Airline Etiquette

To arm rest or not to arm rest? That is the question. Surely the person in the middle owns both arm rests as compensation for being stuck between two strangers. So I thought, but apparently my fellow passengers disagreed and the flight was spent fighting for inches as if we were engaged in trench warfare. This got me thinking about other small matters of airline etiquette. After all, spending hours cramped in ever-shrinking seats, with imperfect strangers for company is an unnatural experience filled with pent up frustration at the slightest of slights. So we've collected a few economy class predicaments that we've all experienced...

Airplane Cabin

Battlefield Cabin

Crotch or Behind?
In a scene from Fight Club, Brad Pitt's character sums up this conundrum: "Now, a question of etiquette - as I pass, do I give you the behind or the crotch?". There seems to be no consensus on this matter except to say that if you know you're going to frequently visit the toilet, save your fellow passengers the hassle and pick the aisle seat.

The Newspaper Reader
Yes, we know broadsheets are dying and you may not have long to appreciate the feel of a crisp newspaper, but in cramped quarters the wingspan required to read a newspaper is a luxury that should be reserved for private jets and first class. The rest of us should just read books or jump into the 21st century and get a tablet.

The Slobby Sleeper
When a kid rests his head on your shoulder its cute and adorable. When a middle aged man is slobbering on your favourite shirt its creepy and yukky. The headrest is named that for a reason - sleep backwards: not sideways.

The Seat Recliner
The seat recliner seems to be everyone's favourite person to hate. Reclining takes up somebody else's limited legroom and one wonders why airlines continue to allow it. Most recliners indulge on your reluctance to fight for your space. Clear your throat and deliver a curt 'Excuse me' and the seat will pop up.

The Shoulder Surfer
The Shoulder Surfer reads your book over your shoulder, watches your movies and is nosy when you're working on your laptop. Usually a quick look back discourages shoulder surfers, but throwing objects is acceptable.

Self-Appointed Flight DJ
Usually he wears huge black ear cans and a hoodie, but the self-appointed Flight DJ comes in all types these days. If you've ever had to sit through the loud pop drivel that dribbles out his headphones, and the X Factor-reject singing that accompanies it, then you deserve an award for restraint. Why is it that no one ever plays classical music too loudly?

Share Your Pet Annoyance
Do you agree with our rules? Have any to add or anecdotes to share? Please comment below.

more blog posts

Gugulethu Hlekwayo

Gugulethu Hlekwayo

A timid traveller, but a traveller none the less; Gugulethu is in his element lost and without a map - preferably with a companion willing to listen to his tall tales. He's our resident expert on the best muffins in town.