Air Travel Etiquette

Last week, I was invited to a conference in another country. I must admit that despite my high degree of sophistication and savoir-faire (google it too!), I was unfamiliar with air travel and I had some doubts about how to conduct myself while at it. For example, do we applaud at the beginning of the flight, or at the end? Is the movie we see chosen at random or we take votes? And most importantly, who gets to cry “we’re all going to die!” in case of emergency?

crazy airline passenger

And what happens if you get it wrong?

Using my keen powers of observation coupled with my shyness, I tried to deduct the answers to these questions. I wasn’t able to, but I did find out what today’s rules of etiquette for air travel are.

1.- Avoid All Human Contact.

It’s specially crucial to prevent eye-to-eye interaction. Books are a good way to send the message that you want to be left alone. However, it is much better to have a device that gives you an excuse to close your eyes, such as an iPad with headphones.

children using smartphones

We can learn from the new generations.

2.- No Basic Greetings.

A short mumble is enough to say “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon,” but silence is better.

3.- Do Not Volunteer.

If they ask for volunteers, do not offer to help. For example, if they need people to trade places to get together parents and minors who got seats in different parts of the plane, it’s better to delay departure rather than to go to the trouble of changing seats. Plus, that would involve moving your bag to another overhead compartment.

4.- The Person Next to the Window Decides Whether to Open or Close It.

If you are such a person, keep the window closed or open depending on your own preferences. Do not ask other people’s opinion. They should have booked sooner.

own aisle

Better yet, own the whole aisle.

5.- Do Not Let Others See What You’re Reading.

If you are reading a book or a magazine and someone takes a glance at it, close it enough so that only you can read it. God forbid someone might try to start a conversation with you, or worse, get entertained for free.

6.- If You’re an Airline, Do Your Part.

Finally, if you run an airline, you have to make your contribution too. Separate your clients in groups and have them board in order of importance. Also, charge handsomely for items that used to be free, like expired small bags of peanuts. In this way, at least people will know who their betters are.

Boarding discrimination

It’s better to call the system “Boarding Order” than “Caste System”

When not busy mixing his whites with colors, Flippy works as a writer, translator, and language teacher. In his free time, he plays video games, takes photos, and writes funny stuff. You can find his humor book, Flippy’s Life Lessons Stuff Every Single Man Should Know, published by Relentlessly Creative Books on

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published with the permission of the author