Booking a last-minute summer trip, but worried about the hassles of air travel? From time crunch and flight delays to waiting lines and cumbersome carry-on luggage, airplane travel can stress even the most seasoned traveler.
In honor of National Aviation Week, which takes place during the third week of August, Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author, and the founder of Access to Culture (www.protocolww.com), who is also a frequent international flyer, offers this advice on the most common air travel issues and how to resolve them:
Security Checkpoint: To minimize time spent at the security checkpoint, be prepared and travel light, minimizing obstacles to safe, smooth travel. Make the security checkpoint go by quickly by emptying pockets ahead of time, removing laptop from bags, and removing shoes and belts to not only make it faster for you, but for those behind you. Also make sure that all liquids are in the appropriately sized containers before heading to the airport. Remember to always be kind and respectful to others because everyone has a flight to catch too- not just you.
TSA Hold Up: While TSA screenings are an important safety measure, the long lines and extra time spent during bag searches and pat-downs can be a hassle. Remember that being compliant will get you on the plane faster. Answer any questions the officer may have and be willing to have your bags searched. Any reluctance to do so could cause suspicion and may take more of your time.
Overbooked Airplanes: Airlines often compensate passengers who volunteer to give up their seat by paying for all expenses such as hotel and meals, in addition to giving them a flight voucher. If you are in absolutely no rush to get to your destination, it may be something to consider. However, if you’re one of the ones chosen to give up your seat, but you have to be on that flight for other commitments, explain your situation and politely refuse, all while maintaining an amicable tone.
Overweight Baggage: If a crew member at the check-in desk tells you that your bag is overweight and you have to pay an extra fee, kindly ask if you can step aside to take some of your belongings out and place them in another bag or suitcase. Once they give you the okay, look behind you and signal to the next person in line that they can go. This proper airline etiquette will ensure you’re being conscious of others’ time.
Passenger Clash: If you have a small disagreement with another passenger, first try to resolve it among yourselves. If the problem escalates or continues, ask the flight attendant for assistance. In matters such as putting your tray up and down, turning off you phone or any other flight procedure, you should not question the crew. However, if there is a customer service concern, you can politely speak to the head staff.
Crying Children: Crying infants should be tolerated; the mother wants them to stop crying way more than you do. Refrain from giving the parents long glares- they know their child is being loud and your stare won’t stop it. In the case of older children, try blocking them out with headphones or earmuffs before talking to the parents if the problem persists.
Uncomfortable Arrangements: You have a right to be comfortable, and issues such as seat-kicking, inconsiderate neighbors, and loud media should be addressed by a flight attendant. The staff is trained on how to deal with these problems in the most inoffensive way possible. Tell a member of the crew about your problem and they will take care of it.