Plane Etiquette 101

Flying can feel like torture.

The bone-dry cabin air is recycled. Spaces are ridiculously cramped. Passengers don’t always have ready access to food, water, and restrooms. It’s a fight waiting to happen—and happen it does.

Flash points include seat territory disputes, scuffles over luggage space, and arguments about unruly kids. The reluctant referees are flight attendants who are part waiters, part playground monitors, part sentinels against potential terrorism.

Here’s how to short-circuit five common midair melees:

Right-to-recliners: The average economy-class seat offers little legroom — the “pitch” between seats is around 28 to 34 inches — but when the guy in front of you reclines his seat as far as it goes, you’re wedged in. Airlines created this problem by squeezing an extra row or two of seats on a plane, but it’s up to passengers to solve it. Not the easiest thing, it turns out.

On one side, you have those who think because they paid for the seat, they should be able to use it any way they want. On the other are folks who believe the seat should never be reclined, but simmer in resentment when the person in front does. You could jam the seat in front with a device like the controversial Knee Defender (frowned on by the FAA, though no airline I know of has banned it), which is all but guaranteed to start a rumble.

The real solution is understanding that the space must be shared. Ask before leaning into it. Or, spend extra for a premium economy seat, which comes with a little more legroom. Another option: Ask to be seated in an exit row.

Armrest wars: The tight squeeze in economy class comes from all sides. With only 17 inches of space per seat, plus whatever you can negotiate on the armrests, many passengers find themselves packed in like wheat in a shock.

I recall the case of Arthur Berkowitz, who on a flight from Anchorage to Philadelphia was seated next to a passenger “of size,” whose girth “required both armrests to be raised up and allowed for his body to cover half of my seat.” Berkowitz stood for most of the trip, instead. But even when there’s room, who owns the armrests? If you’re seated next to a window or aisle, one of the armrests is yours to do with as you wish. But in the middle seat it’s not so simple.

Pushy passengers simply claim the space as if it’s a landgrab, defending it against your elbow incursions with occasional “ahems” and glares. Don’t become that person. Introduce yourself and smile. If you’ve done that early on, an armrest discussion later won’t be a tinderbox.

Overhead bins: The space above your seat does not belong to you exclusively. Overhead bins are a source of endless conflict, especially now, when passengers max out their carryons in order to avoid paying checked-luggage fees.

The answer is to carry a soft-sided bag, smaller than the maximum size allowed, that will fit, if necessary, in the space under your seat.

What about the rest of your stuff? Check it or ship it ahead.

Scofflaws: It’s true — failure to comply with a crew member’s instructions is a federal crime. Offenses range from minor infractions, like unbuckling a seat belt before the plane has come to a complete stop, to more serious violations such as making a call on your smartphone while the plane is on final approach.

It’s hard to know which rules are there for your safety and which ones are just silly. For example, the rules prohibiting the use of in-flight electronics, which are being reconsidered as I write this, seem oddly inconsistent. Why am I not allowed to use my iPad, but the pilots can use theirs?

More germane to this article, what’s a passenger to do when someone breaks the rules? Tattle? Look the other way? As someone who has been both witness and perpetrator (I’m pretty addicted to my devices), my advice is to let go of the little stuff.

The teen playing Samurai, a graphic video game, next to my five-year-old daughter? Beheading the enemy in front of a kindergartner is uncouth. But instead of making a fuss, I switched seats with my daughter.

OPKs: There’s nothing that sets off the fireworks as much as Other People’s Kids. On a recent flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles, I watched an elderly passenger who had the bad luck of being surrounded by screaming kids, one of them, unfortunately, my daughter, who, he remarked, “acted as if the plane was her personal playground.”

I did not argue. She was behaving that way, and try as I did, couldn’t be persuaded to just sit down and watch the romantic comedy playing on the flickering TV screens five rows away. Next to this hapless man, a newborn wailed. Behind him, a three-year-old with extreme aerophobia clung to her mother, weeping. It was the flight from hell for this poor gentleman. And yeah, for me, too.

OPKs are unfixable. All the responsible parenting in the world can’t make up for boredom or pressure in the ears or a really bad in-flight movie. May I recommend a nice pair of earplugs?

But while we need to give kids a pass, adults need to stop the childish behavior. Everything you need to know about surviving a flight, you probably learned in kindergarten. Use common sense. Think about others. Share. Flying isn’t going to get any easier. I know what my mom would say: “Now, Chris, be nice.”

Christopher Elliott serves as resident consumer advocate and ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler, and writes the “Insider” column for the magazine.


  1. Dean
    August 3, 2014, 9:53 pm

    I am a frequent flyer. I must say all of the problems but one have been rectifiable. Parents traveling with infants or unruly childen. I really wish the airlines would take a stand here since we are not able to achive common courtesy from the parents, maybe unknowingly? My feeling; No children under the age of 5 allowed in 1st class, or area’s allowed for frequent/ buisness class seating. This includes the bulkhead, that is directly behind 1st class. It already is not allowed in exit rows.

  2. Ranjit Sadanandan
    Perth Western Australia
    May 18, 2013, 7:23 am

    I am a victim of the front seat recliner or sometimes as the middle seater. But I am always polite and down to earth. Haow can we advice or correct the stranger ?

  3. sarah
    May 15, 2013, 4:34 am

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  4. Steve
    May 8, 2013, 12:39 pm

    I used to travel a lot more than I do now. It just got too uncomfortable. The size of the seats is an insult to passengers. I am a fit female of 5’4″. I don’t know how taller and bigger people do it. Why do we put up with the small seat size? I guess I, for one, do not. I will now only fly on Singapore, Air France, or Virgin. I also sold all my airline stock. I’m not going to invest in companies that obviously hate their customers.

  5. Harry
    United States
    May 6, 2013, 12:33 am

    You’d think, when there are numerous flights to certain cities, that the airlines might try making one “adults only” flight…I’m sure it would sell out faster than the others!

  6. John
    May 2, 2013, 3:59 pm

    1. I rarely recline the seat, and if I do, I never go all the way back. I have learned to be comfortable with the seat up, even on international flights (which I normally sleep the whole flight).
    2. Middle seat gets both armrests.
    3. I try my best to put my carry-on under the seat in front of me, unless I am in a bulkhead seat.
    4. I never engage or tattle on violations, unless it interferes with safety or is offensive to those around me. I once had a woman watch adult content on her mobile phone. I asked very nicely that maybe she’d like to keep that away from children (there was young children immediately behind her) and she was shamed into complying. Crazy, isn’t it?
    5. OPKs get a pass. If they bother me, I sometimes will try to engage the children with parental permission. I used to carry crayons and a couple of cheap coloring books to give to those kids. Usually works for 30 minutes, but that is 30 minutes of some relief. My costs? Less than a buck.

  7. shuibird
    May 2, 2013, 4:06 am

    I agree with jonbad. A 15-hour flight requires reclining – otherwise I’m giving up my ability to sleep for another person’s comfort. Seats are designed to only go back a specified amount – so, we should be able to use that feature. Obviously, it’s common courtesy to check behind you first and recline it slowly. I guess I now, and always will be, a right-to-recliner.

    OPKs – that’s another story. I was once on a 15-hour flight seated next to a 3-year-old whose mother did not bring one toy, book, snack, drink, crayon – NOTHING! I blame the mother. But, usually I just blame the airline – why can’t there be a quiet area for people travelling alone?

  8. Andy
    May 1, 2013, 7:53 pm

    Great article Christopher, I wish more people would read this. Unfortunately flying isn’t always the most pleasant thing that it could be, but I think that it can definitely be made better by people doing these kinds of things with respect to etiquette of others.

    Thanks for sharing,

  9. jonbad
    May 1, 2013, 11:34 am

    Sorry, I don’t get (and never have) the reclining issue. If the seat is made to recline, I’m reclining it. Period. If you have a problem with that then take it up with the airline and maybe they will make their seats non-reclinable. I don’t see how using a feature as it was designed to be used is an etiquette issue.

  10. Peter Foss
    Austin, Texas
    May 1, 2013, 11:20 am

    The strongest human emotion is defense of territory. We will defend our territory (lives, property, family) long before we think of sex, money, or texting. Animals mark their territory and fight others for it. This is why we want to do battle with the rude, il-mannered, ingrates, who steal our ‘space’

  11. Nechama
    New York
    May 1, 2013, 10:04 am

    My biggest peeve are people who board a plane without showering and brushing their teeth first- I spent an overnight 10-hour flight in New Year’s Eve holding my breath while a guy stood in the aisle next to my seat and talked with large arm gestures to the guy in the middle seat next to me, loudly over my head. Puffs of bad breath and BO were unbearable (right up there next to foot odor + shoe removal!). Running a close second was the parent seated behind me, who used his tray table as a seat for his young son, and bounced it up and down playing “horsie” with his kid. OPK are a PIA, but OKP are often worse!!!

  12. Marilyn
    Anchorage, AK
    April 30, 2013, 11:22 pm

    I can live with the seat recliners. It’s not usually much of a problem for me. But a couple years ago, I was seated in first class in the second row. The plane was still being boarded and I was bending down putting my carry-ons under the seat in front of me when the person in front of me quickly reclined her seat, hitting me in the head pretty hard. I yelped and asked her to please put her seat back up. Other than the yelp because it hurt and startled me, I was polite when I asked. She said she had an injured back and was in pain and needed to have it back … and then proceeded to complain to her seat mate about the “old lady” sitting behind her. It still makes me furious even telling about it again.

    I rarely bring much on the plane with me unless I have a short timeline when I get to my destination and it drives me crazy when I see people bring half of their worldly belongings on board. The airlines really need to enforce their carry-on rules.

  13. sueg
    El Paso TX
    April 30, 2013, 10:21 pm

    Unfortunately I am physically handicapped and it is impossible for me to get up without holding onto the seat in front of me. I always say please excuse me and hope people will be understanding. We are a military family and are scattered all over the globe so flying is the only way to go. I also travel with young children and they learned early on to behave. We will be flying to Japan this summer and they are already planning what to bring to amuse themselves.

  14. Jane
    April 30, 2013, 9:54 pm

    One more thing. On one flight, as my kids and I were taking our seats, the woman in front of us turned around and snarled, “If they kick my seat, they’re toast.” I was floored. All I could say was, “If they kick your seat more than once, I’ll make them into toast for you.” But I now understand her churlish attitude. It’s amazing how many parents seem to think that their kids’ bad behavior is an act of God that can’t be controlled and has nothing to do with them.

  15. ajaynejr
    Nashua, NH
    April 30, 2013, 9:14 pm

    About the passenger taking up someone else’s seat, the “someone else” should have gone to a flight crew member before departure. If satisfaction was not obtained he should have summoned both the captain and the ground complaint resolution officer. Note that he must accept any other empty seat. If there are no empty seats the airline crew should ask for volunteer or put off the passenger unable to fit in the seat(s) he purchased.

    Like the person between you and the aisle, the person in front if reclined should move to let you get out to go to the rest room or whatever. After that there is no excuse for touching someone else’s seat back when getting out.

  16. Leslie Lembcke
    April 30, 2013, 8:43 pm

    Forgot to comment the most usefulll suggestion: TRAVEL LIGHT . Only small hand bags, enough to carry documents, tablets and inflight use medicines, should be allowed.

  17. Leslie Lembcke
    April 30, 2013, 8:38 pm

    seating chairs should be non reclinables (there is no actual need of reclining and they should be a lot cheaper )
    OPK: lost war; no solution, just patience…
    Armrests: pick the small pillow and cross your arm in you chest.
    Laptops, ipads, phones and alike; FAA people should update actual hazrard,.

  18. Dan W
    San Francisco, CA
    April 30, 2013, 7:48 pm

    The bane of my flying experience has to be luggage…
    From the passenger who thinks it is perfectly okay to try to smash their obviously over-sized bag into the overhead compartment, despite clear guidelines throughout the airport on what is the accepted size (and yes shame on Airport staff who do not police this!) and thus holds up the boarding process, to those who are oddly confused about the instruction “wheels first” when loading their overnight suitcases. And to those who think that by throwing their bag in the overhead at the front of the plane, when their seat is at the back, thus forcing latecomers to the front seats to truck their luggage to the next available slot towards the back, what makes you think you are going to save any time? Just as speeding and weaving through traffic does not get you to your destination with any significant time saving, forcing your personal convenience onto others matters little when it delays take-off, or the line at Immigration is fifteen people deep.
    When passengers realize that they are not exempt from those things that will make “everyone’s” flight more enjoyable — and probably more on time — they will have little left to complain about. Perhaps Airline Staff should hold a “Boarding Instructions” demonstration in the Lounge, along the same lines as the Safety Demonstration…

  19. Nunya
    April 30, 2013, 7:19 pm

    As a military spouse for 20 years, I’ve flown with 3 children from infancy through adulthood. I can’t believe a parent would say he couldn’t :”persuade” his daughter to behave. Chris, I love your columns and I read you religiously, but I have to say, you sound like a VERY permissive parent. My children have never been permitted to misbehave like that in public and they knew the expectations. Bottles, snacks, puzzles, cards, small electronic games, books and naps are what made travel a pleasure for all of us. Why on earth didn’t you simply TELL your daughter “sit down and behave.” Those 4 words have worked wonders for me for many years. But, a child has to know that there are consequences for not doing so. I suspect that maybe consequences aren’t a factor in the Elliott household….

  20. Roadman1007
    April 30, 2013, 6:00 pm

    OPK – I cut a lot of slack to the parent with a bawling infant. Not much they can do about that and they are usually feeling worse about it than I am .
    For the people that can’t go 2 miles after takeoff before doing a 200 mph full recline of the seat, there’s always the periodic knee in the back of their seat trick. It helps if there’s an apology with it like “sorry, there’s just not enough room for my knees with your seat fully reclined.” Particularly irksome is the person that reclines their seat then sits leaning forward for most of the flight. I have no defense for that.
    I agree with all of the stated pet peeves and add one more – the people sitting in bulkhead who put their feet on the wall in front of them – with or without shoes on. Not what I want to accidentally rub against when seated in row 1 or 4!

  21. Katie
    April 30, 2013, 5:37 pm

    I disagree with giving kids a pass. Infants and toddlers are one thing but after that children can and should behave. Kids will play around some and they should, but parents also need to step in and say enough is enough.
    On a recent long haul from Frankfurt to Atlanta I was seated in front of a child aged about 7 or 8. Mom put her headphones on and zoned out immediately and did not seem to have anything for her child. Said child kicked my seat repeatedly (flight attendants told him to stop), tried to take snacks from me that I had brought on board and screamed when I would not share. And you think I should give this child a pass?
    I did not. I finally found the head flight attendant and explained the problem those of us around this kid were having. I also showed them extensive scarring I had from spinal surgery and explained the legal implications of allowing the kicking to continue. The FA summoned the spare pilot and a conversation with the mother and child followed. Mom was not allowed to use headset the rest of the flight and both were moved to the vacant last row of the plane. A nice round of applause followed.
    Sorry but children do not get a pass. I am sympathetic with parents/infants and toddlers that get restless, but not with children who use the plane as their own personal playground and the parents who allow it. I understand flight etiquette very well and abide by all of it.
    But etiquette does not demand that I ignore ill-behaved children on a plane.

  22. Jim P.
    April 30, 2013, 5:09 pm

    When you’re not actually using the recline function, say at mealtimes or when you are sitting up and reading a book: Pull the **** seat back upright please.

    I once spent an entire LAX to FRA flight with the seat in front of me all the way back. The guy flipped it back as soon as we were airborne and it never went back up until landing, even when he was sitting bolt upright for dinner or watching whatever garbage they had on the movie screen. This is not uncommon I have found.

    Also, ease back, don’t slam the seat back like you are preparing to eject from a burning fighter jet. Maybe look behind you and see if the person is leaning forward to get something from under the seat etc so you don’t half crush them or bash them in the head or shorten their knee caps by two inches. Use your infinite powers wisely and let the other people, the little people who surround you despite your obvious superiority, enjoy a tiny bit of life.

    Another thing: Keep your religion to yourself. Period. Being seated next to you on a plane is not an invitation to discuss the advantages of your version of a god with me or try to sell me on your religion or convince me jesus has a plan for my life and so on and on…or politics for that matter. I *really* do not give a flying whoopee as to your views on the current political/economic/sports situation.

    Take the hint, if you ask “Whadja think of that game last night” and I respond “What game?”, I am probably not at all interested in sports and am unlikely to suddenly develop an interest in “hoops” or whatever is currently exciting you in that area.

    Finally: Headphones should be a giveaway. The person wearing them is probably not interested in chatting right now however charming you think you are or how important your “good news about the gospel” is.

  23. Lara
    Orlando, FL
    April 30, 2013, 4:50 pm

    Chris, you’re a hottie and I generally love your work, but that’s an utterly unacceptable “hands thrown in the air” response to the OPK problem… especially YOUR misbehaving kid – ? You cannot be serious that “oh well – bring earplugs” is your best strategy. Responsible parents control their children: as another commenter noted, you get their d*amn attention, even if that includes a butt-swat to do so. Now, obviously a crying baby is an earplugs-required situation and the parent is just as helpless (and miserable) as anyone, but unruly seat-kickers/aisle-runners/etc. are not okay… nor is your daughter using the airplane as her personal playground to an elderly passenger’s detriment. How about family zones on the plane? How about adult-only flights? How about parents nutting up and laying down discipline *at least on the plane* for the good of everyone else squinched into the flying tin can with you, even if you prefer to raise them permissively in private? Daughter “couldn’t be persuaded” to behave? I just… I don’t even understand that sentence. If persuasion isn’t working, it’s time for a strategy with more teeth.

  24. Karin
    April 30, 2013, 4:31 pm

    I’ll do anything to get an aisle seat (unless flying with my hubby in which case I’ll take middle if he takes aisle). I have multiple spine and knee problems that usually require I recline and be able to get up frequently. I’ll pay for “economy comfort”, but on some Airlines that doesn’t include more personal space, you’re just paying to be on aisle. As for OPK I’ll try to make friends with a kid nearby, on recent flight from DTW to PHX the dad and I realized if she was fussy and I smiled at her she’d get silent. Let’s just say I smiled a lot.

  25. noah
    San Francisco
    April 30, 2013, 3:04 pm

    Ugh, why do we keep ignoring the people who think that the only way to get up and down from your seat is to yank as hard as you can on the seat in front of you?

    If you need some assistance getting up and down, push on your own seat! It works. I know, because that’s what I do.

  26. Shirley
    Willoughby OH
    April 30, 2013, 2:05 pm

    People just need to be considerate of each other in all respects. Be polite, ask if you can recline, ask about arm rests, don’t use the seat in front of you to get in/out (I never have to), manage your children or don’t fly if they are unmanagble, don’t drown yourself in cologne, hairspray, lotion; don’t eat smelly foods, use your indoor voice, keep your shades lowered during the movie, etc. Alas, I think I wish for the stars!

  27. Leslie Bonner
    Merced, California
    April 30, 2013, 1:25 pm

    On our last international flight my husband and I were in the middle two seats of the center four seats. The fellow in front of my husband reclined his seat for the entire flight! The movie screen was not visible because this fellow also like to put his arm up with the elbow bent so he could rub his shaved head. My husband never complained. However, it is almost impossible for us to get out of our cramped seats without using the seat in front of us for leverage (and we are small people).

    For our international flight this year we booked way ahead. We might not have gotten the best price but we got the window and aisle seats. Last year, while I usually like to get off the plane and stretch my legs, before getting on the connecting flight, it was such chaos at the connecting airport, we booked a direct flight. We look forward to our two weeks in France even while we dread the flights! Didn’t flying used to be fun?

  28. Stella
    April 30, 2013, 1:19 pm

    I find the most annoying thing fellow travelers do is the man who thinks his “junk” is so big that he has to sit with his legs spread wide, his legs in my space. Really buddy, shut your legs and keep to your own area.

  29. Jane
    April 30, 2013, 1:18 pm

    I’m with the people who said there’s no excuse for OPK, including Mr Elliott’s, to behave that way. If he’s expecting them to watch a rom com 8 rows away–he shouldn’t be. I travelled everywhere with my kids and they weren’t angels, but they were never monsters–because I was prepared with stuff to chew, surprises, intriguing games, books, art supplies etc. I know, and forgive, when a kid is a pain despite a parent’s best efforts (it happens) but most times it’s clear that the parent wasn’t prepared and couldn’t care less–too focused on a phone, laptop or rom com. THAT’s inexcusable.

  30. DesrtDrmr
    April 30, 2013, 12:53 pm

    I am short, and have mobility problems. I cannot get out of an airline seat with a “recliner” in front of me without holding on to the seat in front of me, unless there is a movable armrest on my seat. I always tell the person in front of me that, and apologise before the plane takes off, hoping they wont be too angry. I will now offer also to trade seats with them, and promise not to recline, which I never do.

  31. Cat
    April 30, 2013, 12:38 pm

    One of my worst experiences happened recently when traveling on a flight from SNA to SEA . A man sat down in the middle seat between me on the aisle and another business traveler, after take-off he removed his shoes, then his socks and proceeded to pick at his toe nails! I vomit a little in my mouth just thinking about it today – I am thankful that the Alaska flight crew felt it was as revolting as I did and moved me to another open seat near the back of the plane. The other seat mate sitting next to the window was not as tolerant and made his displeasure known.

  32. Michelle B.
    April 30, 2013, 12:29 pm

    For those complaining about not using the back of another person’s seat to use as leverage when leaving your row… I’m sorry but I cannot successfully move out of my row in a 24 inch pitch which is often hampered by the fact that you have reclined your seat reducing the amount of “walking space” I have. I have consciously tried every which way to not use the back of the seat. It’s not the getting up part. It’s the sliding out part that causes me to grab on so I don’t fall back down into the seat because I only have 8 inches in which to slide my legs.

  33. jjill
    April 30, 2013, 12:18 pm

    No. We do not need to give kids a pass on the plane. One: It is the parent’s responsibility to teach their children appropriate plane behavior and hold that expectation high. I have flown internationally with preschoolers and didn’t have any one of them turn into miniature a**holes. Two: Parents need to plan. Showing up on along flight without lots of age appropriate entertainment is a disaster. Bring coloring books and crayons, make sure the iPad and smart phone are charged and loaded with age appropriate games, bring a portable DVD player, bring books, bring favorite snacks, and their favorite stuffed animal. Don’t plan on a child sleeping the entire flight, just hope that they do. Three: If your child is truly being obnoxious, you know it, do something about it. You can take your child to the lavatory for a private disciplinary session. The biggest problem on a plane with OPKs is not the kids but the parents thinking everyone else on the plane needs to give their kids a pass. Be the grown up. Be the parent.

  34. Stella
    April 30, 2013, 11:55 am

    I disagree about reclining the seat. Of course you have the right to recline your seat. I’m 6 foot tall, I can’t get anymore leg room so I need to use the space I am given and paid for. Fell free to recline your chair as well.
    As for unruly kids, kids will be kids and have all the rights as an adult, flying is a form of transportation not a luxury. If you don’t like kids that is your problem not the childs.

  35. Jessie Odell
    Palm Beach Florida
    April 30, 2013, 11:54 am

    Id like to say about OPK, I also have a child, we NEVER allow him to behave that way on a plane or anywhere in public. The idea of reasoning with your child is pretty sad. You are the parent you get your kid under control, even if it takes a swat on the butt to get their attention. Others are paying as much for that seat as you are, why should they have to wear ear plugs because you can’t teach your child to have good manners? Bored or not, the rules are the rules, be a parent step up to the plate.

  36. Rebecca
    United States
    April 30, 2013, 11:51 am

    OPK – I do a lot of preparation for flights with my kids. On a recent 4 flight trip (roundtrip, 1 layover each way) I had brough toys, books, movies, snacks, pretty much anything I could to entertain my 18 month old. It worked very well for the first 3 flights. I even received compliments on how well behaved he was. However, by the last leg of the trip he was exhausted and cranky and nothing was working. Thank goodness for the exceptionally kind and patient flight attendant who brought him wings and just overall gave him the attention he was seeking (apparently mommy alone was just not cutting it). I think as long as it is clear that parents are doing their best, people can be quite forgiving.

  37. ouijesuis
    April 30, 2013, 11:43 am

    I think there is a time to recline — short flight (less than 2 hours, no) Long haul flight – never before dinner. I am very short (5 foot) so I consider my ability to recline and curl up into a ball during a long-haul transatlantic one of the few perks of being petite. Sorry about your 6 foot legs – you block my view at concerts and movies, I get to sit comfortable on a plane. That’s the way the universe works :)

  38. Sally Smith
    April 30, 2013, 11:41 am

    With a smile, I always politely introduce myself to any child sitting behind me. I do this hoping that they will not kick my seat during the flight. Honestly, I would rather sit near a baby than a loud braggart.

  39. marco
    April 30, 2013, 11:39 am

    Oh, and one more thing: please use the remote control and NOT the touchscreen of the entertaining system. Using the touchscreen is like tapping on the head of the passenger in front of you.

  40. marco
    April 30, 2013, 11:33 am

    I don’t believe that “OPKs are unfixable”. If your kid can’t be quiet for the length of the flight, well… don’t travel by plane. Unless of course you *have* to. But again, until your kid is able not to be noisy, it may be a good choice to travel to your holidays by car, or to avoid areas where people expect quiet, such as some restaurants or cinemas, etc. Just out of respect for other people.

  41. Maureen
    Trieste, Italy
    April 30, 2013, 11:27 am

    On a long haul flight, seats have to go back. On shorter flights it’s not always a choice because all it takes is one person to go back, and like it or not, the rest have to. It’s too tight to have the seat in front of yours down and not go back yourself.

    Personally I wish the airlines would strictly enforce their own carry-on rules. It’s just not that hard to see who has too much. (The rest of us sure can!)

  42. Dolly Cornelison
    United States
    April 30, 2013, 11:21 am

    I just flew from London to NY on the worst flight ever they changed the plane on us and instead of 2 aisle seats were on a smaller old plane with 2 seats on each side so we had only one aisle seat. The people in front of us put their seat back in full recline as soon as we took off. The one person spent the first 15 minutes of the flight throwing up in the barf bag. We had paid for economy plus seats and I know there was not any more leg room then any other seat nor did our TY screen work.

  43. KPM
    April 30, 2013, 11:12 am

    I would like to second the comment about not grabbing another passenger’s seat to use as leverage when moving about the cabin. I beg of you, please don’t!

    I am a window sitter. I don’t mind giving up armrests to the person in the middle, although sometimes my seat doesn’t have an armrest. Please address the problem though, of people who blatantly hang their arms over the the reaches of their armrests. These are not people of size. I hate having an unnecessary armrest war, and a gentle conversation isn’t always as comfortable as it seems. These are usually “gentlemen” in suits with overpowering cologne.

  44. Sylvia
    Sanibel Island, Florida
    April 30, 2013, 11:08 am

    If we did not already have our tickets and plans in hand for a month in Europe, this reminder of all the problems attendant to flying would certainly put me off plane transportation. I can only hope our cabins are filled with people who have a little sense….

  45. CKintheMJ
    April 30, 2013, 11:03 am

    I’m 6’5″ and fly many times per year. Not one time, ever, has someone in front of me extended the courtesy to ask if they can recline before simply plopping their seatback onto my knees… without so much as an apology.

    Sadly, I don’t expect the average person to be considerate at all when they travel. Recliners, however, are my personal banes of existence.

  46. Phil Vee
    Akron Ohio
    April 30, 2013, 10:50 am

    Shame on the airlines for treating us like animals. Shame on our lawmakers for allowing them to treat us that way. And shame on us for continuing to get on the planes. I drive almost everywhere now.

  47. Bari Sedar
    United States
    April 30, 2013, 10:44 am

    I’ve sat by or near hundreds of kids on flights. What seems to work best is when parents bring along snacks, games, books or an iPad or small dvd player loaded with the kids’ favorite movies. There are exceptions, of course, but kids who are occupied doing things they enjoy are generally quiet and pleasant!

  48. JH
    April 30, 2013, 10:37 am

    Once on a commuter jet the man next to me was so large I could not sit in my seat without turning almost on my side. I asked the attendant if I could stand and she said no that I had to be able to sit and buckle my seat belt. I got my things and left the plane and went to the agent, told him the issues and told him to re-book me on the next flight with no charge. He object so I sent him down to the plane to observe. He cam back and said he was sorry and re-booked me.

  49. s.mattes
    April 30, 2013, 10:36 am

    OPK-I do not accept that passengers should be subjected to other’s children who are acting out do to boredom-that IS almost always an outcome of poor planning by a parent. I traveled with 2 little boys on a regular basis. One of them had a very short attention span and could be very irritable (now, a 31 year old total gentleman!). I packed “kits”-ziplock bags-that contained a variety of food and activities that would come out every 20 minutes-about the attention span of the one. I had things to chew for take-off and landings. It is not rocket science. It just takes forethought and an acceptance of responsibility for others comfort.

  50. Cheryl Wahlheim
    April 30, 2013, 9:54 am

    I have found, traveling through the years especially overseas, you just have to let go of any expectations when you travel. Try to be calm, centered, prepared with food, drinks and amusements, and don’t expect any preferential treatment. Then, if something nice happens you are presently surprised. Like the 300 lb. person in front of you not reclining their seat. Like the inflight movie that works and is actually something you like. Like a funny and friendly flight crew.

  51. JH
    April 30, 2013, 9:46 am

    As for overheads, I believe I pay for my share of those just as every passenger does. I refuse to jam things under my seat and reduce my leg room and sit uncomfortably so someone else can bring some roll-on suitcase IN ADDITION to his/her briefcase/backpack and purse.

  52. Daniel P Wilson
    United States
    April 30, 2013, 9:05 am

    I have to agree with the middle guy getting the two arm rests in the middle. I always book an aisle seat and lean towards the aisle (I am a bit claustrophobic and being a tall guy the window seat and middle seat make me panic to a degree because the ceiling height is usually lower for those seats)

    I never recline my seat, ever. I wish people didn’t. It used to be a problem for me when I would use my laptop or eat/drink. Now with the ipad it isn’t that much of an issue other than when I have a beverage on the tray. Even then I will ask the person to please let me know when they are going to recline because I have a beverage on the tray.
    I have only had an issue once. I asked the man in front of me to let me know when he is going to recline. Well he didn’t. The cup of water started to slide and I picked it up and jumped up as fast as I could (I didn’t want to get wet) and in doing so the water ended on the gentlemen in front of me 

  53. chris elliott
    April 30, 2013, 9:02 am

    about armrests if a person is to big for 1 seat i for 1 want the %100 of my seat what i have paid for so for me take 2 rows of 3 seats replace them with 2 rows of 2 and charge the 2 seats %50 each of the missing seat to cover costs

  54. Mary
    April 30, 2013, 8:44 am

    I boarded a flight from LV to CLT a couple weeks ago. I was in the middle seat. The guy in the window seat very nicely told me that since I was in the middle seat, the right armrest was mine. That made for a nice conversation with him as well as a nice flight. Thanks Mark Z!

  55. Emma
    April 30, 2013, 8:42 am

    Most flights from Australia count as long haul. Believe me, when the person next to you smells like their last meal was a field of garlic, it feels a whole lot longer. Before you take that seat, think about what you eat.

  56. Elize
    April 30, 2013, 8:15 am

    If you have a window seat , please make sure you board on time, so the whole rown next to you don’t have to get up again!!

  57. Tom
    April 30, 2013, 8:11 am

    Michael — I thought I was the only person who understood the idea of using the armrest to push yourself up when standing.

  58. Michael
    April 30, 2013, 7:00 am

    Please add something about the annoying person that sits in the row behind you and insists on using the back of your seat as leverage to sit down or stand up! Probably the most annoying thing when I fly! For chrissake, people! Use the armrests! Don’t grab/yank my seatback when I’m sitting in it!!

  59. Richard
    April 30, 2013, 2:15 am

    As a frequent traveler, I agree with Jim. The poor soul in the middle seat gets to use the armrest as he has no place else to go.

  60. Jim Zakany
    United States
    April 29, 2013, 5:49 pm

    I defer the use of armrests to the poor sot in the middle seat.