Close this search box.

14 Unwritten Etiquette Rules for Air Travel You Might Be Breaking

Have you been breaking any of these unwritten etiquette rules?

Planning a new trip can be an exciting adventure, but when it comes to air travel, it’s essential to know the unwritten etiquette rules that govern the skies.

We’re talking about the unspoken, often overlooked guidelines that are crucial in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey for everyone onboard.

In today’s article, Adventure In America wishes to explore the hidden customs that seasoned travelers abide by to maintain harmony in the skies.

Whether being mindful of noise, respecting personal space, or being patient during boarding and getting off the plane, these unwritten etiquette rules shape the flying experience for everyone involved.

By understanding and sticking to these unspoken norms, you can contribute to a more enjoyable flight for yourself and your fellow passengers. So, let’s take a look at the secrets behind these 14 unwritten etiquette rules and elevate our air travel experiences together.

Unwritten Etiquette Rule
Photo by Thanakorn.P at Shutterstock

Unwritten etiquette rule: Respect aisle safety

Try to keep your arms and legs out of the aisle. You’ll get struck by other passengers or trip someone up. Also, the meal cart is your enemy in this case. It’s cumbersome and can cause significant damage to flailing arms and legs, and we can’t always see them coming.

Unwritten etiquette rule: Don’t mess with the window shade

If you’re seated by the window, be respectful when in regards to the window shades. The shade isn’t a toy. Either put it up or leave it alone. Don’t play with it continuously.

And if you do decide to pull it down, ask others in your row if they mind. Some people might need it open for a sense of safety and to keep calm.

Unwritten etiquette rule: Don’t ever move anyone else’s bag

Don’t move someone else’s bag in the overhead without asking them first, says the general manager of Hilton Chicago O’Hare. Those who fly frequently get on the plane first and generally have very appropriate carry-on bags.

When someone boards later with a bag that probably should have been checked, it’s never proper to start moving other individuals’ bags around or stuffing them into smaller compartments so you can cram your suitcase in the overhead.

Unwritten etiquette rule: Watch that backpack

And since we’re on the topic of bags, if you’re carrying a backpack on your back, please be aware of your surroundings. Flight attendants always see it happen: It’s easy to forget your personal space and that there are others around you during boarding and disembarking.

And you might be completely unaware that your backpack has hit a seated passenger in the head or face. You wouldn’t want this happening to you, would you?

Unwritten etiquette rule: Check the label when you’re in baggage claim

There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination only to find that your bag has gone missing. Don’t let yourself be the person who takes someone else’s bag by accident. Check the name tag on your baggage before leaving the area.

If you don’t have a tag for your bags, consider a unique ribbon for easy identification. Taking the wrong bag to your hotel or back to your home is a terrible way to begin or end a wonderful trip.

Unwritten etiquette rule: The person in the middle seat should get the armrest

No one likes sitting in the middle seat. So don’t be that person who doesn’t leave room for that poor shmuck stuck in the middle. Allow them to put their arms on the armrest. Even if they don’t seem like they might use it, make sure to ask them before you use the armrest.

Unwritten Etiquette Rule
Photo by nicepix at Shutterstock

Unwritten etiquette rule: Don’t be loud

Despite what Jennifer Lopez says, DON’T get loud! Flying is stressful enough, and crying youngsters are difficult to deal with. But at least they can’t help it. We can keep the noise levels down by not playing loud music through our headphones.

Be considerate of the person sitting next to you, and don’t be too noisy, talk continuously, or invade their personal space.

Can you imagine sitting next to a person for an entire flight that’s speaking loudly on their cell phone? There’s a good reason why phones should be turned off.

Unwritten etiquette rule: Don’t drink TOO much

Try to limit your alcohol intake when flying. After following all the proper etiquette when getting on the plane, you don’t want to get so hammered that all your manners fly out the window, and you don’t want to risk getting kicked off your flight!

Unwritten etiquette rule: Don’t be a blocker

Once you board the aircraft, try not to block the aisles, trying to get your luggage in the perfect spot. Just leave it in the overhead locker until you find a quiet moment.

Many folks are waiting behind you, trying to find their seat, and you’re putting a halt to boarding being conducted efficiently. You can also wait until the seat belt signs are off.

Unwritten etiquette rule: Respect the food etiquette

If you’re bringing on your inflight meal, please don’t bring anything too substantial smelling because it can make the flight more stressful for others. No one wants to smell garlic or a tuna sandwich in a trapped, very public area.

Unwritten etiquette rule: Reclining your seat

Try to be considerate when you’re reclining your seat and follow the airline crew’s instructions. The seats are positioned upright for safety reasons during both take-off and landing. But during meals, it’s polite to keep your seat upright.

When you put that seat back, you’re restricting the person behind you from eating their meal and potentially spilling their drinks.

You don’t have to ask permission from the person behind you before you recline, but you should check before throwing your chair back out of courtesy.

This option is created for everybody’s comfort. So before you recline your chair, we recommend letting the person behind you know about it in advance.

Unwritten etiquette rule: Practice good hygiene

If you know, you’re getting on a plane and will be seated approximately 6 inches from other individuals, consider taking a shower, brushing your teeth, refreshing your deodorant (here’s OUR favorite), putting on a clean shirt, and so on.

Try to keep unpleasant body smells to a minimum, and go easy on the perfume or any other fragrance.

Unwritten Etiquette Rule
Photo by New Africa at Shutterstock

Unwritten etiquette rule: Do you like to sleep?… Book a window seat

If you’re someone who likes to take your seat on the plane and then passes out, it’s best to book yourself the window seat. If you don’t, you’ll inconvenience the people who might want to leave their seats for different reasons, says an airline employee.

Unwritten etiquette rule: Stand up

If a passenger wants to get out of the row to take a walk or get to the bathroom, please stand up. This prevents them from struggling to get between your knees and seat and potentially getting hit in the face. The space simply isn’t big enough… And it can get pretty awkward!

Have you ever been guilty of breaking these unwritten etiquette rules? And are there any others you think we should have included? Be sure to share your thoughts with our readers in the comments section below.

But don’t leave yet! Adventure In America has many more fantastic reads for you. For instance, check out the Top 8 Oldest US Settlements You Can Still Visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

Read our best travel adventures

Related Posts

You may also like

Monuments, monuments, monuments… how many are there in our dearest America? As beautiful as the United States of America is, we have to admit…
Have you ever wondered what you could do to be able to write off your business travel expenses easier? When traveling overseas for business,…
Have you ever heard about these cities before? We are sure you are sick of all the people around you and tourism sites suggesting…