FYI: The middle seat gets the armrest

airplaneNovember and December is the start of the holiday travel season.  If you will soon be traveling, please pay attention to your behavior!  Here are some tips for traveling politely:

1.  Pay attention and be prepared.  Meaning be ready to go through security.  Please read the security signs and be ready to move.  Yes, you’ll need an ID, so have it out and ready to flash with your boarding pass.   Make sure you put all your crap — phone, keys, all of it — in a bin. Take more bins than you might need because no one wants to wait for you to walk back to go get another one. A little bit of planning goes a long way.  When you belongings come out, collect them quickly and move to a spot where you’re not blocking anyone. Then put your shoes and belt on.

2.  Do not HOG the  overhead compartments.  If there’s room by your feet, please stow your stuff there.  If you are using an overhead bin, make sure you turn your bag the right direction.  Remember…other people might have stuff they need stored, too.

3.  The middle person gets the armrest. Unlike the passengers in the aisle or window seats, whoever’s in the middle seat has no room to stretch their feet or rest their head. According to the Wall Street Journal, the answer is that the person in the middle gets the armrests. Apparently the aisle and the window seats have luxuries of their own, so the person in the middle gets elbow room.   Only etiquette expert Anne Post disagreed: “There is no innate winner of the arm-rest battle. If I’m in the middle seat, I try to claim one. They are not both yours for the duration.”

4.  Make sure to look behind you before you recline. Stay upright during meals and consider warning the fellow traveler whose space you are about to invade, so they can prepare for “incoming.”

5.  Parents, make an extra effort to keep your kids happy. You may be exhausted, but they are your responsibility. For passengers with complaints about a child’s behavior (kicking your seat), talk to the parents, do not correct the child.

6.  Don’t become “over-served.” You will annoy everyone around you, smell like booze, and have to go to the lavatory way too many times to be considered polite.

7.  No Body Odor–or funky odors, please.  Obviously, bad body odor is offensive to fellow passengers. Take a shower before heading to the airport if possible, and use deodorant.

8.  Don’t force conversation on your seat mate.  If you want to begin a conversation, ask a question or ask for advice.  But if the other person is clearly willing to talk, leave them alone.  Likewise, if someone starts talking to you and you don’t want to talk, be polite; open a book, put your headphones on, or pretend to be sleep.

9. Only get up at convenient times.  Think ahead when planning your bathroom breaks. If you see a flight attendant with a cart in the aisle, it’s a “no go.”  You could easily end up with the cart between you and your seat. Standing in the aisle for long periods makes other travels nervous.

10.  Get off the plane politely and quickly.  Every single person on that plane with you is as ready to get off the plane as you are. Don’t crowd into the aisle if there isn’t room, and let everyone ahead of you get out before making a move to the aisle.  You’ll have plenty of time to prepare before it’s your turn to enter the aisle and exit, so make sure you have collected all of your “stuff” and are ready to go.

I’m sure there are a lot more tips for polite travel (sleeping within your own space, respect the lavatory, etc) but just know that you can make those around you enjoy their travel time just by observing a few polite niceties.   Bon voyage!

(PHOTO CREDIT: Bitchin’ Kitchen)

About allthingsetiquette

Lynley Jones presents Behave! All things Etiquette, an interactive and hilarious undertaking that will help you how to navigate your world with style and confidence. All Things Etiquette is an endeavor to further society's niceties, build self-esteem, self-respect, and respect for others.
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