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6 Tips for Boarding Etiquette

With skinny aisles, cramped seats, and lack of storage space, boarding a plane can be like a gymnastics performance. The likelihood of travelers being tired, hungry, frustrated—or all three—is high. And so well before the flight takes off, manners can easily fly out the window. Make the process as easy as possible with these tips from a frequent traveler.


1. Don’t be a gate lingerer. Everyone knows the order of how a plane is boarded. It starts with those who need extra assistance due to physical challenges, then moves to parents traveling with kids, then first and business class, then economy starting at the back of the plane. Blocking traffic next to the gate before your row is called annoys passengers and gate agents, and it doesn’t get you on the plane any quicker.

2. Save your personal saga. If you’d like to get your seat changed—or anything else that’s not of the upmost urgency—the time to ask the flight attendant is not immediately when you board. With a line of people behind you, it only slows everyone up and usually the flight attendant can’t do anything about your request then anyway.

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3. Don’t be an aisle hog. When you get to your seat, place your personal items on it and try to pull your carry-on bag in behind you, waiting until there’s a break in traffic to hoist it up. If you need help, ask for it. It’s better to safely stow than accidentally whack someone.

4. Quickly stow, then sit. The time to take things out of your suitcase that you’ll need in-flight is while still in the terminal—not while standing in the aisle.

5. Be flexible about overhead space. Don’t spend time trying to find a prime spot for your carry-on, and leave others’ belongings alone as best you can. If there’s no room around for your luggage, now is the time to flag down a flight attendant—they’re usually keyed-in to people needing help with storage and can direct you to a vacant overhead bin or storage space.

6. Save the bathroom trip. Don’t try to get down the aisle to go use the restroom while people are getting settled. If you must, wait until everyone is seated and ask if it’s OK. Otherwise you could delay take-off.

Photo credit: courtesy psyberartist / flickr

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