Mind Your Manners: The Unfriendly Skies

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The “friendly skies” have taken on new levels of rudeness lately. I recently saw a photo of bare feet sticking through the arm rests to the plane seat in front of them. Is it just me, or does it seem that airline passengers check their bags—and their manners—at the counter?

On a recent trip I took to Toronto, many people boarded before their assigned group numbers were called and others clus- tered around the boarding gate, blocking other people’s access.

As soon as we took off, the man in front of me reclined his seat all the way.

What is the proper etiquette in these situations?

It’s best to remember that manners are about honesty and consideration: Be honest with people, and considerate of their feelings.

FEET: First of all, don’t ever take your shoes off during flight, unless you’re putting on socks. (I occasionally do this because I travel in sandals and don’t like my feet to be cold.) But do not walk around in socks. And don’t have stinky shoes.

TALKERS: Converse with your neighbor and then, if you don’t want to talk, let him or her know politely that you have work to do.

RECLINERS: I didn’t say anything to the man in the seat in front of me, but it definitely reminded me that it’s best to refrain from over-reclining my seat as a courtesy to the person behind me.

After we landed, I witnessed more rudeness at baggage claim. People crowded the conveyor belt, pushing and shoving others to examine the suitcases rolling past.

BAGGAGE CLAIM: Step back from the belt. (I think there should be an imaginary four-foot courtesy line.) Only when you see your bag can you be close to the conveyor belt.

I hope we can work together to make the friendly skies friendly again. It just takes a little kindness, consideration and overall good manners. Treat others the way you want to be treated—especially in a crowded airplane. 

Suzanne Willis is the founder of Willis Consulting & Communications in Naples, which specializes in contemporary business, social and children’s etiquette. 

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