10 Travel Etiquette Tips

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In honor of USA Today’s “Frequent fliers, attendants share stories of rude travelers,” I thought I’d share some of my own travel etiquette tips. Feel free to add yours in the comments section.

  1. Don’t hog seats in the boarding area.  Planes are full, airports are busy, space is tight on board and in the gate area.  Be kind and leave the seat next to you open so someone else can sit there.  Too often I see people placing their luggage or newspapers on empty seats, even as the boarding area fills up and other passengers are left standing.
  2. Board with your zone.  This one is plain and simple.  Airlines assign boarding order for a reason, and it helps if everyone can just follow the rules.  In many cases, people who board first paid for the privilege, so it’s only fair to honor it.
  3. Use the space under the seat in front of you.  Perhaps the greatest stress a frequent traveler faces is the risk of having to check a bag because the overhead bins are full.  Many times I’ve seen the bins packed with small purses, backpacks, and other items that could easily fit under the seat. You’ll have easier access to your items, your fellow passengers will appreciate having space for larger carry-ons, and we’ll all avoid flight delays caused by last minute checked bags.
  4. Check before you recline.  Anyone who has ever flown has encountered the frustration of the person in front of you reclining the seat into your space. Yes, you have a right to recline, but wouldn’t it be nice to look behind you before you do it?  Give that traveler behind you who is working on a computer a chance to close his laptop before your seat crushes it.
  5. Let people in front of you off the plane first.  The plane pulls up to the gate and every person on board wants to be the first off the plane.  Clearly that can’t happen, and we are a civilized society, so a simple rule will help keep people from being trampled upon arrival.  If you are standing in the aisle, make sure the people in the row in front of you have a chance to exit before you start walking forward.  Most people follow it, but every so often there’s a renegade who apparently didn’t receive the memo. Now you have.
  6. Middle seats get the armrests.  I don’t know anyone who likes to sit in a middle seat, do you?  Let’s give those unlucky travelers a break and at least let them use both armrests.  If you’re seated at the window or the aisle, I think you can survive with the one armrest that’s dedicated to you.
  7. Don’t slam the hotel room door.  Once the business traveler survives the stressful flight experience, she is almost home-free when she gets to the hotel.  But there’s one big thing that can ruin a hotel stay:  noise.  Few hotels are soundproofed enough to keep loud noises from penetrating the sanctum of your room, and the worst offender here is the slamming door.  When you enter and exit your room, why not close it gently?
  8. Keep the volume down.  Continuing with noise-in-the-hotel theme, loud TVs and phone conversations can also drive your neighbors crazy.  It’s easy to feel like you are safe and sound in your room and forget that sound travels.  Especially late at night, turn it down so others can make the best of their precious hours of sleep.
  9. Wait for the next elevator.  Perhaps one of the most controversial issues of our time – should people in the elevator push the “door open” button?  Or should new arrivals just forego the closing doors and wait?  My vote is for the latter. Just be patient, wait a few minutes for the next car to come.  Hopefully others will do the same for you as the doors are about to close and whisk you away.
  10. Walk on the left, stand on the right.  Every moving sidewalk I’ve ever seen in an airport has signs that say exactly that.  So why do so many people straddle the entire width with their luggage, and just stand there like a lump of coal?  Frequent travelers are busy and every minute counts, so why not step aside and let them get by you?  And for you busy travelers whizzing by on the left – watch your rolling suitcases so you don’t club people as you whisk by.