Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

Airline travel etiquette

By jayfoo2 in Op-Ed
Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 10:36:53 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

I'm a very egalitarian guy. I believe that everyone should have the right to do his or her own thing. I believe that everyone is equal and deserves to be treated with respect. I believe in social justice, free speech, human rights, and loving one's neighbor.

Except when traveling.

I travel for business a lot.

Most weeks I reach one of the two airports in my city at around 6:00am each Monday morning. I take between 2 and 4 flights each week and try to make it home by 8:00 Friday nights. I have more frequent flyer miles than a seagull. I know the desk clerks and they know me. I can identify aircraft down to the subtype. I know the numbers of the exit rows on most of them.

I love my job, the travel is part of it, such is life. There is only one thing I truly wish for. I hope, I pray that one day the vast majority of people learn these simple rules of air travel etiquette.
  1. There's a reason why the airlines have baggage number and size restrictions. If you try to bring the entire contents of your apartment/houseboat/village/space station onto the plane they wont fit. You'll have to work your way all the way back up the aisle.
  2. I probably don't want to talk to you. I probably want to sleep, read, or work. It is perfectly acceptable to say hello when you sit down, you don't need to say anything else after that. If we are both in a talkative mood then perhaps a conversation can occur, but if I am putting on my headphones or reading, please do shut up.
  3. If you are too big for your seat you may not use part of mine. Next time buy two seats or fly first class.
  4. If you and a companion plan to talk with each other during the flight please book seats next to each other. Do not pick an aisle and a window and then proceed to talk across the person in the middle seat. The applies doubly if you will be doing so in Portuguese (unless you are flying to or from Portugal or Brazil).
  5. If you wanted your baby to have a seat you should have bought one for him or her. I will not hold your baby. If you need to change your baby please do not do it right in front of me, go to the lav. This applies doubly while I am trying to eat.
  6. If you will be needing to get up during the flight (i.e. for the bathroom) the aisle seat is for you. If you want a window that's great but please re-think the buy 2 get one free coffee deal before you get on the flight.
  7. A plane is not a bar. A few drinks are fine. Getting so drunk they need to land the plane in Utah and arrest you is excessive.
  8. Aren't you glad I used deoderant, don't you wish everyone did?
  9. Little children who kick the back of seats should be put in the cargo hold. Their parents should be put out on the wing.
  10. Please don't call the flight attendant 'toots,' 'sweetie,' 'babe,' or something similar.
I hope this isn't too bitter. I hope this is funny. I hope they ban recreational travelers from the first 15 rows.

Seriously though, many of my generally nice friends who travel for business have experienced the same 'travel snob' phenomenon. I'm sure there are quite a few frequent flyers on K5, what are your proposed rules?

Note: I was inspired to write this by This story


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


you should be allow to talk on a plane if:
o You are the pilot or copilot 6%
o You are a flight attendant 8%
o You are very cute 62%
o You are under 4 years old 4%
o You are Inoshiro 17%

Votes: 45
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o This story
o Also by jayfoo2

Display: Sort:
Airline travel etiquette | 35 comments (28 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
And one more (3.00 / 2) (#1)
by MSBob on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 05:31:18 PM EST

11. Electronic gizmos are banned during takeoff and landing for a reason. If you're too excited to compose yourself and obey flight attendants' orders you need to seek immediate medical help. Nobody is keen on crashing because you can't stop the urge to play with your new phone.
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

Somebody explain this... (none / 0) (#7)
by fremen on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 06:43:01 PM EST

Will somebody PLEASE explain this to me. I've asked and asked, and I've heard hundreds of different answers to this question. Why are electronic devices forbidden on take off and landing? I've heard that it's related to oscillators used in most electronic devices, the electronic properties of being in a giant metal tube, and even that it was all because of a freak accident with a new and poorly understood navigational system in the 1980s that was conveniently blamed on a laptop in coach.

This question does not apply to cell phones, pagers, etc. I know why these are forbidden (too many receiving towers and using the device outside of spec conditions). But why is my Palm Pilot or laptop considered evil?

[ Parent ]

FAA and FCC (4.66 / 3) (#9)
by Zeio on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 06:59:32 PM EST

The FAA could give a shit about Cell Phones. There is no danger. There is an "AIR PHONE" on the plane isn't there. It uses the same concept of operation as a cell phone.

Its because the FCC is pissed about cells getting overloaded by the same phone in an airplane - a cellphone can end up using like 10 cell sites/towers even though its really only making a call through one cell.

As far as RF/EMF from a laptop, Cell phone, game boy, PDA, please. Its possible, that inside the plane, a faraday cage, that RF can interfere with the compass - wich is apparently the most prone to RF (which isn't saying it is prone, just moreso than other things.). Very remotly possible. I mean, the have a loudspeaker system, pipes, air conditioning, motors, all generating RF. I don't see how a PDF or a Laptop gets sod eadly, but what the hell.

The rule only applies to passengers for hire, by the way, the FAA couldn't care less if you were taking off in a Mig-29 you bough with a laptop turned on, or a C-130, or a 747-400. If you own it, and you don't have passengers for hire, laptop away. You think The president has to shut off his laptop on AirForce one? Frick, half of SAC or whatever they call it now "brain" is in AF-1. So much for RF.

[ Parent ]
One more thing though (none / 0) (#10)
by Zeio on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 07:06:05 PM EST

Anything that transmits should not be used during takeoff and landing; the laptop/pda/game boy/anything that isn't actively connected to something and transmitting is a goofy rule.
[ Parent ]
Re: One more thing though (4.50 / 4) (#13)
by ShawnD on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 08:11:51 PM EST

Anything that transmits should not be used during takeoff and landing; the laptop/pda/game boy/anything that isn't actively connected to something and transmitting is a goofy rule.
Landings and takeoffs are the most dangerous part of the flight. It is not just the chance of interference. If something goes wrong they don't want a 15lb. laptop flying through the air, or someone not hearing directions because they are wearing headphones.

This make perfect sense to me, although it would be better if they could get the plane in the air in less than 1h after the passengers get on.

[ Parent ]

Re: FAA and FCC (cell phones) (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by Teehmar on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 03:17:31 PM EST

Its because the FCC is pissed about cells getting overloaded by the same phone in an airplane - a cellphone can end up using like 10 cell sites/towers even though its really only making a call through one cell.

10? I just did a rough calculation:
Given a plane at 30kft, it's radio line of sight is 245 statute miles.
That gives an area of 188478 sq miles.
Assuming a cell phone tower covers roughly 100 sq miles (In a city, it's probably less than 10 sq mi/tower). That's roughly 1884 towers.
Given an analog cell phone, and an optimal frequency reuse pattern, that's 269 towers trying listen to the channel your phone is transmitting on.
Now do you see what the problem is?

As far as the no electronic devices during takeoff and landings, this is because those are the most critical times during the flight. There's enough things that can go wrong then, why add even a small possibility of RF interference to the list.
Take your laptop, or PDA, and put it next to an FM radio, and see if you hear anything.
One of the frequency bands used for navigation starts at 108Mhz, right above the FM radio band.

[ Parent ]
Putting on my Pilots hat for a second.... (5.00 / 2) (#18)
by arheal on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 03:13:18 AM EST

Well, there have now been several instances now where the RFI (radio frequenzy interference) from hand held electronics containing microprocessors has interfered with the operation of radio-based navigation equipment. The BIG worry (which HAS happened a couple of times) is inteference with the ILS (instrument lading system) during landing, particularly during IMC (instrument meteorlogical conditions i.e. in clouds) when there is little opportunity for the pilot to cross check with visual references. The ILS system relies on comparing the strength of two pairs of radio signals (one pair controlling direction, the other glide angle). If there is a local broad-band radio transmission such as comes from the high speed switching in a microprocessor circuitry, the ratios of these signals can be skewed, causing the plane to come in at the wrong direction or height. This is potentially mucho dangerous.
There can be only one!
[ Parent ]
EMI (2.40 / 5) (#2)
by Signal 11 on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 05:34:00 PM EST

Look, if some kid using a gameboy or some business exec using a cell phone can wreak havoc with a plane's electrical system... just imagine what would happen if someone built a device to intentionally cause EMI might do...

With all this worry about terrorists dropping planes out of the sky, why the hell are we using unshielded electronics for planes?

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

Oy Vey (4.00 / 1) (#4)
by jayfoo2 on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 05:45:22 PM EST

Yah that's not a good sign.

I'm going to tack a bit of an ask K5 on here; Why is there this rule now? A few years ago (like 5 maybe) there was no problem with having your CD player on during takeoff. I can understand transmitters, but passive radio recievers? Have there really been incidents?

Any pilots, EE's, smart guys/gals know the answers?

[ Parent ]
Less Trouble (4.33 / 3) (#6)
by michaela on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 06:21:04 PM EST

Then the flight crew don't have to argue with the guy who wants to know why his device is bad when the lady across the aisle can use hers. They're all banned.
That is all
[ Parent ]
Little bitty travails (4.00 / 2) (#12)
by electroniceric on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 07:51:47 PM EST

I'm never really that inspired by stories of people's perceived hardships when flying.

Life is frequently inconvenient, and it's beautiful that way.

Flying (3.00 / 2) (#15)
by sventhatcher on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 08:29:00 PM EST

Generally speaking when I'm forced into the position of having to fly, which is only slightly more tolerable than driving for an obcene amounts of hours, I generally just bury myself in my headphones turing the volume to max in hopes that I might barely people able to hear the music over the massive general noise that one encounters on planes in addition to the ear blockage that comes with the pressure chage-over.

I've never sat by anyone that looked like they were the type of person I'd engage in a conversation with. Mostly much-much older folk, or noone at all on less busy flights. No one has ever tried to engage me in a conversation, but that maybe be largely because I get a bit grumpy when I'm lodged into a seat that is not particularly comfortable and has horribly insufficient leg room for someone of my height (6'4+1/2") and that grumpiness shows.

I might elect to strike up a conversation if someone cute and female was place beside me, but as of yet I've had no such luck that could also be connected to the "grumpy" look, since on most flights I've been on there hasn't really been specific seating, but rather "we've got a low load, sit wherever".

Actually, come to think of it. There haven't been that many people that were cute, female, and close to my age (20) on any flights I've been on. Never more than 2-3.

--Sven (Now with bonus vanity weblog! (MLP Sold Seperately))

Um, me too! (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by coffee17 on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 04:03:32 PM EST

I also haven't sat next to anyone who looked remotely like someone I'd want to talk to, but with piercings and long dyed hair, as well as looking dismayed at being similarly cramped in airline seating (just ~2 inches shorter than you). Sadly however I tend not to bring earphones, just a book. Sadly people do not seem to catch on right away that I'm not in the mood for a "single-serving friend" I'll say Hi, as this poster agrees, this is in my social contract. More conversation is not. If they break their end of the contract I consider it ok for me to break the part of the contract being decent politeness. I'll either ignore them depending on the book, I might truly be so engrossed as to not hear them. If they insist on being so aggressive for conversation as to actually nudge me/tap shoulder or what not I have no inhibitions to snapping "I heard you when you asked why I was travelling before. I ignored you because I don't want to talk. I still don't want to talk. Do not touch me again." I make sure to tighten the muscles in my neck, which will make my face bright red before the end of the first sentence and might make some veins in my forehead stand out even if I'm speaking at a near whisper. I have yet to find someone who insisted on bothering me after that.

[ Parent ]
Hmm... (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by Hizonner on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 11:47:24 PM EST

... even when I was your age, I wasn't stupid enough to think I'd never want to converse with somebody older than I was...

[ Parent ]
Hrm (none / 0) (#31)
by sventhatcher on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 04:19:56 AM EST

I never said that I'd never want to talk to someone older than me, but generally it's harder to strike up a conversation with someone who's outside your general generation.

You'ld be surprised what kind of assumptions people of the past generation will make about mine. A friend of mine had been told straight out that he can't possibly understand certain music, because of his age. He's explained that amongst his favorite bands are things like CCR and Led Zeplin only to be told he was too young to like said music.

It's absurd.

Ageism is something practiced more by the older than the younger.

--Sven (Now with bonus vanity weblog! (MLP Sold Seperately))
[ Parent ]

lucky, lucky ladies (2.50 / 2) (#32)
by streetlawyer on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 05:16:41 AM EST

I might elect to strike up a conversation if someone cute and female was place beside me

WHoaaa! Smokin'! I'm sure the young fillies will be just overjoyed that you're making an exception for them (tip hat, wink)

Sexist prick. Don't think that the "cute, female" next to you has heard it less than a hundred times before, or that you will not be seen straight through.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Heaven Forbid (none / 0) (#34)
by sventhatcher on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 02:45:41 PM EST

Heaven forbid that as a heterosexual male I could actually find someone attractive and talk to them because of that.

The government should pass a law to stop me before I cause anymore damage!

--Sven (Now with bonus vanity weblog! (MLP Sold Seperately))
[ Parent ]

That comment about the children... (4.00 / 3) (#16)
by yankeehack on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 09:16:14 PM EST

Reminded me of something that happened a couple of christmases ago. We were flying back home from the west coast with a sick 8 month old baby. (She happened to get a horrible cold turned ear ache flight out, but that's another story.) I was in the ladies room in at Hartsfield Airport waiting for the connection back home. It was about 10pm at night and the terminal was nearly empty. Another woman came into the bathroom with a child about the same age as my own. The kid looked terrible (sick too) and Mom was doing some cleaning up. I asked her what was wrong and she told me the kid threw up. I said I'm sorry to hear that. And, the Mother replied straighfaced, "Oh, don't feel sorry for me, feel sorry for the guy next to me she threw up on."

So, hey, it could be worse. :-P

Perhaps what we really need is a new feminism...It will focus on something that liberal feminism has failed to do--instill a sense of dignity, honor and s

as a frequent flyer myself, some additions (none / 0) (#20)
by Quietti on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 06:27:18 AM EST

3a) Being a senior suit flying the exact same route for 20 years, always getting the exact same seat and knowing the staff on a first name basis does not grant you any special priviledge. Therefore, do not assume that every empty seat is your flying desktop and fill it with documents and newspapers, then act annoyed if others do the same and steal your favorite spot, of if they get their Martini before you do. If you need that much space and cannot tolerate others, buy yourself a private jet.

11) If you're a mother who refuses to breast feed in public, but cannot be bothered with bringing milk bottles to feed your toddler either, stay home! If I wanted to hear your screaming brat for 8 hours straight, instead of getting some sleep, I would invite myself to your house and volunteer as a babysitter.

The whole point of civilization is to reduce how much the average person has to think. - Stef Murky
About point 7 (none / 0) (#21)
by wiredog on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 09:49:24 AM EST

That guy wasn't arrested when the plane landed in Utha, he was carried off in a body bag. Apparently, when he tried to crash the plane, several passengers sat on him and he suffocated.

I can't recall if he was trying to open a door, or break into the cockpit, just that he went nuts and wanted to crash the plane.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle

actually this is a true story of mine (none / 0) (#22)
by jayfoo2 on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 12:39:51 PM EST

As you can imagine a few of these points were inspired by actual events. In this case I was on a flight from Chicago to SFO when a guy got so loaded and abusive to the flight attendants they landed in Salt Lake and busted him.

This isn't an altogether infrequent occurance unfortunatly.

[ Parent ]
OK (none / 0) (#23)
by wiredog on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 01:57:24 PM EST

I'm thinking of a different flight, then. Happened about a year ago. I saw it on the Ch 4 news out of SLC, and read about it in the Trib the next day.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
And there are many others. (none / 0) (#26)
by Apuleius on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 04:18:54 PM EST

There's an airport in Maine that specializes in handling aborted trans-Atlantic flights (the local cops have a ready drill for the situation). (see the archives of the Atlantic Monthly)

There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
That must be Bangor (none / 0) (#33)
by CaptainZapp on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 06:16:59 AM EST

Which, incidentally, is also the absolutely worst airport in the US to clear customs and imigrations.

Could it be, that those "well drilled" blokes are INS agents, when they are not busy extracting alcohol-poisoned tourists from planes?

[ Parent ]

Kids on planes (none / 0) (#27)
by rpg25 on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 05:57:33 PM EST

I see both sides of this, since I have small children and I travel for business.

My top-level advice to biz travellers who get uptight about kids (see point #9) is that small children are about as manageable as programmers. Get it?


Of course, if you don't hear, "Timmy, please don't kick the seat," about a zillion times, you're right to be annoyed.

Just don't be surprised if it doesn't work.

Re point number 5: I always get my kids a seat. But anyone who suggests changing a child --- especially a child as big as a two year old --- in an airplane lavatory --- especially on a 757 --- obviously has never tried it. The only really effective place to change a child that big is in the aisle. If you don't like it, look on the bright side. It's better than not changing the diaper.

One more (none / 0) (#28)
by Phred the Magnificent on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 06:24:12 PM EST

11. I realize that the "fully upright" seat back position is the least comfortable, but if it doesn't recline easily, PLEASE look and see why not, before you try to force it. Airline seats are intentionally designed too close together, even in first class, and of course they're worse in the rest of the plane. Thus, when you get tall people (like me, about 2 meters) whose employers won't pay for first class, the knee situation becomes REALLY painful. Forcing the seat back only makes matters worse. (For my part, if it's close - say, Salt Lake to San Diego, a mere 750 miles - I'd rather drive my truck and ask reimbursement for the mileage. Unfortunately, that isn't always an option.)

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
Air travel just sucks (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by bediger on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 12:43:46 AM EST

Your 10 rules cover darn near everyone at some time or another. What does this mean? It means that air travel is incredibly horrible, that's all. Airports are full of empolyees of various airlines and transportation districts, but not a single one will make eye contact. Airport food (there is no longer any airplane food) could turn a maggot's stomach. Airports themselves are laid out by insane people, and built by insane contractors. Someone has wiped a thin layer of "Crisco" on every originally shiny or transparent surface of the airport. The KGB runs the "metal" "detectors". Flight attendants have a bad attitude, and pilots, although saddled with enormous responsibility, are not Christ himself.

Unfortunately, in the USA we have no other realistic mass transit. Drive or fly. What's your poison?

-- I am Spartacus.
What about taking the train? (none / 0) (#35)
by CokeBear on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:33:14 PM EST

Amtrak has pretty decent service between major cities in the US, and VIA Rail is pretty good in Canada (especially VIA1, their first class service... never had service as good as that on an airplane)

[ Parent ]
Airline travel etiquette | 35 comments (28 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!