jet etiquette monarch_resized
Jet etiquette – it’s just about being nice to each other.

It’s just you, the cabin crew and a couple of hundred other passengers. There’ll be laid-back frequent fliers, frenetically excited first-timers and every shade of traveller in between. And for the next few hours, you’ll all be journeying side by side. What could possibly go wrong?

Nothing, ideally! Whether you’re jetting of on cheap holidays or taking a business trip, take our tips to help take those little irritations out of the flying experience.

Tell us in the comments below if you agree or disagree with my list or have any you’d like to add!

Love thy neighbour?

Do behave like you’re in a small town. By that, I mean: be nice! The big-city way of treating everyone like a troublesome stranger doesn’t cut it in the enclosed space of a plane. Just think: the person next to you could be anyone. They could, in fact, be the love of your life, or your next boss. It happens!

jet etiquette neighbour_resized
A chat can be nice… but no monologues please!

Don’t offer your life story if no one asks. I’ve had some great conversations on planes, but only when the desire to chat’s been mutual. No monologues please!

Do keep the kids entertained. Bringing a brand new toy (or several little wrapped up surprises) along might help keep them engaged and pass the time. If they get distressed and are hard to settle, try settling fractious tots with a walk down the aisle to give your nearest neighbours some respite.

Don’t forget that we were all little once and flying is stressful for families at best. Someone probably had to put up with you as a crying baby, too!

Take it easy

take it easy - jet etiquette
Funny photo, yes… but we are not actually suggesting you lie down in the aisle!

Everyone’s in the same boat (OK, plane) so practice a little positive tit for tat – and the rewards of instant karma will be yours.

Do relax – in your own space. We all like our personal space, so little courtesies can smooth out an otherwise bumpy ride. Check over your shoulder before you recline to see how far you can adjust before squeezing the person behind. You’ll probably be less likely to have their knees digging into your back I think it’s nice to give the person behind you a chance to hold their drink or expensive gadget in case they’re at risk.

Be gently direct but not upset. Is your neighbour’s music too loud? With a smile, you could say, “Excuse me, I think your headphones are leaking a little.” I’ve tried this, and it works – blessed relief! After all, how can the person wearing headphones tell what the noise leak sounds like for you? If you’re grumpy though, your neighbour may feel like dialling it up to 11.


jet etiquette bag
Please make sure you pack your bag light enough that you can lift it into the overhead lockers yourself.

Years of flying have taught me the art of human origami. No one has a lot of space to work with on a plane (unless you’re Donald Trump with a massive private jet) so simple actions become complicated. Naturally, then, even the most graceful of us becomes accident-prone. So how do you keep on-board mishaps to a minimum?

Keep calm and carry on. Walk down the aisle with your carry-on bag in front of you, perhaps turned to the side, and you’ll be less likely to deliver bumps and bruises by accident.

Don’t forget to be gracious. I’ve spilled drinks on neighbours (sorry again to the lady in the gorgeous silk dress), inadvertently waved my behind in people’s faces while bending over and trod on countless sock-clad feet. Those on the receiving end have almost always been kind, even as I apologised profusely. After all, they’ve probably all had their own etiquette fails too!

What are your best tips to keep calm and carry on? Anything you agree with or disagree with on this list?


  1. why do airlines not prohibit passengers from reclining their seats on daytime short haul flights. there is little enough room and it makes me feel that a passenger is taking some of my space when they recline

  2. I believe it is time that seats are locked in the upright position because the concept of reclining seats is a throw back to the past when seat spacing allowed it without restricting passengers space behind. Seat spacing today is just not sufficient to support this so called luxury feature.

    I have been on Monarch flights where the person in front has reclined and I was unable to even read a newspaper. These people also frequently have to be told by cabin staff to move the seat upright for landing giving yet another task to the busy cabin crew.

    Having bought a ticket, passengers have effectively “bought” space on the plane for the duration of the trip. Why should they then have that limited space reduced by a complete stranger? Flying today is stressful enough already without having to risk arguments with other passengers about something they believe is their right.

Leave a Reply