Although undoubtedly the best means of transport for getting around the world in this day and age, flying can be a stressful experience, as some people fail to play by the unwritten rules of air travel. To ensure that you avoid the most common flying faux pas, and that your airborne experience is as seamless and enjoyable as possible, we’ve put together a few plane etiquette rules for you to follow as you jet off for your next trip abroad.

Reclining seats

Probably the number one cause of inconvenience for people when flying is by other flyers reclining their seats inconsiderately, and either squishing the legs of the person behind them, or causing them to sling food or coffee all over themselves. The golden rule with reclining your seats on a plane is: take care at all times, and if you do choose to recline your seat, do it slowly and gently, and consider asking the person behind you if it is alright. The chances are that they’ll say yes, but it’s a polite way to ensure that you don’t end up with their knees in the back of your seat as revenge! It is always a good idea to wait until after food is served on a plane to recline your seats; that way the person behind will have enough space to eat comfortably without your seat in their lap.

Plane etiquette


We’ve all been there, you need your personal time after a stressful build up or short night’s sleep prior to a flight, and the person next to you just won’t quieten down! If someone is rambling on at you, it is perfectly acceptable to say that you are sorry, but you are too tired to chat, or that you would like to read your book or just relax. If you say any of these things, your new friend will almost certainly get the message and leave you to rest. If you do find yourself talking to a stranger on an airplane, bear in mind that they may not want to talk – maybe they are nervous flyers, or just want to relax – the key here is reading the situation rather than just blabbering!


The rules with armrests are pretty simple, if you’re sat in the middle seat of a row of three, congratulations, the armrests are yours! The reasoning behind this is that the person on one side gets the window, the other gets the aisle, so as a form of compensation you are unofficially entitled to the armrests.

Luggage allowances

Keep to the rules; ensure that you adhere to the accepted luggage allowance for your flight and don’t gamble on getting too many or too large bags on. If you do squeeze extra hand luggage on, it will be a pain for others on the flight, as well as a potential safety hazard. If you take up too much space with your luggage on a flight, you will end up using the storage room above others’ seats, which should be avoided when possible. If you have bought things from duty free – so have extra hand luggage – consider putting it by your feet, rather than cramming it into other people’s overhead space. Another way to practice good plane etiquette is – when walking along the aisle – carry your luggage in front of you rather than over your shoulder, this way it’s less likely to hit people who are already sat down.

Luggage allowance on holiday

Getting through the airport

This etiquette rule is about Airport Checksguarding against holding up your fellow travellers. First off, remember the rules of the airport security, don’t hold anyone up by carrying bottles, metal objects and pocketed objects which will go off in the scanner. In addition, ensure that you are ready for every airport procedure before you get there, that way you won’t hold anyone up by scrambling for your passport, boarding pass and other documents when others are waiting.


Children can be scared, overexcited or stressed on flights, and so can their parents! Bear in mind when children are misbehaving that their parents may be having the same difficulties that you are, as it can be as stressful to know that you are inconveniencing someone else. If children are upset, there really is nothing that you can politely do, but if they are screaming, kicking, splashing or bashing you, the safest course of action is to have a quiet word with their parents. If the kids are old enough, you could have a word with them themselves, but be polite and considerate. If your children are misbehaving, remember that they are your responsibility and that they may be making life difficult for other flyers. A good idea is to bring some in-flight entertainment when flying with children, just to keep them occupied.

Children on the plane


Try not to hang on to people’s seats when you stand up from your seat, use the armrests instead to avoid jogging the person in front. However, if someone behind jogs you when standing up, bear in mind that some people need to hang off seats to get up. When departing, let the people sat in front of you off the plane first; filing out from front to back is the most efficient and polite way to leave a plane.

The number one rule

Although these tips will help you to deal with some of the most frequent plane etiquette issues, when it comes to flying, there really is no substitute for being considerate to your fellow passengers. If someone is squashed, give them space, if they’re stressed, don’t make it worse, and if they’re being inconsiderate, think about a polite way to address this. Being thoughtful is the golden rule in air travel; think of others’ needs, and calmly remind them to think of your own.

Flying with children

Follow these simple guidelines and your next flying experience will be a stress-free, relaxing and efficient experience! Of course, you can’t guarantee how others will behave on the plane, but at least you will ensure that you’re doing your bit for your fellow flyers, making it far more likely that they will do their bit for you!