Etiquette 101 for Airline Passengers and Flight Attendants

There have been lots of airline stories lately about minor irritations escalating into big blow-ups, so the buzz about my recent ABC column on Charm School for Travelers doesn't really surprise me. Some of the highlights and sample classes of my imaginary curriculum.

LISTEN: Quiet, please. Etiquette class is now in session.

  • Etiquette 101 – Don't Yell, Don't Touch

During an Emirates flight from London to Dubai, a British man allegedly jumped from his seat, threw food around the cabin and threatened to kill a flight attendant. No surprise then that he is now making his way through the Dubai justice system (he denies everything). Supposedly the flight attendant was threatened because she cut off the man's alcoholic beverages.

  • Beverages 102 – Don't Drink Too Much

A 35 year old U.S. woman has reportedly pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly on a recent British Airways flight. She was accused of assaulting the  crew (and drawing blood) and also threatening to kill them. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this incident is that the woman – who escaped prison time but received a hefty fine – was herself a former flight attendant.

  • Diplomacy 103 – Give the Passengers a Break

Passengers on a recent American flight claimed they were stuck on the hot tarmac of Los Angeles International for several hours (the airline said, just two). Whatever the length, those on board told a local TV station it was a hell flight because no one, including flight attendants and pilots clued them in to what was happening. Although airlines have gotten better about sharing information in recent years, it appears there's room for improvement. Besides, who wants passengers blabbing to the media about hell flights?

  • Reclining 104A – Plane Seat Etiquette

If someone in front of you reclines and you don't want them to do this, try talking it over first. Do not yell and do not throw a drink in anyone's face or the flight could get diverted and both of you could get kicked off the plane (as happened on a recent United flight). More dos and don'ts:

  • Don't use a Knee Defender gadget to keep the seat in front of you from reclining; airlines don't allow this.
  • Don't recline non-stop after the person seated behind you has calmly asked you not to.

Do work it out like the grown-ups you are. You could even swap seatsbut if all else fails, let the flight attendant handle it.

  • Reclining 104B – Plane Seat Etiquette for Dummies

Fly Allegiant or Spirit. These airline seats don't recline at all.

Rick Seaney
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