• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

The New Rules of Airplane Etiquette


Jun 18, 2024 #Airplane, #etiquette, #rules

Not reclining their seat. Not eating McDonald’s or silently passing gas. Not taking their shoes off or watching a movie without headphones. According to a new poll, the worst thing people can do on a plane is … let their children play in the aisle.

Ahead of an anticipated surge in travel for the summer, YouGov surveyed a wide swath of the American flying public, revealing some telling preferences when it comes to in-flight etiquette.

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According to the poll, at least 80% of Americans find it unacceptable for passengers to allow their children to play in the aisles, the activity that garnered the most disapproval of any of the 30 potentially contentious issues surveyed. Other behaviors that are widely disapproved of include getting drunk, leaving one’s seat during turbulence, ignoring emergency demonstrations and exiting the plane before the people in the row in front of them.

Dallas Passenger
An American Airlines flight attendant closes the lid on an overhead luggage compartment in a passenger jet preparing to depart from Dallas. U.S. airlines are expected to carry a record 271 million passengers this summer.

Getty Images

Using both armrests is widely disapproved, with 74% of respondents finding it unacceptable. Eating strong-smelling food on a plane is frowned upon by 68%, while removing shoes mid-flight is deemed inappropriate by just over half of those surveyed.

Opinions are more clearly divided on several other in-flight behaviors. There is a near even split on making phone calls, unbuckling seatbelts when the seatbelt light is on, and leaving the overhead light on when the cabin lights are off.

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The division becomes more pronounced when it comes to pets. While bringing dogs on board is somewhat accepted, with 37% of passengers approving, cats face a bit more resistance, with only 28% approval.

Activities that are more widely accepted include using a laptop on the tray table, waking up a seatmate to use the bathroom, and pressing the flight-attendant call button for refreshments.

Moreover, more than half of respondents find it acceptable to close the window during takeoff or landing. Additionally, 55% approve of reclining their seat, and 52% are okay with putting small items in the overhead compartment on a full flight. Perhaps most surprising in this era of near-full flights, a significant number think it’s acceptable to ask to switch seats with another passenger.

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Frequent flyers—those who fly at least once a year—are more likely to disapprove of certain behaviors compared to infrequent flyers. For instance, 56% of frequent flyers oppose making phone calls during a flight, while only 30% of infrequent flyers feel the same.

Similarly, 43% of frequent fliers disapprove of putting small items in the overhead compartment on a full flight, compared to 19% of infrequent flyers. However, frequent flyers are more likely to think it’s acceptable to ignore the safety demonstration, with 32% in agreement, compared to 16% of those who rarely fly.

The YouGov poll was conducted online among 1,152 U.S. adult citizens between May 23 and May 26, just ahead of the Memorial Day holiday that unofficially kicks off the summer travel season. Airlines for America, an industry trade group, expects U.S. airlines to carry a record 271 million passengers from June through August this year.