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Keep air travel calm, pleasant

You’ve Got Manners

Posted: October 30, 2008 8:21 p.m.
Updated: January 1, 2009 5:00 a.m.
If you spend much time in airports, you know how fun it is to watch all of the people milling around before and after their flights. It’s a real view of how unique human beings are, and how each person has their individual way of living — and traveling.

Traveling by airplane is an adventure, at every level. We can pretty much expect some occasional stressing, problems and unwanted circumstances. One calming effect in life — and in airports and airplanes — is when people treat each other kindly, with good first class  manners.

Here are a few tips that could help make your travel time pleasant and calm:
n You may have to carry your own bags, so avoid coming with overflowing totes, overstuffed sacks, opened duffels — and arms encumbered to the max. If you need assistance, call the skycap and tip them $1 to $2 per bag.
n Have ID luggage tags on all of your bags. Remember to also put some ID inside the bag too; too often the outer tag gets ripped away.
n When you go through security, avoid holding up the line by knowing ahead of time where all of your metal objects are. You also know you are going to need to remove your shoes — so be extra ready for that.
n Be cautious and firm in not agreeing to watch any stranger’s luggage at the airport. You never know if something illegal could be inside.
n Remove your outer garments before boarding so you will not block the aisle while taking them off, once you’ve found your seat.
n Be ready when your row or section is called to board and be respectful of other people’s ‘space’ in line.
n Blocking the aisle as you put your carry-on luggage up above is very frustrating. Try to be very quick, or do so from the space in front of the aisle chair.
n If you know you want to sleep en route — request the window seat so that people will not have to crawl over you to get out of their seat. You’ll have a more undisturbed sleep, too.
n Wait until all emergency notices have been delivered before you put your earplugs in; not only is this a courtesy — but for your own safety.
n What if the person next to you wants to chat? If you do not want to talk, you can say something like ” I am sorry, I can’t visit right now — I am on deadline with my work or “this is the only chance I have to sleep.”
n If you’re the one who wants to talk — you can use a polite opening: “Are you en route to your destination, or returning?”
n If you have very long legs or like getting up and walking often, reserve an aisle seat. Do keep your elbows and feet within your space, not creeping out onto the aisle. That will cause some congestion, and you’ll also feel some bruising!
n While working on your computer, be aware of keeping papers and arms within your own chair space, and mention a kind word to your neighbor about wishing to not be a disturbance to them.
n Do a little housekeeping in the restroom after you’ve used it. How nice if everyone followed that tip. Wipe the sink with the towel you’ve just dried your hands on, and pick up any paper you’ve dropped on the floor.
n Before reclining your seat, check on what the person behind you is doing. Will it make it difficult for them?
n Upon arrival and leaving your seat, allow the people in front of you who are ready, to come out into the aisle before you.
n If you carry a backpack — know that it can be a lethal weapon. Be very aware of how close people are around you, and be considerate about not bumping them with it. If a bump does occur be sure to acknowledge it with an apology.
n When you need to make a connecting flight, help keep the adrenalin down by mentioning this to the flight attendant early, so that they might be able to assist you with a quick exit.
n The dreaded deed of all is lost luggage. It is usually retrieved, and that is not dependent on how upset or angry we become. Stay calm; keep the tone of your voice positive. To help with the process of finding your luggage, report it quickly and be able to identify the contents as well as describe the luggage. This is one good reason to make a packing list for the trip — and keep a copy at home for insurance purposes.

Be a trusty traveler from start to finish and don’t let any of these challenging circumstances get in the way of you having the best time in the world.

Remember — politeness, a good smile, and first class manners go many miles in making a traveler’s life a high-spirited experience.

Louise Elerding, is a manners, etiquette and personal appearance coach, and the author of “You’ve Got Manners!”  For information on table manners classes in the Santa Clarita Valley and to submit questions for the “Ask Louise’ column, e-mail


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