Crash Course in Travel Etiquette

By Robert Allen

ven seasoned world travelers need a refresher course in travel etiquette from time to time. If leasing a private jet isn’t an option for your next trip, there are a few things you want to keep in mind.

The most significant travel trends of the past few years have come because of the global pandemic. Before you head to the airport, know what’s going to be required of you in terms of masking or vaccination. There may be different requirements for the terminal, whose rules are governed by the terminal owner and the TSA, and the actual flight, whose rules are provided by the airline. There may also have been some changes in amenities and services available, even for first-class passengers.


It’s also important to remember how security works. It seems basic, but you’ll be amazed how many people forget to take the keys out of their pockets and must be manually scanned, slowing down the entire line. No matter how late you are, don’t ask to skip ahead in the security line. Not only will you seem self-important to other passengers, but there’s also a pretty good chance the TSA agents will only slow things down, making you even later than you already were.


Once you’re in the air and trying to be productive, be cognizant of those around you. Loud Zoom calls without a headset or a briefcase spilling out into the aisle are a pain for other passengers, as well as your flight attendants. Make use of VIP services and rooms, as they’ll usually have plenty of space for you to do what you need.


Remember that the airplane staff are there to take care of you, but that ultimately every one of them has a single goal in mind — get to the destination safely. Retired CEO of Continental Airlines Gordon Bethune said it well: “I don’t know of any pilots that don’t have a self-interest in staying alive.” Sometimes things won’t go well when you’re in a hollow metal tube careening through the sky at several hundred miles per hour. Keeping perspective of where you and the airplane staff are reduces the impact of occasional frustrations.


Perhaps most important, remember the cardinal rule of commercial airline travel: middle seat gets both armrests.