Frequent Flyers’ Flying Etiquette For Non-Frequent Flyers

by SharonKurheg

When it comes to the flying public, there tend to be two groups – the “haves” and the have-nots.” I don’t even mean those who do or don’t have status, miles or club membership. I just mean knowledge.

When you fly regularly (or do ANYTHING on a regular basis), you learn the ins and outs of how to do things faster, easier, better, etc. When you’re a newbie, or at least someone who doesn’t do “that thing” very often, you may not realize that what you do (or don’t) may be greatly slowing you down. Or worse, are interfering with everyone else.

Some frequent flyers on the now-defunct Facebook travel group we used to run were asked what etiquette and other flying tips they would share with those who don’t fly as often and just “don’t know.” Their answers (edited only for clarity, brevity and adult language) were pretty revealing:

Before you get to the airport

  • Know how early you should get to the airport, based on your circumstances. -SIKH (Note: this post can help you plan when to arrive)
  • If you plan on parking at the airport, heads up that there may not be any space in Long Term Parking. You may want to consider off-site parking. -SIKH
  • If you go for off-site parking, make a reservation! (Here’s why) And if you have a Fast Park & Relax near your airport and are new to this system, sign up here and you’ll get 1 FREE DAY of parking (Note: So will we) -JoeHeg
  • Important documents, medication, etc., should ALWAYS be in a personal bag. Not checked luggage and not your carry-on. -Alissaaaaa

At check in

  • Weigh your checked luggage at home to make sure it’s under your airline’s maximum weight. If you don’t have a handheld scale, stand on your scale, see how much you weigh, then go on it while holding your bag. -markxspot (Note: Heads up for the airline that just changed its maximum weight limit!)
  • Have your tickets and ID all ready. Don’t start searching for any of that when you get to the drop off spot. -captnemo

At the security checkpoint

  • Everything on this page. Read it. Memorize it. Know it. Love it. Share it. -Littlebit
  • After going through security with your shoes and belt off, don’t stand in the middle of where everyone goes through. Get yourself back together in one of the designated areas/benches, or else you’re just a road block. -Anonymous

At the gate

  • Make sure your carry on and personal bags aren’t larger than your airline’s limit -LilS (Note: Here are the airlines’ current limits. Heads up that United’s personal-sized bag limit is ridiculous and can Delta’s be any more vague?)
  • Have your boarding pass in hand before you approach the gate -cpl6
  • When they start the boarding process, you don’t have to stand up and queue. It usually takes a long time and you have a seat assigned to you anyway, so relax a bit more before your flight. -annievaxxer (a nice was to say “Don’t be Gate Lice” without using the term “Gate Lice”)
    a group of people standing in a line

On the plane

  • Be aware of boundaries and personal space. Don’t manspread. -Anonymous (Note: Here’s how to stop a manspreader in 3 easy steps)
  • Window gets an armrest and a wall, middle gets two armrests, aisle gets and armrest and a little bit of extra leg. – BlargTheGreat
  • If you’re obese, check your airline’s policy before booking. -CPF (Note: This page should help a lot)
  • If your kid kicks my seat one more time I’m going to turn around and tell him Santa’s not real. – playground94 (Note: Point taken, but I think Playground94 may have anger issues)
  • Don’t wear a ton of perfume. Some people are allergic to it. Soap, water, deodorant, and antiperspirant will be fine. -John
  • If you are sitting in the aisle seat, don’t go to sleep and trap your seatmates. People need to pee. -Lordica
  • The overhead bins are shared spaces — if you have a backpack, it’s best under the seat in front of you to save room in the overhead. -Kazimierz3000
  • ONLY people in the bulkhead should put both of their bags in the overhead bins. -sln84
  • Treat your flight attendants with respect. Most of all flying is inherently miserable, so don’t be a d**k. -Kazimierz3000
  • Keep your hair, feet, hands to yourself. -GrimmandLily
  • This one is pretty general, but from experience I guess it still needs saying: If a person has headphones on, earbuds in, whatever, don’t try to make small talk. It’s nothing personal, but some people have really long days at airports (Can’t tell you how many red-eyes I’ve caught after waiting standby all day) and just don’t want to talk. -Maj_Prismatic
  • KEEP. YOUR.SHOES. ON. -Anonymous
  • When a flight attendant asks you what you’d like to drink, don’t ask, “what do you have?” It wastes their time. There is a menu in the seat pocket magazine; familiarize yourself with it before the flight attendant gets to you. -Wendy.

After you’ve landed

  • No children at the baggage carousel. Space is tight and bags are flying. My bag WILL smack your kid in the skull. – I-be-pop-now

All are really good tips but that’s definitely not all of them. What would you recommend?

Feature Photo (cropped): pxhere

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


StAugustine March 18, 2024 - 1:11 pm

I fly Southwest often and here is my tip: it is not necessary to line up in your spot along the silver poles the minute you arrive at the gate and stand there for half an hour. It’s OK to have a seat and get in line when your boarding group is called. Standing in line will not get you on the plane any faster.

BTW on a Southwest flight last Friday the flight attendant making the announcements said “we’ll be coming around to take your drink orders soon, and I want everybody to know that we don’t have any ‘what have you got’ on today’s flight.”

David March 18, 2024 - 2:37 pm

Aisle gets two armrests, too.


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