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Dealing with Fellow Travelers | Tips for an Enjoyable Flight Experience

Trying to Sleep to Venice

Here are some carefully-curated tips and advice for dealing with your fellow passengers and keeping civil aboard a flight to ensure an enjoyable flight experience.

Don’t burn bridges

When someone aboard the plane, be it a crew member or fellow passenger, does something that annoys you, you might feel that it is completely within your right to point it out to them; you’ll never see them again, right? Well, first of all, you have to spend the next hour(s) with them, in close quarters, so don’t be ruder than you would be in any other situation back home.

Also, you never know for sure that you won’t see them again; I’ve come across my seatmates at my destination, and I’ve encountered the same crew members on multiple occasions. Save your freedom to be a dick for a time when you’re on line at a foreign cafe, if you feel you must exercise this right at all.

Remember that you are someone’s fellow traveler

Just like you may not want to be bothered by others while flying, perhaps preferring to catch some rest or get some work done, others may want the same. Don’t immediately start chatting away with your seatmate; if you must, ease into it and feel out their willingness to converse. Oh, and if you take your shoes off in order to get more comfortable, make sure that your feet aren’t gonna cause others to faint.

The flight / cabin crew are your fellow travelers, too

Sometimes travelers act more rudely with airline employees, especially the flight crew, than they would with the guy that serves them coffee on the way to work or the lady teller at the bank. This is unfortunate, as the flight crew already have enough of a difficult time without adding a belligerent passenger to the list: they fly on inadequate sleep, listen to numerous complaints, and are in charge of the safety and well being of hundreds of passengers for many hours. Give them a break and be respectful and courteous – this also saves you from having to wonder if they spit in your food before serving you!

The armrest

There are four armrests for three people in a row to share, and five in a row of four across. Don’t fight for the armrest. A logical, unspoken rule says that the poor soul in the middle seat(s) should get priority on the armrest; both the aisle and window seats have the prime virtue of more personal space, while the guy in the middle is already at a disadvantage. Try to share, but the guy in the middle should get it if any one person does.

Reclining the seat

If you are given a seat aboard the plane that reclines, it is your right to recline as you wish, other than when the plane is taking off or descending. However, mind the person behind you; don’t recline during a meal service, and at any other time, make sure to recline or put your seat up from a reclining position in a manner that isn’t abrupt, lest you cause some calamity or catapult items from their tray table somewhere else.

Mind the person in front of you

Sometimes we are so mindful of bothering the person behind us by reclining and whatnot, that we disregard our fellow travelers in front of us. But they deserve the right treatment, as well. Watch your knees, that you aren’t constantly jarring their seat by kneeing it. Also, and ever more-importantly, don’t under any circumstances grab the headrest of the seat in front of you when someone’s occupying it; this is often forgotten, because many passengers grab it when getting up to go to the restroom, but it is quite annoying for that person in front of you to have their head jerked back as you grab it, just to be bounced back when you let go.

Mind their personal space

Space is already cramped aboard a plane, especially in economy class. When you have a fellow passenger sitting directly adjacent to you, make sure that you respect their personal space by acknowledging the invisible boundaries. Your arms should not jut past the armrest; legs should be kept within the space allotted your seat. When reading something, like a map or newspaper, be conscious not to annoy your seatmate by opening it in their face, and make sure that this, too, stays within the invisible borders. Oh, and make sure you don’t wipe crumbs from your finished meal onto your neighbor!

About the window shade

By virtue of being the closest passenger to it, the traveler at the window seat gets to control the window shade. However, you may want it up while your fellow seatmates want it down, or vice versa. It’s hard to make everybody happy unless you ask them outright. The thing to do here, if you are in the window seat, is to pick one; your seatmates can learn to adjust to the shade’s open or closed position, but it’ll annoy the hell out of them if you’re gonna be opening and closing it sporadically throughout the flight.

Don’t tap

You are around others in close proximity aboard a flight, and it is not the right time to be bothersome or otherwise annoying. The problem is that you may not even realize it. Be conscious of tapping, whether with your feet or your fingers; a slow, rhythmic tap can drain your neighbors’ patience quickly, and on most flights, nerves are already frayed. Also, don’t poke at the touchscreen of the in-flight entertainment device too hard; it’ll bother the person in front of you, and it won’t respond to more forceful touch, anyway.

No taking your time in the restroom

There are approximately 3 restrooms aboard every plane and they must serve a bazillion passengers as well as you. Don’t take your time in there, especially when there is a line behind you. Even when it appears that you caught the right time and nobody else seems to need to relieve themselves, don’t dally.

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