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Top Etiquette Tips for Air Travel

September 3, 2014

Three flights in the last two weeks have been diverted due to bad behavior (reclining-related issues). Former flight attendant and internationally recognized etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore offers the following tips to make the skies more friendly and your trip less stressful:
- Prepare ahead of time. Research the rules of your particular airline to find out what luggage requirements they have. If you plan to leave from a busy airport, give yourself enough time to go through security and make it to your gate — even if there are long lines. Prior planning will help relieve stress. 
- Don’t pack more than you can lift. The number one pet peeve of flight attendants is passengers who bring carry-on luggage too heavy for them to lift. Don’t expect the flight attendant to lift your bag into the overhead bin. If you pack it, you stack it. Or flight attendants will check it for you. 
- Check before you recline. Airline seats recline to allow passengers to sleep and relax, but it may cause discomfort for the person behind you. If you intend to recline your seat, do it gently or better yet, turn around and make sure you don’t inconvenience the person behind you. Raise your seat during mealtime so the person behind you can enjoy his or her meal.
- Be respectful of those around you. Airplane seating is tight and interaction with your seatmates is inevitable. Keep the volume of your headphones at an appropriate level and lower the light on your electronic devices so you don’t disturb or distract the person next to you. Many people are sensitive to strong scents including garlic and onions so be mindful of what you eat on the plane.
- Allow those in front of you to disembark first. Rather than grab your luggage and make a run for the door, follow protocol. If you need to make a connection or know you’ll be in a rush, try to arrange to be seated near the front of the plane.
- Hold your tongue. If you have a complaint about another passenger, don't take matters into your own hands and don’t demand that the plane land at the nearest airport. Alert the flight attendant.
- Parents, be prepared. When babies cry uncontrollably in flight it’s probably because their ears hurt from the air pressure. It’s a good idea for parents to be prepared with a bottle or a pacifier or something to make their children swallow and relieve ear pressure. 
- Smells travel. Parents should not wait until the plane takes off to change their baby’s diaper. Change your child’s diaper in the lavatory – not on the tray table.

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