So picture this. I’m in my seat on the plane, one row behind the bulkhead section. Around me, people are boarding and getting settled. Directly in front of me, in the bulkhead area, a man is standing with his back to the wall. He is conducting a business call, while facing the back of the plane, and — as a lecturer without a microphone might do — is speaking loudly enough for everyone to hear.
I glare at him. I become more agitated by the minute. I contemplate my options. Do I stand up, get in this guy’s face, chide him for his rudeness and ask him to be quiet? Do I tell him that no one cares about his multi-million-dollar deal? Do I offer my own advice on his negotiation skills? Or, do I do nothing?
The woman sitting next to me suddenly leans toward me and whispers, “Why are men so oblivious?” I laugh and say in return, “Women do this too.” “No! Really?” she exclaims. “Yup. Boy, could I tell you stories.” On that note, she goes back to her movie and I to my book. Neither one of us says anything to the guy on the phone. (Though, to no avail, I tried really hard to stare him down.) I knew he wouldn’t stop; no matter what I said or did. (My own husband ignores me when I call him out on this very same offense.)
I travel a lot these days. I try to stay connected 24/7 as many others do. I also have been in situations where I’m trying to end a call as I board a plane. But, I don’t pretend I’m on a private jet. When I travel, I am self-aware and understand I share the airport, gate areas, terminal shuttles, lounges, and planes with others. And, especially when I’m on a business trip, I don’t treat these public areas as extensions of my personal office. I do not think it’s fair or appropriate to allow my needs or issues to interfere with or usurp others’.
That said, I regularly encounter more than my fair share of different versions of rude, self-centered, and downright annoying airport behaviors. And so, I developed my very own “10 Commandments of Airport Etiquette.”
- Honor the airport as thou would a shared public place (e.g. malls, museums, theatres, etc.); use appropriate public behaviors.
- Honor airport workers and flight crews by thanking them. (They deserve recognition and appreciation for their efforts to keep things running smoothly.)
- Honor lines (e.g. for check-in, security clearance, passport control, boarding, and restrooms) with patience and understanding.
- Honor others’ personal spaces:
- Share arm rests. (Even the person sitting in a middle seat deserves one.)
- Recline thy seat slowly and carefully. (There may be a drink on the tray table behind you.)
- Pack compactly and share the overhead space. (Overhead compartments are not the same as the trunk of thy car.)
- Thou shalt be publicly appropriate in attire.
- Thou shalt use a calm “inside voice” at all times.
- Thou shalt silence all mobile devices. (“Sharing” movies, ring tones, video calls, etc. in public is not okay!)
- Thou shalt not kill others with thy body odors (e.g. too much perfume, smelling like smoke, or excessive sweat).
- Thou shalt not steal or pickpocket unassuming travelers.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s complementary upgrades.
Air travel can be stressful. It’s time away from family, friends, or the office. In addition, there are many annoying factors we cannot control. Delays, missed flights, or cancellations due to inclement weather cause angst. Lost luggage or delays at baggage claim cause hardships. Crowds, lines, and construction create frustration.
However, none of these are excuses for bad behavior. We each can control how we respond to the travel-related challenges we encounter. Minding the “10 Commandments of Airport Etiquette,” at the very least, is a start.