Holiday Travel Etiquette....Commentary

While air travel has shrunk our world, it has the opposite effect on our life experience.  Bringing an appreciation of different cultures, food, and languages all within one day of travel.   This time of year, many people are traveling by air to see family and friends for the holiday season.  Which means crowded airports and airplanes.

Most problems occur on the airplane because of cramped, overcrowded coach sections.  Airline etiquette missteps usually center on luggage, personal space, and talking.

Personal space is usually the biggest issue on in flight travel.  Remember that your armrest is the one to the left.  Armrests are needed for helping you get up and down from your seat, resting an arm on, and also serves as an indicator of where your space ends and another's begins.

Another invader of personal space is bringing a broad sheet newspaper (Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe) to read on the plane.  It's okay in the terminal, but violates personal space rules.  A magazine or book is the perfect size reading material to take on a plane.

The biggest pet peeve that I ran across in finding the information in this article was reclining seats.  It's okay on a long flight, say of five hours or more, as long as you ask the person behind you.  There is even a device that flyers can purchase to put on the back of the seat in front of you so that that person cannot recline their seat.  Although, that breaks many etiquette rules itself, it's important that we keep in mind that some people may have long legs, knee injuries, or need to use a laptop in flight that a reclined chair would make much more difficult.

Some people look forward to meeting strangers and befriending them on a plane, others don't.  Know when the conversation is becoming one sided.  Read body language and eye contact to see if he or she wants to continue a conversation with you or if they would just like to finish their book.

You are not invading personal space by using an ipod or walkman on the plane, as long as you keep the volume at a reasonable level.  Another inconvenience is people who drink two cups of coffee before they board the plane and have some soft drinks while on board and request a window seat.    Be reasonable with what you drink and if you have a weak bladder, request an aisle seat.

Store carry on luggage in an overhead bin in your section.  Some people like to put their baggage up front so they don't not have to carry it all the way back to their seat.  When this happens, the people who sit in front do not have room to store their carry on's and have to store it in the back of the plane, which means when the aircraft lands, people up front have to get their luggage in the back and this puts everyone in the plane at a disadvantage.

Last, when children are flying, know that they are excited and it's hard to stay seated for hours at a time for any of us, especially them.  Parents, bring books and quiet toys for these young ones and guard them form kicking the seat in front of them.

Flying is an experience, for old and young alike.  The rewards far outweigh any inconveniences that may turn up from time to time.