When it comes to holiday travel, flying the friendly skies might not be as friendly as it once was. In 2017, the International Air Transport Association reported there was a 50 percent rise in air rage incidents—with 169 passengers forcibly confined for bad behavior, ranging from verbal abuse to life-threatening situations such as attempting to storm the cockpit. Of course, traveling in any season can be stressful, but with so many year-end deadlines, family visits and weather delays, holiday travel can be particularly harrowing. To help make your upcoming travels as stress free as possible for yourself and your fellow travelers, consider these travel etiquette tips that will keep everyone in the spirit of the season.
Preparation: Holiday travel, like any other time of the year, can go a lot more smoothly and efficiently with knowing how to properly prepare for travel. A seasoned traveler knows to have their boarding pass out and available; to ditch prohibited items like water bottles before getting in line; and to avoid carrying wrapped gifts that will get flagged by the TSA—all things that can help security lines go as quickly as possible. Also, a considerate and prepared traveler knows the carry-on luggage limit. We’ve all experienced those awkward and time-consuming moments when poorly prepared travelers try to shove an overly large carry-on bag into an overhead bin—often whacking their fellow travelers in the process.
Sight and smell control: Anyone who has seen the classic movie “Planes Trains and Automobiles” surely remembers the airplane scene where a boisterous John Candy plops on a seat and quickly removes his shoes and socks—much to the dismay of his beleaguered seat mate played by Steve Martin. Yes, visible, smelly feet could surely spark air rage in even the gentlest of souls. But the point is that when traveling in small contained places like planes, trains and even automobiles, unnecessary sights (like John Candy’s feet!) along with offensive smells and sounds should be avoided. For another sensory example, try not to douse yourself with too much cologne or perfume that can be harmful to people with allergies and respiratory problems. If you bring food onto a plane, train or even a car, try to avoid smelly foods like onions or certain cheeses that may offend those around you.
Volume Control: Speaking of offending other senses, polite passengers should learn to practice volume control when traveling. When it comes to watching a film or listening to music, keep the volume down on your Ipod, earbuds and other devices so you don’t inflict loud sounds on someone who doesn’t have the same taste in music or movies. Passengers should also strive to keep their own volume down when they chat on a cell phone during boarding or as soon as the plane lands.
Mindfulness: Even though it’s nice to get to know a stranger, you should also be mindful of those passengers who like to travel in silence. You don’t want to be the blowhard who tells a stranger every detail of your life, so take a social cue and see if your fellow passenger might like to engage in a bit of conversation, remembering to not take offense if the other person opens a book or puts on headphones instead. Try to show compassion to your fellow travelers as the holidays can be particularly stressful for many. Think of those traveling with young children and all the stressors that come with it, along with flight attendants that are working during the holidays. A warm smile and a bit of patience can be very valuable gifts to these folks.
Giving Space: Another great thing someone can give their fellow holiday traveler is the gift of space. Whether it’s letting people in front of you off the plane or train first or giving someone room to store and retrieve their overhead bag, people need their space and will be very grateful for the room. Another thing to consider in sharing spaces is armrest etiquette in planes. In general, a person in the middle seat deserves both armrests while those on both ends should be content with only using one. One last piece of advice on shared spaces, always check with the person behind you before you recline your seat. That way you can make sure you don’t accidentally collide with someone who may be reaching down to retrieve something from under their seat or disrupt their meal if they have their food tray down.
Holiday Cheer: Finally, even though it is a festive season, a good passenger should always drink in moderation and refrain from overindulging in alcohol. A boisterous traveler fueled by one too many cocktails can quickly become the person most likely to receive black coal in their stockings from their fellow passengers.