Manners & Misdemeanors

14 Etiquette Tips Every Jet Setter Should Know

Heading out of town? Avoid these mistakes for a stress-free and friendly trip.

From cabins with king-size beds to private suites boasting butlers and chefs, flying first class has never been more luxurious.

Economy class, on the other hand, is an entirely different (and far less comfortable) story.

With fliers trying to avoid checking bags, and recent rumors about a new airplane cabin layout that can fit eleven people in a single row, economy class is about to get even more cramped. That means screaming babies and restless neighbors, are likely heading straight to a seat near you.

Because nothing can put a damper on a vacation like an unpleasant flight, we asked former flight attendant and etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore to share her tips for dealing with annoying airline passengers (and how to avoid being one yourself).

Here's a list of common annoyances and how to handle them:

The Armrest Hogger: If the person next to you commandeers your armrest, simply inch your way in by placing just your elbow next to theirs. This should leave plenty of space for your greedy neighbor's elbow.


Armrest rules: When you have three seats next to each other, the person in the middle seat gets to claim the armrests.

The Chatterbox: If your neighbor strikes up a conversation, be polite and exchange a few pleasantries. Then say something like, "It was nice speaking with you, but if you don't mind, I have to get some work done (or some much-needed rest)." Closing your eyes generally does the trick.

Note: Always travel with earphones and eyeshades.

The Space Invader: If a person invades your personal space with his newspaper or carry-on bag, say something like, "It seems that these planes are getting smaller and smaller. Would you mind moving your arm (or bag) over just a touch?"

The Seat Recliner: If someone reclines too far while you're trying to eat, work on your laptop, or watch a movie, you have two options:

1. You can recline your seat for more space or…


2. Say something like, "Would you mind pulling your seat forward a little bit." The person in front of you most likely doesn't know she's inconveniencing you.

Note: When you recline your seat, always glance back and make sure the person behind you isn't using his tray table to eat or work.

The Snorer: It's best to always travel with a good pair of noise-canceling earphones. Otherwise, you can ask the flight attendant if you can relocate to another seat.

The Sleeper: If you need to use the lavatory but your aisle seatmate is sleeping, gently tap him on his shoulder and say, "Excuse me." No other explanation is necessary. Never attempt to crawl over him.

The Unruly Child: Never discipline someone else's child. Your best bet is to move to another seat, if available, or alert a flight attendant. Never try to intervene yourself.


The Seat Kicker: If a child is kicking the back of your seat, simply turn around and glance at the child and the parent. The parent will oftentimes get the hint and ask the child to stop. If this doesn't work, kindly speak up and ask the child to stop kicking your seat.

The Surly Flight Attendant: It's best not to challenge a flight attendant unless you want to be thrown off the plane. If you encounter a rude flight attendant, jot down his name, your flight number, and email a letter to the company as soon as possible. Better yet, share your grievance on Twitter for faster results.

And if you're lucky enough to fly First Class…


1. Dress "smart casual" or above. You never know whom you might encounter or what contacts you might make.

2. Listen to your music/movies at a reasonable volume while using headphones.

3. Keep your window shade down.

4. Don't steal someone else's pillows or blankets.

5. Be courteous about your laptop or tablet light. Keep it dim.

6. Always change clothes in the bathroom, even if you think no one is looking.

From: Veranda

This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Lindsey Campbell
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