Travel tips: The holidays are the busiest travel days of the year. That”s no surprise. Also, no surprise that the reports of unruly passengers re increasing. Etiquette is as important at the airport and during the flight as it is anywhere else, so we can all avoid air rage, the flight version of road rage.
A recent report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that unruly passenger incidents increased by 14% last year. In all, 10,854 cases of air rage were reported in 2015, up more than 10 percent from 2014, with 9,316 reported cases.
Here are ten tips to minimize the stress that leads to air rage, and to help you fly with the best airplane attitude at all altitudes:
Avoding stress before your flight
Get to the airport early. Few things are more stressful than almost missing your flight, or missing the cut-off time to check baggage. Checking in early also gives you the chance to ask check-in attendants for a better seat in your pay grade.
Plan Ahead: Familiarize yourself with the airline’s WiFi options, download and set up a Gogo Inflight account for wireless internet and entertainment in-flight. Arrive prepared with downloaded e-books, extra battery chargers, reading material and music to enjoy in-flight and flight delays. Also, I never leave home without a snack. My choice is a homemade mix of dried fruit and nuts. And bring a refillable water bottle. You’ll be saving money by avoiding buying throwaway bottles, plus you will be doing something nice for the environment.
Flight Notifications: When booking your flight, subscribe to flight notifications for departure and arrival terminals. The notifications include gate changes and delays, and will even tell you which baggage claim carousel has your luggage.
Behave and watch your words: All airport behavior is currently under heightened scrutiny these days because of the increased threat of terrorism. Security officers and airline crews have the right to deny boarding to aggressive or unruly passengers. There’s a big difference between being upset and being angry about it. Anger will get you in trouble anywhere, including at the airport.
Avoiding stress on board your flight
Reclining the seat: Unless you are flying First or Business class, airplane space is tighter than ever, and must be shared. Try asking the passenger behind you before reclining your seat. Do not start a brawl by jamming the seat in front with a controversial device like the Knee Defender. It’s frowned upon by the FAA, and in-flight crews don’t like it because it starts trouble. Or, spend the extra bucks for a premium economy seat to get more legroom, or opt to be seated in an exit row. The downside of an exit row, though, is the seat won’t recline.
Share the armrest: Don’t be an armrest hog. Play nicely and share, especially with three or more seats in a row. The middle seat travelers have priority for armrests because they don’t have a window to lean up against or an aisle for extra room. If you have the aisle or window seat, it’s just good manners to give the armrest to the middle seat that doesn’t have as much space.
Watch the volume: Be courteous with your headsets. Turning the volume up high can “leak” sound and disturb your seatmates, especially if one of them is trying to sleep. It happened to me recently on an international flight, when the passenger in the middle was asked by both of us in the aisle and window seats to lower the volume. The abuser was so abusive it took intervention by one of the crew members to lower the volume – of the argument, and also the movie.
Oh, baby: We’ve all been on flights with a crying or fussy baby or toddler. Accept that baby freak-outs happen. If you are travelling with a young child, parents bring ear-plugs to give to nearby passengers, and pre-apologize for potential crying.
Seat Kicking: It’s right up there with armrest hogging as one of the top in-flight etiquette no-no’s. Just don’t. Parents travelling with young kids need to put a stop to this right away.
I’ll drink to that: The IATA report shows that up to 23% of unruly passenger cases in 2015 involved alcohol. Avoid excessive drinking before boarding, and on board, limit your alcohol to just one drink. Also avoid caffeine, in the form of coffee, tea or cola drinks. High altitudes can dehydrate your body, and alcohol and caffeine just exacerbate. A good rule of thumb is to drink 8 ounces of water for every hour you are in the air, another reason to have your own refillable water bottle, so you don’t have to wait for the cabin crew to serve you.
Respect Other Passengers: Share cabin space appropriately by keeping your footwear on, storing your personal belongings under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin, and complying with all flight attendant instructions, especially when it relates to hand held devices and technology.
Expect the Best, Plan for the Worst: Your travel day may include blue skies or stormy delays, so avoid flying the same day as an important business or social event, such as a wedding or that speech you are giving. Fly the day before to settle in and settle down.
Flight Notifications: When booking your flight, subscribe to flight notifications for departure and arrival segments. Enjoy the stress-relief of receiving an airline call, text or email with arrival gates, flight status and baggage claim.