Travel Etiquette: By Plane

The stunning Taygan of the Dear Mr. Rabbit Blog is about to head off on a massive adventure and she asked if I had any advice in regards to travel etiquette. So Here is the first in the series – Travel Etiquette: By Plane.

Vintage TWA ad

A big thanks to the lovely Jessica of Chronically Vintage for pointing me to THIS vintage ad source

“Travel by air has become commonplace. Transport and Clipper planes leave their airports – bad storms alone preventing – with the regularity of trains and steamships. General rules of courtesy are, of course, the same in a plane as in a Pullman- or a bus.”

 – Emily Post’s Etiquette (1945 Edition)

Unfortunately my vintage etiquette books offer little that would help the modern traveller in regards to etiquette. So for help I will turn to the latest edition of Miss Post’s Etiquette (18th Edition).


“The courteous traveller is prepared for both airline check-in and security screening. Ask the airline about size and weight limits for carry-on and checked luggage and the number of pieces currently allowed. Have your photo ID and travel documents readily available and all your luggage tagged with your name, address, and phone number. If you have an electronic ticket, you may be able to print your boarding pass before you leave.”

– Emily Post’s Etiquette (18th Edition)

First of all before you leave home make sure you have your passports, id, itineraries and tickets all handy. I personally use a travel folio wallet (and believe me this came in handy when we went on holiday to Sydney & the Gold Coast last year).

Ciao Bella - Travel Document Wallet

I personally own this cute lilac leather travel wallet from Ciao Bella

Being organised well before you get to the counter is not only the polite, but the smart thing to do. Do you really want to spend your time fumbling at the counter trying to find everything when you could be through security and drinking in the airport bar? I didn’t think so.

Invest in a set of scales for at home and weigh your luggage before you leave. Making sure you know the baggage limits and adhering to them will save you time, energy and money. I ended up over the limit earlier in the year and not only looked ridiculous going through security in my fur (anything I could wear they wouldn’t weigh) but I had to throw out my makeup case….which I forgot had my first set of real pearls which were given to me on mothers day and I also had people who were extremely irritated in line behind me as I pulled stuff out of my case in an attempt to lighten my bag.

Make sure you are on time – or preferably early! I personally have a lot of anxiety and to add that when I am travelling I rarely have the money to just pay to get on the next flight. So I am always earrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrllllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. Then when my train/bus/taxi gets cancelled/delayed/stuck in traffic, I still generally end up there early. Bring a book or a magazine or plan to have a nice cocktail in the bar to kill the time between check-in and your flight. I promise you this will make you trip a million times nicer.


“If your flight is delayed or something went wrong on your way to check in, try to keep calm and be pleasant; the counter agent isn’t responsible for the bad weather that caused the delay or the plane’s mechanical problems.”

– Emily Post’s Etiquette (18th Edition)

While delays are frustrating, I promise you, the people at the counter are not only not responsible, but just as frustrated as you.

“If a screener gives you a thorough wanding or goes through personal items in your bag, be patient. Remind yourself that the screener is just doing her job.”

– Emily Post’s Etiquette (18th Edition)

EVERY. SINGLE.TIME. I fly, I get selected for the “random” bomb testing. I actually like knowing people are testing these things. I am always polite as they are doing their job and keeping us safe. Getting huffy with them is a big no-no. To get through security quicker – consider making sure belts and anything metallic are either put in your carry on and sent through the xray or left in your luggage. Slip on shoes can also do wonders. If you do wear a girdle/garter belt with metal straps – be prepared to flash them to the security guard!

Also a big no-no – NO JOKING ABOUT TERRORISM! My mum decided to start yelling about snakes on a plane when my brothers toy snake was confiscated by security. She came very close to being locked up for questioning. It is not a joking matter and security staff have to take these matters seriously.

Vintage TWA ad

Try to limit yourself to just one Martini

I also want to suggest that you refrain from becoming intoxicated. While I have suggested a cocktail at the bar once or twice, try to keep it to one. I have flown with people so drunk I could smell it from rows away. It isn’t pleasant and not only that – people tend to be ruder, less alert and harder to contain when drunk. For my sake, if no one else’s, please please don’t become raging drunk before/during your flight.


When you are at the gate – please, please, don’t take up more seats than necessary. Bags really don’t mind sitting on the floor. If it is crowded considered sliding your bag under your seat (but don’t forget it!). If you are sitting with seats either side you, and a group comes along, consider moving so that the empty seats are together. It is the polite thing to do (or risk having them try to talk over the top of you).

“Each airline has its own system for boarding passengers. Board the plane only when your row or group number is called— the more closely passengers follow instructions, the more quickly everyone will be settled in their seats. Pushing ahead or jumping the line is rude. As you walk through the Jetway to the plane, keep your place and be particularly patient with elderly or infirm passengers. They aren’t being slow by choice.”

– Emily Post’s Etiquette (18th Edition)

Miss Post and family have this etiquette thing DOWN! This a thousand times. I promise the plane won’t leave without you if you have to wait behind someone who is a bit slow moving.

Once you are on, store your bags quickly and take your seat. Remember that all luggage needs to be stowed over head or under the seat during take off and landing. I generally take on a handbag (filled with the things I will need through the flight) and my carry on (I rarely fly with checked baggage any more). As soon as I have stowed my carry on overhead, I take my seat and put all the things I will likely want to have at hand in the seat pocket (for me this is a book, ipod and water bottle). That way I don’t have to try to dig my bag out from underneath every time I need something.

If you haven’t already  – now is the time to switch your phone/ipod/laptop to flight mode and turn it off. These are the rules and they are there for a reason. Even I don’t need to get in one last tweet that badly!

“Airplane Etiquette 101

Here are some basic plane manners that apply under most circumstances: 

• If you have an aisle seat, keep your elbow or foot from protruding into the aisle.

• If the person in the aisle seat is sleeping and you need to get out of your row, softly say, “Excuse me,” and, if necessary, tap him lightly on the arm. It’s perfectly okay to wake someone as long as you do it gently.

• Be understanding if a passenger in your row repeatedly asks you to let her out— there could be a medical reason. You might offer to switch seats for her comfort and yours.

• Keep any work materials you’re using from overflowing into your seatmate’s space. 

• Don’t surreptitiously read the worksheets or laptop screen of the person beside you.

• Keep noise to a minimum, whether talking with a passenger or reading a book to a child. If you or your child plays a video game or watches a movie on a laptop, use the headset or your ear buds. Your neighbour shouldn’t be able to hear it.

• Don’t stay too long in the lavatory; the full makeover can wait until you’ve landed. Leave the space neat and clean.

• Try not to block the view of those who are watching the movie or other entertainment. If you must stand to retrieve something from the overhead bin, be as quick as possible.”

– Emily Post’s Etiquette (18th Edition)

In regards to movies on your laptop – please consider those around you. I won’t lie, I was horribly embarrassed when an episode of a tv show I was watching had so much sex in it  and the little old lady next to me kept shooting me death stares. I kept thinking it would be all over and then it would start up again. I finally decided to shut it down and took my headphones out – and realised, my headphones weren’t in properly. The whole plane had been listening to sex noises coming from my computer. Consider loading your ipod/laptop with g rated stuff just in case. (also note: put your porn in a different folder to your tv shows/movies….it seems I am the queen of classy. Note: I no longer use my laptop at all when I fly).

Noisy kids and babies on flights can be a pain in the butt….but again, I promise you the parents would do anything to make it stop too. Best bet is to buy yourself a pair of ear plugs if you think it will be a problem. I have a white noise app on my iphone that I listen to that blocks everything else out. Getting cranky will not help.


“After the plane touches down and the seat belt lights go off, it really doesn’t do any good to jump up and crowd the aisles. If you need to get off quickly because you have to make a tight connection, however, tell a flight attendant before the plane makes its final descent; he or she might be able to seat you closer to the front or make an announcement asking other passengers to wait. If not, inform the people around you of your situation and ask if they mind letting you go first. Be sure to thank those who help you out. Be considerate of others who are in the same predicament. When it is time to go, don’t push yourself past people in the aisle. And if someone elbows past you from behind, try to let him pass. If you get separated from a travelling companion, stand aside in the Jetway to wait for her; otherwise, reconnect in the terminal.”

– Emily Post’s Etiquette (18th Edition)

Travel can be so stressful and it can be so easy to lose your cool, but if you can keep your head and just relax and be polite it is much nicer.

Lastly, remember those around you. The last time a flew a lady in a wheel chair was deposited by the gate and left unattended. Security had removed her shoes and she was struggling to put them back on. I asked if she needed a hand and after I did up her shoes she was just so grateful and teary and wanted to tell me what a great person I was. THIS is why etiquette matters. Not because you get praise, but because the world has become so self centred that a polite offer of help is met with total shock. We all need a little hand sometimes. We all have bad days.

Any other tips to share ladies?

Miss Fairchild xoxo

stay tuned for more in my travel series….

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16 Responses to Travel Etiquette: By Plane

  1. Sesame says:

    Again, what a great post on etiquette! Much needed as well, as it appears to me…

    I usually do stick to all these rules of etiquette already, except for one, unfortunately: Being early. However, I find it difficult at times to stay friendly with the airport staff, especially the screeners, as many of them often behave in a quite unfriendly way, I think. I always try to be brave and meet a stern, bad-tempered gaze with a smile in hope to remind people that smiling makes life easier, but sometimes, I feel, it’s just not possible not to remain friendly.

    Thanks for this interesting read!

    ~ Sesame

  2. Kristian says:

    I LOVE reading about etiquette! And this is all so true! I find it so incomprehensible why people are rude to workers who are not in control of what went wrong, whether it is ppl in airports or waitresses or whatever.

  3. Such good advice. I have been in the midst of delays and broken planes so often and a smile on my face and an understanding tone with the counter girls has always moved me right along to the next plane! It’s not their fault and a smile can go such a long way.

  4. Helga says:

    I am sniggering about the sex noises coming out of your computer…..
    Excellent post, and all so, SO apt! I expect it all comes down to good old fashioned manners, but as these are something many lack in this day and age…..well.
    I’m always early too, I have a real thing about time!
    I suspect I may have been Emily Post in a past life, I am nodding to every word of wisdom, especially as I apply all this to everyday life, not just travel! So much excellent advice, I couldn’t possibly add a thing!
    My G used to get searched every time we flew, as he has the cheek to have long hair…..according to a customs worker friend of his elder brother, he ticks all the boxes. But-they must have changed them, as he has managed to avoid it for while now!
    LOVE that first TWA poster.
    Crikey, now I’ve started, you’ll never shut me up! XXX

    • I am still dying of embarrassment – and I am not easily embarrassed.

      Ohhh – if you are a reincarnation of Emily Post that would be awesome. She is like my favourite person in the world LOL.

      My hubby definitely gets pulled out every time he flies (he is a big, crazy haired, bushy bearded man), but when we went on holidays as a family we didn’t get stopped once – except when he got exasperated from us going through security.

  5. Teresa says:

    Excellent points and oh my… the sex noises coming from your computer. Classic!

  6. Taygan says:

    This is so great, and hilarious!
    I’ll definitely make sure to take these points on board (although to be honest, I usually do anyway)..
    I’m also off to buy a travel wallet now, I was wondering what to do with all of the random bits of paper, itineraries, spare passport photos etc that need to come with me.
    Thank you so much! I can’t wait to read the next one!! xx

  7. nessbow says:

    I actually applauded when I read your final paragraph. It’s so true: people have become so starved of basic courtesy that it comes as a shock when somebody behaves in a polite, helpful manner. It’s quite sad actually. How awesome of you to write posts like this to highlight the importance of courtesy and manners.

  8. The Quirky Quaintrelle says:

    More thought fodder for when I embark on my travels tomorrow! The last paragraph really touched my heart. What a sad indictment on society. At least you’re doing something to bring common courtesy back – go Jess!!

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