Air Travel Etiquette: 7 Tips to Keep it Chill

Air Travel Etiquette: 7 Tips to Keep it Chill

Have you heard the saying “that the journey is as important as the destination”? Air travel etiquette can seem like a lost art these days. We’re all in a hurry to get where we’re going. Many of us are excited. All of us want the journey to be as painless as possible, and some of us want it to be fun. Here are seven hot-take air travel etiquette refreshers that will keep things on the chill side for everyone. 

Tip 1. Be prepared at security  

There’s some new technology in airports, but overall, not a lot has changed here since pre-pandemic days.  Shoes, coats and clear plastic liquid bags in the bin. Any food in the bin. No drinks can go through with you – and that includes bottles of water. Belts off and nothing in your pockets. Laptops or electronics in a separate bin. It’s great to know the basics so that you can have yourself ready to do the security dance. To not hold up the line, be prepared. Wear shoes that are easy to slip off and on. Have the items that need to go in the bin within easy reach so that you can move through quickly.

Tip 2. Don’t rush the gate

When they start the boarding process, don’t rush the gate. Make way for people to come through and board when their section is called. Don’t get territorial if someone merges in front of you. We’re all going to get on the plane.

Tip 3. Don’t monopolize the overhead bins

If your bag, purse or shopping bag can fit under the seat in front of you, put it there. Save the overhead bins for larger rolling bags first, then if there’s room once everyone has boarded, feel free to move your small backpack or coat up top. 

Tip 4. Be empathetic to middle seat flyers 

There’s trauma enough in being in a middle seat between people you probably don’t know.  Let’s give middle-seaters elbow room and let them take the arm rests. 

Tip 5. Don’t always recline your seat

This is a big one. To do it or not to do it?  Use your judgement on this one. When in doubt, I never do it. If you are on a packed economy flight and there is a tall adult behind you, I wouldn’t do it. When the person behind you has their laptop out, don’t do it. If the woman behind you is juggling a little kid, choose not to do it. Look around and be courteous. We’re all locked in this flying can together. 

carryon walkway

Tip 6. Don’t charge the exit upon landing 

When the captain makes an announcement that several people have tight connections and we should let them deplane first, let them deplane first. This means staying seated. Standing in the aisle and grabbing down all of your luggage before the door is even open is not helpful. The best etiquette is to take it row by row. 

Tip 7. Don’t crowd the luggage belt

You’ve seen it. Everyone standing knee to metal, as close to the belt as possible to look for their bags. Unfortunately this means a bunch of other people can’t see anything at all. And they most definitely can’t easily reach in to grab their luggage from the belt. It’s best to step back so we can all see what’s coming. Make room for others to reach in and pull their 100 pound bag off the moving belt without having to knock you out of the way or worse, misjudge things and have to wait for it to come around again.


Can you tell these travel etiquette tips are linked to MY biggest pet peeves? I realize my sarcasm abounds here but overall I just hope everyone can be courteous, friendly and have fun out there. The journey really IS as important as the destination. Let me know if you disagree on any of travel etiquette guidelines or if I’ve missed some of your top tips!

Cover photo by Kelli McClintok. Plane photo by Oskar Kadaksoo. Carryon bag photo by White Field. via Unsplash.