Show me someone who’s never taken their shoes off during a long flight and I’ll show you a liar. No matter how good at plane etiquette we think we are, everyone’s a little bit guilty of breaking the unspoken rules of flying. It’s human nature, baby.
We all know the rules that are in place to keep us safe in the air. Switching your phone to airplane mode and pretending to watch the safety demonstration every time are embedded in our brains now.
you gotta turn your phone off when you fly in case an old plane text you and your new plane get jealous
— famous crab 2020 (@famouscrab) August 19, 2012
Arguably even more important, though, are the unspoken rules of flying. You know, all the normal parts of plane etiquette that means everyone can enjoy the flight.
Hate to say it, but if you don’t at least make an attempt to follow the rules, you’re a terrible person and deserve to be put on the no-fly list. It doesn’t have to be this way, though! We’ve put together a handy guide to plane etiquette so you don’t have to be a shit person on planes.
Here are the 10 unspoken rules of flying:
#1 Don’t take your shoes off
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Nobody wants to see your bare feet, Karen, put them away. If you take your shoes off on a plane, you will absolutely end up on Passenger Shaming where you belong.
Admittedly, it’s okay to take your shoes off on a long-haul flight, but you’ve gotta use common sense. If your know your feet are a bit stanky, keep them covered. And dear god never, ever put your bare feet on the seat in front of you. Anything to do with feet are the most important rules of flying.
#2 Don’t recline your seat on a short flight
If your flight’s less than three hours, then boy do I have news for you! Reclining your seat is only acceptable on international flights after the meal has been served.
If you’re flying from Sydney to Melbourne, keep that bad boy at 90 degrees. Is it uncomfortable for you? Sure. Will reclining your $60 economy seat for an hour make it any more comfortable? Absolutely not.
#3 Middle seat gets the armrests
my first report out of Sundance: the woman next to me just said loudly “Siri, what is middle seat etiquette?” then showed me Google search results on “middle seat armrests” and said she’s legally the owner of both middle armrests and I am not allowed to put my arm down 😎
— rachel handler (@rachel_handler) January 24, 2020
Window seat gets the views, aisle seat is first served when the snacks come round, and middle seat gets both the armrests. This bit of plane etiquette isn’t up for debate, so take your greasy elbow off the middle armrest if you’re already munching on your free cookie.
The person in the middle seat has literally nothing else going for them on this flight, so having two armrests is the least they deserve.
A kitten cries, a dog goes without a treat and a special place in hell is set aside whenever someone in an end seat uses both armrests.
#4 Don’t get hammered
There is a group of women getting on my flight and one has a shirt that says “just divorced” and the others have shirts that say “divorce support group” and they are all plastered. Those are the type of friends everyone needs in their life lmao
— Ashley (@a_pfeiffer13) January 6, 2018
Free booze at all hours is one of the privileges of flying, but with great power comes great responsibility.
It’s up to you to cut yourself off before you become annoying to your seat neighbours — nobody wants to sit next to the guy who starts their holiday partying early.
#5 Always use your headphones
There’s only one thing worse than hearing someone else’s music on the bus, and that’s hearing someone else’s music on a 10-hour flight. There’s literally no excuse for you to not use headphones (they give them out on the plane!). I don’t care if you’re pumping Britney’s biggest hits, the rest of the plane doesn’t want to hear it.
#6 Never watch someone else’s movie over their shoulder
So this random old lady i was sitting next to on my flight was staring at my phone the whole time so i had to catch her in the act pic.twitter.com/wf3fYzoUxO
— Izzo (@motaz_askar) April 29, 2019
Just let the person next to you enjoy re-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine in peace. Just because you’re sitting so close doesn’t mean you’re hanging out.
It’s natural to sneak a look at the screen next to you for a really juicy bit, but it’s actually illegal to keep watching if the scene changes. If someone is watching your screen, the rules of flying state that you’re allowed to make eye contact to shame them into minding their own business.
#7 Don’t take over anyone else’s seat
There’s already so little personal space on planes, don’t make it any worse. Keep your feet under the seat in front of you, keep your arms on your pre-approved armrests, and beg for forgiveness if you fall asleep on someone’s shoulder.
#8 Don’t make small talk with the person next to you
#9 Don’t stand up as soon as the plane lands
Please remain seated until we’ve reached the gate, then feel free to stand hunched over weirdly sideways for 15 minutes while we do whatever
— ohWell (@contriteperson) December 23, 2014
Well done, you’re definitely going to be first off the plane and get home sooner.
In reality, you’re still going to be stuck on the plane for just as long as everyone else. If you absolutely can’t wait another five minutes to stretch your legs, then go off, sis. But we both know that you could wait another five minutes if you wanted to try not being an asshole.
#10 Step away from the baggage carousel
Did you know that if you take one step back from the baggage carousel, you’ll still get your bag just as quickly? What’s more, everyone else will get their bags sooner, the sun will keep on shining and the world would be a happier place.
(Lead image: It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia / FXX)
Alana is the staff writer on AWOL who thinks the best way to travel is by taking spontaneous detours and stopping at every local bakery to try the cakes. She writes a lot about Australian TV, Big Things, cursed food, and theme parks. You can follow her on Instagram @alana.dotcom. It’s mostly dogs she meets along the way.