The 10 commandments of airport etiquette

The 10 commandments of airport etiquette


Unless you happen to be holding a first class ticket, the idea of flying anywhere isn’t much fun. Sometimes it feels like airports are the place that manners go to die, what with all the frazzled travellers pushing you aside, grouchy security officers and fallout from endless delays. With that in mind, the following 10 commandments of airport etiquette would go a long way in making for a better trip—for everyone.

1) Thou shalt turn off your phone

If you really need to make a call while sitting in close proximity to your fellow travellers, do us all a favour and speak quietly! FaceTime is a huge no-no (we do NOT need to hear both sides of the convo) or better yet, find a secluded spot to chat where you won’t annoy everyone around you.

READ MORE: Why Twitter is a traveller’s new best friend

Once you board, make sure your phone is completely powered down or on airplane mode. Not only do most airlines require this, but there are few things more annoying then listening to someone’s alarm clock beep incessantly from some bag tucked away in an overhead cabin. I’m sadly speaking from experience, and you wouldn’t believe the death stares we were all giving the perpetrator when he finally clued in that it was his phone driving everyone crazy. If you still don’t understand why whipping out your cell in public is a terrible idea, check out this hilarious video called ‘Cell Phone Crashing.’


2) Thou shalt not bring stinky food—or stink

Thanks to the fact that there is virtually no fresh air, the last thing anyone wants to smell is that greasy burger or leftover Chinese food that you just had to bring on board. Seriously—why would anyone even think that was a good idea? I ask because I was unlucky enough to be sitting behind a woman who did just that, and got a very close look at the container full of curry that she accidentally dumped all over my lap while rearranging her bags.

Cold curry bowl on lap + 4 hour flight= grouchy Globe Guide.

On that note, ease up on the perfume and avoid taking a cologne bath before getting on the plane. Many people are allergic and don’t want to be subjected to the stench for hours at a time. Then again, eau de toilette does smell better than B.O….so make sure you SHOWER! Remember, deodorant was invented for a reason!

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3) Remember that you’re a parent

Sure, you may be heading on vacation, but the airplane is no place to start taking a break from your kids—especially when they happen to be sitting beside you. Trust me, we all know that children can be uncontrollable, but even pretending to try and calm them down will go a long way to appeasing your fellow passengers. No one paid $1,500 to have the back of their seat kicked by a three-year-old for eight hours, or to watch a trio of tots run up and down the aisle. Take a break from that movie you’ve been wanting to watch and focus on keeping your toddler happy instead—everyone will thank you for it.


4) Honour the queue

We get it. You are kind of a big deal, and your time is much more important than the rest of us patiently waiting in the check-in/security/boarding queue. But seriously, butting in line—therefore pissing off everyone behind you—will get you nowhere. Why?


If you really can’t handle lineups, then pay up. Get a business class ticket so you can go in the express check-in line. Get a NEXUS card to bypass security. But please, please, don’t push elderly women and little children out of the way with your huge luggage cart because you want to get to the gate that much faster. At the end of the day, everyone will be landing at the same time, regardless of who boarded first.

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5) Thou shalt share the armrests

The sucker stuck in the middle seat gets both armrests. Don’t even try and argue that one.


6) Thou shalt use your inside voice

Speaking of annoying people, how much do you hate getting a full play-by-play of the week’s events from the Chatty Cathy behind you? It’s fine if you want to have a nice conversation with your spouse/friend/Latin lover, but try and avoid the loud shrieks of excitement and cackling laughter that makes the rest of us shudder. And never, EVER, lean across a random passenger to have a conversation with someone across the aisle! Finally, if the person you’re seating next to doesn’t seem to be that into you…leave them alone.

7) Thou shalt not grab the seat in front of you

When people are paying good money for their airline seat, the last thing they want it someone infringing on their ‘bubble.’ With that in mind, try to be respectful of whoever is sitting in front of you. Any time you play around with the TV monitor or lower your tray table, they can feel it. And, for the love of God, DON’T use their headrest as leverage to help you get out of your seat!


8) Thou shalt keep the beeping to yourself

Hey, you know those headphones you brought on board? How about using them—properly. If you insist on playing Angry Birds on your iPad or listening to crazy angry rock music, might I suggest you do it with headphones on, and the volume turned way down. Absolutely nobody else is interested in listening. Besides, you’re going to need those eardrums you’re blowing out someday.

9) Honour security officials

Taking off your shoes in the middle of a gross airport is annoying. Not being allowed to bring more than two drops of liquid onto an airplane is annoying. There, I said it. But just because everyone and their dog agrees with me it doesn’t mean you don’t have to play by the rules. Every time you argue with a TSA official about why you should get to bring your new perfume or a bottle of booze on board, it just holds up the line behind you.

These rules have been in place for years. Get used to it.

RELATED: 5 important travel documents you should never leave home without

An airport security screening area. Courtesy of Shutterstock.
An airport security screening area. Courtesy of Shutterstock.

10) Thou shalt not unpack in the aisle

Finally, the actual boarding process is a prime example of people behaving like animals. Try not to hold up the long line behind you once you finally do make it to your seat. The easiest way to do this is to immediately step into your row to organize your belongings and get settled before throwing your bag up, instead of doing it in the clogged aisle while people are trying to get past you. You can always grab something out of the overhead bin once the plane takes off.

Once that plane lands, make a speedy exit by having everything ready to go. Otherwise, sit tight until everyone else is off so you can take your sweet, sweet time.

Are there any commandments you think should be added to the list? What’s your biggest pet peeve with other passengers while flying? Comment below, or tweet me!


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25 thoughts on “The 10 commandments of airport etiquette”

  1. Completely agree with all of these! One to add to the stinky section is nail varnish. It smells bad and I don’t know why anyone would need to paint their nails on a plane… so don’t!

    1. It’s amazing the stories that are coming out about this…one flight attendant mentioned seeing people cut their toenails. What is with people confusing the plane with a spa?!

  2. I totally agree and can relate to all of these. I have in fact drafted some similar helpful tip posts myself.

    I really just can’t understand how people can sit at a gate for half an hour waiting for the flight to board then as soon as they sit on the plane they have to bring their phone out to have the most mundane and unimportant conversation known to man.

    1. Ha! Yes, I’m a huge supporter of NEVER allowing cell phones to be turned on during a flight- I don’t care if it’s no longer a safety concern. To me, it’s a sanity concern!

  3. Couldn’t agree more with you. I also hate people that have been in the airport for hours but then think it’s ok to turn up late for the plane and hold everyone up. Another of my major pet peeves is people disregarding the baggage limits and bringing half their house on board. I get there early, I pack appropriately and I hate not being able to get enough room for my one cabin bag because someone has brought 3 oversized bags on board. I also don’t think it’s appropriate to treat cabin crew like they are lesser beings.

  4. Agree on all of those things especially stinky cheese and cell phones. I always try to respect everyone and enjoy the flight. I always see that most people are not patient al all and that’s a shame.

  5. Oh boy this is a must read for all travellers. I had a bad experience travelling from Doha to Athens having to sit middle seat between my lovely husband and a stranger who found it necessary to pick his head and nibble on his fingers afterwards for the total 5 hr duration. I have never felt so sickened and so trapped. Full plane and we could not move. Arggghhhhh. That and body odour. Please please it should be compulsory to shower before flying!

  6. Great list, it’s amazing how inconsiderate some people can be.
    I have two pet peeves.
    One is people who think they have cart blanche to recline their seats.
    As legroom on planes (economy at least) decreases, the use of seat recliners – other than perhaps late night flights if the person behind is sleeping – should be all but banned.
    I’ve not resorted to Knee Defenders, but sorely tempted at times.
    The other is people crowding the baggage collection belt. Do people not understand that standing back allows people to see their bags and collect them without banging into other people.
    I’ve only ever seen one or two airports that either mark out a restricted area, or better still provide a partial barrier, set back from the baggage belt.
    Happy travels.

    1. I HATE people who stand right in front of the conveyer belts too!!! Totally agree, wish there was a security guard or something to shoo people away until their bag actually shows up.

    2. I have no issues with people who choose to recline, after all not everyone can sit at a 90 degree angle. After all they are recliners. I have an issue with people who slam the table open and closed. Up and down and slam their lap tops on it or use it for a pillow. I have problems with people who want to cross their legs and bring their knees into the small of my back or their feet. Or how about the women who put her butt on my seat so the she could sit kneel on the floor and use her seat as a bed. Or the last flight I was on where my seat was used as a cane so that the women behind me not only grabbed the seat but my hair with it and flung my head into outer space! The flight was a 7 hours flight from 2 am onward. I got maybe 2 hours of sleep due to most of these issues. When I reclined my seat the flight attendant woke me up because this same hair grabbing, head flinging woman need to use the table. Sorry to recline seems to a non issue to me.

  7. You left out the number one item, I am guessing you are not unaware of it. The deplaning procedure goes from front to back. Period. We all want off, and this is an easy, but frequently annoying observation. Don’t be a pick or prickett.

    1. Yes! Hate when people from the back show up next to my seat. Then I have no room to pull my bag from the overhead.

  8. Don’t cram your suitcase under the seat of the person in front of you. Put it in the overhead bin. I was on a flight where the entitled narcissist behind me put a suitcase so far under my seat that it hogging my foot space. I couldn’t put my feet on the floor. I had to sit with my feet on his suitcase for the entire flight. I kept trying to push it back but he kept shoving further under my feet. Keep your belongings in your own space!

  9. What I hate just before we landed in Paris and I was actually on the business class somebody from Econo hogged our bathroom I don’t care that somebody from Econo used it they were in more than 20 minutes came out nice and refreshed changed hair done when she got out we were about to land and nobody got to use the potty And it was a 10 hour flight

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