Picture this: you have a long flight ahead of you. The plane is barely off the ground and a baby starts crying. Just like any civilized person, you’re sympathetic with the situation.
But minutes pass by and the crying just goes on and on. And the mother does nothing about that. It’s a bit disrespectful to the other passengers, isn’t it?
Finally, you get to your destination. Everybody starts moving around like crazy as soon as the pilot announces it’s safe to unfasten their seat belts. Then they’ll hurry to reach the overhead compartment before anyone else. Well, where has politeness gone?
Because of this, I decided to make a list of good flying manners. Yes, dear reader, this is more than necessary. After all, the situations I just mentioned are more common than you can imagine.
How To Dress
In the past, people dressed up to fly. Today, things are a bit different. Okay. I guess when your flight is long you should really wear something comfortable. But don’t push it, okay? Don’t put on clothes that look like PJ’s and NEVER take off your shoes.
Here’s a tip: Pick that new loose tee you got. Choose your jeans (or maybe some fancy sweatpants) and a pair of comfy sneakers. Great! Don’t forget to pack a change of clothes and a toiletry bag (with a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant) in your carry-on bag. Long flights call for that.
“Checking in and saving that to your cell phone is the first step to follow if you’re trying to avoid embarrassment or making people wait. Here’s what you should do: print your boarding pass beforehand as you can always run into trouble trying to get that on your cell (you can’t always depend on signal or battery). Or make sure your cell is fully charged so that you avoid this kind of problem” says the teacher of Hospitality Carlos Bernardo, from the University Anhembi.
And there’s more: make sure your documents are at hand and that they’re appropriate for the kind of trip you’re taking (ID for domestic flights and passport for the international ones).
And don’t forget to check if your visa is valid. Plus, when you travel to some particular places, vaccines are mandatory. Check the number of days you plan on staying in the city and the climate, and then you can pick the right clothes. Bring your personal hygiene items separately so that your basic needs are covered.
I must not fail to mention this: get to the airport earlier than it says on your ticket. You never know what can happen on your way to the airport. You could be stuck in traffic, for example.
On The Plane
We know that the aircraft isn’t exactly spacious. So, walking around with fussy accessories is a definite no-no. I’m talking about your carry-on. Always check the recommended dimensions by the airline and place that in the overhead compartments in a way that other passengers can make use of that too. Remember: you’re not alone.
Another suggestion is to pick a seat according to how often you need to use the lavatory or simply want to walk around. If you’re the kind of person who likes to stand up often, pick an aisle seat. Forget about the window seat and the skyline. Let’s face it: it is a pain to have to stand up every time the other passengers need to go to the bathroom or move a little. It’s just so cramped.
Learning To Behave
Speaking of seats, I know they’re tiny. That doesn’t mean, however, you should intrude upon the other passengers’ privacy. You’ll really let me down if you do so. And also don’t go thinking everyone likes to share about their lives, children, work, and so on.
First of all, check if the person looks like they want to chat. If you’re the one not looking for any chatting, be polite and read a book, sleep, listen to music. Cordially show you’re not in for a chat.
If you decide to listen to your favorite play list, turn it down and do not sing along, as if you were at home. It sounds crazy, I know, but I’ve seen this attitude. It’s just surreal! The watchword here is training yourself.
Not just courtesy: it’s about chivalry
Monayna Pinheiro, a student of Social Etiquette at Senac, in São Paulo, has told me that we, men, need to remember not to be polite, but to be gentlemen in fact.
“They should always give priority to women, children and elderly people. And once they’ve boarded, it’s nice to help the other passengers fit their belongings in the overhead compartment, always assuming a helpful and kind attitude”, she explains.
Remember that story about the baby that wouldn’t stop crying? So, what’s the solution to that? Red-eye flights. Chances are the little ones will sleep in the first minutes of the flight.
Another thing that’s very important is to pack things that will entrertain them. Coloring books, videogames…and always instruct them not to stand up or run on the flight, and not to drop trash on the floor. Take the trash with you and find a close trash can later on. Or ask an attendant to get rid of that for you.
That’s when the going gets tough. As I said before, some people just want to get ahead. Take their baggage off the carousel. Take it easy! We’re all civilized people, aren’t we? At the end of the day, we’ll all need to wait for our bags on baggage claim, so what’s the point of rushing?
And be patient then. Don’t just clog the way. When you spot your suitcases, ask for people’s permission before you grab them. No one will stop you from that, keep cool.
Now, in case your baggage is missing, check if they have gone astray, there’s no need for a fuss here. I know it’s hard to keep your cool at such moments, but the best thing you can do is talk to the airline staff so they are aware of what has happened and can take the appropriate measures. It’s a pain, I know, but you gotta be patient.
So, the only word you have to bear in mind all along is “courtesy”. After all, the plane is a place where people from different cultures and opinions have to mingle. Be respectful under all circumstances. That’s the key to a pleasant trip.