What are the unwritten rules of flying on a commercial airplane?
Toronto-based Global News recently discussed the issue and I actually think they got the list right…for the most part.
- Don’t crowd the gate
- Middle seat passenger receives both armrests
- When you push the button to recline, don’t slam your seat back
- Don’t ask someone to swap seats with you to an inferior seat
- Always use headphones when using a sound-emitting electronic device
- Compromise on window shades
- Don’t keep chatting to a person if they have headphones on
Just a few thoughts, because I think the list is self-explanatory and largely accurate.
In the age of a la carte pricing and increasing checked baggage fees, I understand why many want to crowd around the gate area in order to secure that limited overhead space onboard. The good news, however, is that if you should find no overhead space onboard, you will not have to pay to check your bag. Instead, it will be gate-checked for free. The only exception to this is United Airlines, which does not allow a larger carry-on baggage when purchasing a Basic Economy ticket unless you hold MileagePlus Premier Status or have a United credit card.
As for the middle seat passengers laying claim to both armrests: I can only say good luck. For JetStar, this no longer an unwritten rule. The Australian budget carrier recently issued a press release explicitly stating that middle seat passengers have rights to both armrests. Again, good luck enforcing it. But I have flown in middle seats enough over the years to cede my middle armrest if I am in an aisle or window seat.
I just wrote a post earlier this month about slamming your seat back: my laptop was almost broken.
The seat swap advice is spot-on: how can you ask someone to switch to a middle seat with a straight face? I recently had a passenger ask me to switch from an exit row aisle to a middle seat in regular economy class. I just laughed and said no way. Her friend seated next to me could have asked the passenger seated a few rows back if he wanted to switch…
Yes on the headphones! I am so annoyed when little brats play games with the sound turned up. Of course blame goes more to the parents…
As for window shades, the compromise idea is a good one. Indeed, lowering the window shade halfway allows for easier movie viewing while still providing natural light for those who want to read or look out the cabin. This is becoming increasingly less of a problem with technology like on newer Boeing jets that allows FAs to automatically dim windows.
Finally, yes, yes, yes! If your seatmate has headphones on, please live her alone. Please don’t force conversation that is unwelcome.
I really like this list. I’d add one more thing, though: if you have a weak bladder, choose an aisle seat. I recently sat next to a passenger who had to use the restroom six times on a domestic transcontinental flight. She was seated in the window. After the third bathroom break, I offered to exchange seats with her and give her the aisle, but she declined. That’s not very courteous.
What would you add or subtract from the list above?