Airplane Protocol: Put Friendly Back into Travel

If you have had the opportunity to fly lately, you may have noticed that there is very little “friendly” in the sky.  In fact, flying has become rather chaotic and abrasive at times.  Passengers are shuffled from line to line and expected to maintain a calm disposition when told that a flight has been canceled or delayed for some ambiguous reason. 

There was a time when flying was considered prestigious and elegant, reserved for only those who could afford a little luxury.  People got dressed up and enjoyed a lovely meal in between destinations.  If a snafu presented itself, people were treated to an upgrade or a sincere apology that was accompanied by a complimentary beverage, at the least. 

Those days seem to be long gone. Nevertheless, there is still proper protocol for flying.  If everyone paid a little more attention to being polite, perhaps it might reduce frustrations and improve the overall experience.

Here are a few recommendations to consider:

  1. Wait your turn.
  2. Don’t fill the overhead compartment because you don’t want to pay for your oversized bag. 
  3. Arrive early enough to be civilized when disruptions and changes present themselves. Being unkind to other passengers and airline staff because you didn’t allow for yourself enough time is rude.
  4. If you are sitting next to someone who has been separated from his or her travel partner, offer to switch seats. 
  5. If you notice someone who is uncomfortable in a center or window seat, offer to switch seats.  Occasionally someone gets a seat that is obviously too confining.  Be kind. 
  6. Turn off your cell phones and computers when requested. 
  7. If you are traveling with small children, do your best to keep them occupied. 
  8. Be considerate when bringing food onto the plane.  Strong smelling food can be nauseating to those around you. 
  9. Be careful with alcohol.  You may be on vacation, but the passenger next to you might be getting ready for an important meeting.
  10. Be considerate and polite of those around you.  Ask before you drop your seat back.  Use please and thank you to flight attendants. Let passengers who are late for a connection depart the plane before you. 

Flying can be challenging these days, but a little politeness goes a long way.  Although we can't control late or canceled flights or how the airlines' staff treat us, we can control how we respond to these situations and to each other.  

Colleen Harding

Hello my name is Colleen Harding.  I am the founder for the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol.  I started my company 7 years to address a niche and a need for protocol training.  I received two certifications from the American School of Protocol in traditional etiquette and corporate training.  Today, I work with individuals, schools, companies and organizations that recognize the importance of social polish in daily life and the corporate world.

I spent 22 years in the corporate arena as an outside sales representative with 15 years in Broadcast Sales.  I recognize the competitive advantage a person has when they respect etiquette and have received protocol training. 

I am a Bay Village resident.  Graduated from Magnificat High School and The Ohio State University. 

I am an active volunteer for the Westside Catholic Center, St Raphael Women’s Guild and Village Foundation Board Member.

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Volume 3, Issue 9, Posted 2:48 PM, 03.04.2016