leg room for comfort, so please keep this in mind when you’re deciding which items to pack. Always remember to be mindful of your fellow passengers.

Use the restroom before takeoff.

Typically the seatbelt sign will stay on for the first 30 minutes of the flight. Service will also starts within this time frame which might cause the aisles to be blocked with beverage and meal carts. As a rule of thumb, use the restroom before boarding. If you’re running between gates, we understand, so utilize the time during boarding when the seatbelt sign is off to ensure you’re all set to fly.

THE FLIGHT

plane view
PHOTO HANNA JOBES

Don’t go to the lavatory barefoot or with only socks on.

I cannot stress this enough: that is not water on the lavatory floor.

Middle seats get the armrests.

This is the unspoken rule of the sky. If you are seated in an aisle or window seat, give your armrest to your seat partner stuck in the middle. This gesture goes a long way in helping your fellow passengers have a pleasant flight.

Do not congregate in the aisles or galleys.

We understand that you don’t want to lose your place in line for the lavatory or that you need to stretch your legs, but please do not congregate. Why? In the aisles, we ask that passengers do not congregate for several reasons. If your lavatory is at the front of the aircraft, usually it will be located near the flight deck door. For obvious safety reasons, we need this area clear at all times. Congregating in the aisles in the back of the aircraft is inconvenient for your fellow passengers. We want to maintain as much distance between each other as possible on an aircraft for sanitary and safety reasons. For those in an aisle seat: constantly having someone standing in their face is not only uncomfortable but potential dangerous if unexpected turbulence occurs. In the event of unexpected turbulence, we want to ensure that all passengers can reach their seats and buckle up as quickly as possible to avoid potential injuries. In the galleys, this area is your flight attendant’s work space. Imagine someone doing yoga next to you in your office cubicle. Your crew not only needs space to work but also to maintain distance for our safety.

Masks, masks, masks.

In 2021, the FAA announced there have been more incidents of unruly passengers than 2019 and 2020 combined. Out of the nearly 4,000 incidents so far, 75% of them have been from passengers refusing to wear masks on the aircraft. Wearing a mask has been  required by airlines since May of 2020 and shifted to a federal law in February of 2021. Yet crews are still dealing with implementing the compliance of customers daily. If you cannot comply, do not fly. This rule is not optional and will result in removal from the aircraft, loss of future travel privileges and/or hefty fines. You are allowed to briefly remove your mask while eating and drinking but you must promptly replace it for the remainder of the flight.

Again, be kind.

A quick reminder that your flight attendants are not responsible for weather delays, lost baggage, seat size or missed connections. Your crew is on your side and wants you to have a wonderful experience. Some things, however, are simply out of the crew’s control and no amount of screaming or throwing a fit will change the circumstance. Your crew is primarily there for your safety in every possible scenario. Make sure to treat them with respect.

POST-FLIGHT

Birds eye view
PHOTO HANNA JOBES

Remain seated.

Anytime between landing and the seatbelt sign coming off is considered being on an active taxiway. Passengers moving about the cabin during this time must be reported to the pilots and can result in delays arriving to your gate. In the event of a lengthy tarmac delay, your pilots or flight attendant’s will let you know if standing up is allowed.

Remember that you’re not the only one with a connection.

Rushing to stand up, grab your bags and pushing past your fellow passengers to rush to the front is extremely inconsiderate. Everyone else also has somewhere to be. If you’re in a hurry to make your next connection, let your flight attendants know and they will help you deplane sooner, if possible.

Wait for the row in front of you to grab their bags before grabbing yours.

It’s been done and it’s effective. Deplaning goes a lot smoother when everyone works together. Especially during the pandemic, crowding the aisles and standing on top of each other is the worst for your safety and the comfort of your fellow passengers.

Keep in mind the FAA requires all passengers comply with lighted signs and crew member’s instructions. Even the silliest rule is there for a reason. Let’s work to make travel a safer and more pleasant experience. For everyone.

Hanna Jobes

Contributor

HANNA'S A FLIGHT ATTENDANT, WORLD TRAVELER AND STORYTELLER. HER TRAVEL STYLE IS ADVENTUROUS, SPONTANEOUS AND ALWAYS EDUCATING HERSELF WITH AN OPEN MIND. SHE HAS VISITED OVER 40 COUNTRIES AND IS ACTIVELY PURSUING HER GOAL OF 100. SHE CAN NEVER TRAVEL WITHOUT HER JOURNAL AND A CAMERA.

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