Air Travel Etiquette

I love to travel but it can be stressful. Air travel, in particular, can be fraught with challenges. But, if we all follow a few dos and don’ts of air travel etiquette, we can peacefully coexist while hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet.

Air Travel Etiquette

Do know the TSA rules: Liquids in 3-ounce or smaller containers all packed into one quart sized zipper bag and placed on the conveyor belt. Computer out of your bag and on the belt. Shoes and coat off; nothing in your pockets.

Don’t steal all of the bins and bowls. Being considerate in the security line means sharing and not dawdling.

TSA Precheck

Transportation Security Administration

Do consider signing up for TSA PreCheck. At $85 for five years, it’s a pretty good deal. And, you can keep all of your goodies in your bag and your shoes on your feet.

Do feel free to pack concisely into the allowed number and size of carry-on luggage.

Don’t think that anyone is amused by you carrying on a suitcase and a backpack and a giant purse and a giant shopping bag and a bag full of magazines and snacks and a banjo.

Each of us is allowed one carry-on bag and one small personal item. This means you, too, Barbie.

Mocadeaux - Carry-on luggage etiquette

Do take advantage of the loophole that airlines provide which allows passengers to avoid a checked bag fee.

If your suitcase is small enough to meet the carry-on standards, you can “gate check” your bag with the agents at your gate for free. This is a good idea if you just don’t want to be bothered stowing your bag in the overhead bin, are in one of the later boarding groups or have legendarily poor arm strength like me.

Do line up and board the aircraft with your assigned boarding group. Please have your boarding pass out and available for scanning or have your mobile boarding pass pulled up on your telephone and the screen lit up.

Don’t hold up the boarding process by standing in the aisle unloading every last item you think you might want for the flight before stashing your bag in the overhead bin.

Do be compassionate toward your fellow passengers. If asked by a frantic mom or dad if you can switch seats so that their family can be seated together, consider doing so. In my opinion, this act of kindness brings more good karma than almost anything else.

Mocadeaux - Bank of Karma

Don’t fall asleep on other passengers. My shoulders are reserved for my loved ones and not for perfect strangers who keep nodding off and slumping over toward me in my seat. (Seriously, guy in 11B? How many times do I have to elbow you in the ribs before you get the message?)

Do peruse the menu of “buy on board” food and drink items so that you are ready to order when the flight attendants reach your row.

Don’t order wine in a can. Trust me on this one.

Wine in a can

Do remember to use headphones while listening to music or movies. Just as you have the right to listen to heavy metal music or to watch Mad Max Fury Road, I have the right peaceful quiet.

Don’t judge your seatmates for the in-flight entertainment they choose to watch. Just because someone streams hours of Real Housewives on a coast to coast flight, doesn’t mean that they don’t also watch hours of the History Channel at home.

Do strike up a conversation with your seat mate if the spirit moves you. Take the opportunity to meet new people and hear their stories.

Don’t make a nuisance of yourself. If your seatmate pretends that they are completely engrossed in their reading, are asleep or don’t speak English, it might be a subtle hint that they are not interested in chatting.

And finally, when you have reached your destination…

Do retrieve your carry-on luggage as quickly as possible without trampling your fellow passengers and exit the airplane in an orderly manner.

Don’t do what these flight attendants did. It is rude, will likely get you arrested and will cost you thousands of dollars in fines. A high price to pay to be the first one off of the plane.

By the way, the reenactment animation in this video is priceless.

What are your pet peeves about flying? What would you add to the air travel etiquette dos and don’ts?

Wishing you all happy and safe travels, always!

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Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Ha this made me laugh but its all soooo true. ESPECIALLY hate when people stand in the aisle as you said unloading what they need while the other 200 passengers has to wait watching them do so , often resulting in a late departure. Travel is surely not what it used to be but your checklist is excellent and a sure way to make things just a bit smoother. Have a nice weekend.
    The Enchanted Home recently posted…About those dining room drapes……My Profile

  2. I would add to this wonderful list to please dress like you are going to be out among civil society. Pajama pants and slouchy appearance contribute to bad attitudes and behavior. Sometimes. It just makes sense that when people traveled in white gloves and hats there was no air-rage. Hmmm.
    Thanks for the reminders.
    Leslie Anne recently posted…Comment on Dianne Bentley is a class act by Leslie AnneMy Profile

    • Hahaha! I just hit send on my reply to Tina’s comment saying the same thing about pajama wearing passengers! I’m not sure that we will ever go back to white gloves but let’s pray we don’t continue to slide further down the “slouchy appearance” scale!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Air Travel EtiquetteMy Profile

  3. YEAH!!! Don’t judge the hot ladies watching Real Housewives. I have one to add… don’t clip and paint your nails. Counting the minutes til I see you. Try not to smoke in the bathroom on your way here.

  4. So the video leaves me wondering how on earth the fellow who had trouble breathing ended up? Was it asthma? Did he get escorted down the slide? Did they call for a paramedic or simply give him oxygen?
    And I have a confession – who was the one person in the trio who got stopped at Customs upon departure from Dayton? Yup. I left my small bottle of water in my bag … and was rightfully subjected to every single item being pulled out of said bag and placed carefully on display. Lordy. Travel much?
    My one add on would be Do Keep your socks on. My pal had to firmly slap the filthy bare feet of a fellow passenger after they slid them between the seats to rest them on her armrest. They ignored her polite previous attempts at removal. Unbelievable.
    Safe travels, Mo.
    Kelly L McKenzie recently posted…Happily It’s Not StrepMy Profile

  5. As someone who is tall, I would BEG everyone sitting in front of me to turn around and see my gigantic legs already touching your seat BEFORE it is even reclined. If it’s not a cross-country flight lasting 4 or 5 hours, then I sure hope you can spare me those extra inches by not reclining. It’s that Karma thing for sure.
    Katy recently posted…Things I Want to Complain AboutMy Profile

  6. LOUD TALKERS….I tend to have a prominent voice, but try not to share with the entire plane when grandma had the last of her boils lanced…not pretty and the description made me queasy. This person was about three rows away…if only sleep could have taken me away.
    Beemie recently posted…The Long, Lost Art…My Profile

  7. We have made the choice to never stow bags in overhead bins. This allows for plenty of time to watch our fellow travelers fight with over stuffed compartments. Of course it also means all my husbands stuff winds up in my bag. I will check into that loophole for checked bags.
    My pet peeve is that ridiculous boarding process on a certain airline that doesn’t ‘assign’ seats. I still do not see the advantage. Especially when we were suppose to have priority boarding but ended up in the Z group on a packed flight…and all my husband’s in-flight items – ipod, snacks, magazine – were in my bag, seven rows behind him. Good thing their flight attendants have a good sense of humor as I had them pass items to ‘that guy in row t5…no s5…’
    Laura Ehlers recently posted…JIffy PopMy Profile

    • That airline’s boarding process drives me crazy. And that “early bird check-in” option is just another way for them to make money. I’ve had a similar problem with my husband’s stuff on planes but usually have to just hand it across the aisle, not up seven rows!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Air Travel EtiquetteMy Profile

  8. I wrote one of these once upon a time ago. It stemmed from my five-year-old weeks later telling me that someone in the seat in front of us was looking a a picture of a naked girl (he could see in between the seats). All I know is that person better be glad my son did not tell me that on the flight. I totally judged that perve!

    Anyway, I know one of mine was don’t bring real food like burger and fries or fried chicken or even a subway sandwich on the flight. All of that stuff stinks when it can’t spread out.
    Kenya G. Johnson recently posted…On Mom Guilt and Spare Time #MondayMusingsMy Profile

    • Oh, that is just creepy! I guess you never know about people… I have to say that I am guilty of occasionally carrying food onto a flight. But I’m always careful to choose something innocuous. At least I hope I do.
      Mo Lux recently posted…Air Travel EtiquetteMy Profile

  9. Great list, Mo! I would add: Upon landing, don’t pull your luggage out of the overhead bin and hit the woman behind you in the head with it. And then don’t apologize. #truestory
    Dana recently posted…Writing, wondering, worrying, wantingMy Profile

  10. Whenever I’m sad that I’m not tall enough to dunk a basketball, I remember how compact I am and how that plays to my favor when I fly. Great least Mo! Love the part about making friends while you’re in the air.

    • Well done looking at the silver lining. I do feel sorry for those long-legged folks who are squashed into middle seats with their knees to their chins. But not sorry enough to trade my aisle seat.
      Mo Lux recently posted…Air Travel EtiquetteMy Profile

  11. The guy who leans on you? Once, I had a flight from Vegas to DC (so LONG) and the guy next to me kept scratching his head with nasty long fingernails. Then, his snack he brought? Was stinky dried fish! GROSS. I wonder why that flight attendant deployed the slide? Maybe she was bored. Or claustrophobic! LOL
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  12. Oh Mo – I always love how you mix the nitty gritty, real life hints with humor? Just when I’m taking notes – you make me smile. On this one you had me at etiquette paired in the same headline as Air Travel – having forgotten there was still such a thing. Amen many times over. One of the things I really, really, try to do is arrive early so that I can be that person who lets someone go ahead of me who is rushed, running late, stressed, etc. Well, that and enjoy the airport food and/or coffee which is usually quite good these days.

  13. I’m glad you enjoy these posts, Barbara. I sure enjoy doing them! You are absolutely right about the improvement in food choices at the airport. I love Rick Bayless’s places at O’Hare. No more Sbarro pizza for me!
    Mo Lux recently posted…Air Travel EtiquetteMy Profile

  14. GREAT points, Mo! Signing up for TSA PreCheck is on my to-do-list!!!

  15. How did I miss this post?! It is a classic – especially because I am reading it at 30,000 feet (love inflight wifi) while the guy sitting next to me is hacking away coughing – not his fault but I am convinced I am going to get it from sharing the air. As much as I love to travel, flying these days pretty much stinks. But it is definitely worth the hassle. Have a great week! xoxo

  16. I agree with Sandy. It’s worth the hassle to get someplace fun or see your kids/family/friends! But your points are all good – good manners and good sense. Especially about my own pet peeve – people who use the recliner, not to nap but watch the movie. And. I’m short!

    • I absolutely agree with you, Anne! Of course, even the reclining wouldn’t be so bad if the airlines didn’t keep pushing the rows of seats closer together. I feel so sorry for tall travelers!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Missing The Little GuysMy Profile

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