With more people taking to the skies spending hours at a time in cramped quarters combined with delays and cancelations, lost luggage, crying babies and more, stress levels will be on the rise. But how can you be better prepared to keep that stress at bay and prevent it from turning into air rage?
Here are some tips to make holiday travel more enjoyable this year:
1. Rear Seat Kickers
This was the top etiquette no-no on the list of onboard bad behaviors according to Expedia’s 2015 Airplane Etiquette Study. Even when legroom is tight, be cautious with your movements to avoid disrupting the passenger in front of you. If you accidentally bump their seat, offer a quiet apology and try to avoid a repeat offense.
2. Armrest Wranglers
The aircraft’s armrests are part of the chair, so play nicely and split the difference, especially with three or more seats in a row. The middle seat travelers have first go at those armrests because they don’t have a window to lean up against or an aisle for extra room.
3. Seat Recliners
Aircraft space is shared space so ask before reclining your seat because with the average economy-class seat, the pitch between seats is approximately 28-34 inches. When the passenger in front of you fully reclines his seat, it’s a tight fit. So don’t start a brawl by jamming the seat in front with a controversial device like the Knee Defender (frowned upon by the FAA). If you want more space, consider spending extra for a premium economy seat with a little more legroom or reserve an exit row seat.
4. Overhead Bin Busters
Consider shipping your beautifully wrapped gifts well in advance, or ordering online because the space above your seat isn’t exclusively owned by you. Bin space is now truly at a premium with passengers carrying-on as many bags as permitted to avoid checked-luggage fees. Carry a soft-sided bag, smaller than the maximum size allowed, that fits under the seat in front of you, or check your bag.
5. Other People’s Kids (OPK)
Accept that baby freak-outs happen. Invest in quality headphones that minimize baby fussiness and OPK noise. Don’t be surprised when you observe parents of infants pre-apologizing, while distributing ear-plugs to nearby passengers in anticipation of potential crying.
6. Fuddled Fliers
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption prior to boarding. Once on board, quaff some water, since high altitudes dehydrate your body. Avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea which exacerbate the condition. After security, buy bottled water and increase fluid intake for hydration.
7. Entertainment at Altitude
Teach your children travel manners. Prepare a pre-packed bag of art supplies (washable), books, cards, downloaded games, coloring books, puzzles & games, small electronic games, surprises and extra battery chargers, adding fresh drinks and snacks last minute. Set up a Gogo Inflight account for wireless internet and entertainment options. Arrive with downloaded e-books, extra battery chargers, meditation coloring books, magazines and music to enjoy inflight and during downtime.
Be a mannerly passenger because airline crews will deny boarding, turn the plane around, or divert the plane if you are aggressive. Handcuffs may greet you when deplaning instead of that Thanksgiving dinner.
Editor’s note: Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author, and founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, is also a frequent flyer and international traveler.