Travel Advice: Airplane Etiquette And Common Air Travel Complaints

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

Larry Meiller learns what etiquette rules can make air travel more enjoyable for everyone, as well as frequent air consumer complaints. Plus, advice for your upcoming trips, too!

Featured in this Show

  • A Travel Expert's Guide To In-Flight Etiquette

    In-flight airplane etiquette has been having a moment in the media recently: There have been a slew of stories on people thrown off of planes for unruly behavior, and debates over whether it’s ever acceptable to recline a seat have been sprouting up all over the Web and social media.

    Rick Seaney said he thinks that part of the reason that these etiquette issues seemed to boil over this summer was because airlines were selling out large percentages of their flights, meaning passengers were flying on increasingly crowded planes. As the CEO and co-founder of, Seaney keeps close tabs on the airline industry, and he said he doesn’t see much changing in terms of the frequency of airlines selling out flights.

    “I think it’s just the way it’s going to be for a while,” he said. “With the airlines really not adding any more planes, we’re going to continue to have packed flights. And when you put 1 and a half million people up in the air each day, you’re going to have a few of these blow-ups.”

    Given that reality, Seaney has a few tips for good manners that will make a flight more pleasant for everyone, passengers and crew alike:

    Don’t lose your temper. “It doesn’t pay to raise your voice,” said Seaney. “Because all it takes is for one flight attendant to say something to the pilot and automatically, they’re going to divert.”

    Don’t drink too much. Diverting a flight is a huge inconvenience for everyone involved, but that isn’t even the worst case scenario. Seaney said he’s seen attendants hogtie a passenger — usually something that happens when a passenger has imbibed a little too much on the flight.

    Be mindful about reclining. Leg room has definitely shrunk over the years, and couple with more people using laptops in-flight, space is at a premium. Seaney recommends simply looking back to see if the person in the row behind has a laptop open, or perhaps is eating. If that’s the case, he said, a polite warning often does the trick.

    In a recent article, Seaney also advised that it’s possible to avoid the situation all together by flying on Spirit or Allegiant airlines, since their seats don’t recline at all.

    Seaney also notes that while passengers have a responsibility to act civilly on a flight, so do the flight attendants and other staff members. Seaney said that beyond the so-called air passenger Bill of Rights, airlines need to communicate with passengers about why there is a delay and how long it may take. At the very least, they should be invested in minimizing bad publicity spreading over social media.

    Similarly, while it might not be a deterrent in the moment, some ill-mannered passengers are finding themselves being publicly shamed for their behavior — so neither crew nor passengers should assume that what happens in the air stays there.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Rick Seaney Guest

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