6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, The Do’s and Don’ts of Airplane Etiquette

(ABC 6 News) – It’s no secret that air travel can test your patience, from crowded planes to overpriced mediocre snacks and food.

But as unpleasant as it can be, following some basic common-sense rules can lessen the stress.

So, with holiday travel coming up, Consumer Reports unpacks the DO’s and DON’Ts of flying etiquette that could make your next trip – and everyone else’s – more pleasant.

Flight delays, long security checks and jam-packed planes make flying hard enough! Add in rude, inconsiderate passengers, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

But being courteous can mean different things to different people.

To clear the air, Consumer Reports consulted with flight attendants and etiquette experts to come up with an essential guide of unspoken rules.

To begin – Middle seat passengers should have access to both armrests.

“It’s the only real estate they own so let them get the consolation prize,” says Consumer Reports’ Margot Gilman.

And what about reclining? You certainly have the right to, but before you do, Gilman says, “Make sure you’re not inconveniencing the person behind you, who may be tall. You can also politely ask if they mind if you recline.”

Remember you’re sharing a confined space with others. That means don’t hoard the overhead bins, wear headphones when using devices, avoid unpacking anything smelly like pungent food, so no tuna salad sandwiches, and definitely, definitely keep your shoes on!

And what if a person wants to switch seats? Or if someone is kicking your chair? Gilman says, “It’s ok to politely ask them to stop.

And it’s ok to say no to switching seats – IF there’s a reason you chose that seat – like a window so you can sleep. But be flexible if it’s an equal trade – say an aisle seat one row back.”

If disruptions DO occur – someone gets angry or aggressive – Consumer Reports says it’s best not to take matters in your own hands. Tell a flight attendant who is trained to handle those kinds of situations.