Airplane Etiquette

May 4, 2017
(the customary code of polite behavior for those flying in a commercial airplane)
Suffolk
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Sitting here at my desk at the Institute of Boggus Talk (IBT), I was just reading about a fellow that was forcibly removed from his flight, only because he drew the short straw on an overbooked flight that no one else would volunteer to give up their seat on.  Yes, it was a bit of an ordeal, according to the article, with him being forcibly removed from the aircraft.  This caused me to wax poetically remembering a couple of chaps who, according to their fellow passengers, began speaking in Arabic and perhaps using threatening conversation during the boarding process.  This, similarly, resulted in their removal from the aircraft as well.

As you might guess, this resulted in the best minds of the IBT to start thinking about what can we do to promote more humane and reasonable etiquette that should be expected by those who fly.  No, that is not a fire you smell, that is just the smell of cogitation of IBT professionals.  Yes, we were tempted to create a list of the 7 Words That You Cannot Say on an Airplane, similar to the literary work performed by George Carlin first in 1972, but quickly realized that actually putting that into print might cause more harm than good.  Instead, we rapidly focused on developing the DBAD code for airplane passengers.  What is DBAD you say?  The IBT has defined it as Don’t Be A Dolt (although there are many descriptive words you can use in place of dolt.

Similar to Mr. Carlin, the IBT has defined seven (7) airplane etiquette items (SAE) that passengers need to be schooled on.  Let’s look at them in detail, shall we?

1. If you are not in first class, you generally cannot pull your roller bag behind you down the aisle without catching it on the armrest on either side of the aisle or magically threading the armrest through the handle bringing you train of luggage to a sudden stop and causing dieback in the line behind you.  Please carry your baggage or if you have one of those carry-ons that will roll sideways use it that way.  Those of us with elbows will appreciate your consideration.

2. Unless you are at a bulkhead, only one item goes up.  The other goes at your feet.  There are some that consistently seem to be more worthy than others that cannot be bothered with anything at their feet and therefore stow everything in the overhead bin leaving less room for the poor folks boarding in the steerage group.

3. And for Pete’s sake, when you put your item overhead, make sure the dang thing fits.  I love watching some numskull leaving their bag hanging out of the overhead bin that obviously does not fit. This, of course, leaves it to later in flight when a flight attendant has to play kindergarten teacher and ask, “who’s bag is this” to which everyone looks around as if it somehow magically appeared on the aircraft.  The culprit is only revealed, typically, when they threaten to take it off the plane.  Really?

4. Now I’m going to type this part really slow, so that those that cannot read fast can digest this.  In every plane I’ve ever been on, including Southwest Airlines, when walking from the front of the plane toward the rear the “A” seat is always the window seat on the right side.  While it may not seem natural, the “B” seat is generally next to the “A” seat.  In coach if it is a 3-3 seating configuration, the right window is “A” and the left window is “F”.  Which, would lead you to discern that the right aisle seat is “C” and the left aisle seat is “D”.  Oh, and one other thing, the rows are generally numbered sequentially from small numbers to big numbers in the back so if you are in row 28, you are generally not near the front of the aircraft.  And finally, if your seat is on the left side, don’t pick your row number by the row on the right side.  Some aircraft rows are offset from right to left.

5. In your big luxurious coach seat, please recline gently.  It is bad form to press the button and slam the seat back thinking you may somehow, with enough force, convert your seat to a lie-flat bed.  There’s not much room between rows these days and the sudden and unexpected slam-back can cause more than casual conversation between the participants, including ejection from the flight.  It is acceptable to make a “back-up beeping noise” when reclining just to let your fellow passengers know your intentions.

6. Yes, it can be a struggle to properly use the toilet in flight, especially, if there is chop.  While this condition seems to affect men more than women there are some that must generally go in the woods when not on a plane.  Might I suggest lowering the seat and lid when complete?  If you have had trouble sighting the target in, make sure you use the Boy Scout motto and leave the area better than you found it.  And, for those that still wash their hands afterwards, here’s a tip, once you are done, press the lever that will pop up the sink stopper and let all that water drain.  Easy peasy.

7. Finally, please do not text as you are exiting the plane.  It has been shown time after time that texting and walking leads to accidents like falling into ponds, fountains, etc.  Plus, no matter what you think of your walking and texting skills, not only do you walk slower while texting you also weave.  The IBT is advocating trap doors in jetbridges so that those texting will fall to the apron leaving the rest of us to exit the aircraft at a much faster pace.

Using the IBT’s DBAD code for SAE in these times of nearly 100 percent load factors will help contribute to the pleasant experiences of all those flying, including those wearing leggings.  Next issue we tackle the hard hitting conversation of whether or not drones should be allowed to be flown in the cabin during flight.

Roddy is the Executive Vice President of Aviation at Suffolk where he is responsible for National Aviation Strategy, Pipeline Sourcing, and Tier Accounts. A 30 year aviation professional, he is an Architect with a Bachelors’ of Design from Texas Tech University. Roddy is the 2017 Board Chair of the Airport Consultants Council (ACC) and sits on the Board of Directors for the International Partnering Institute (IPI) as well as the International Association of Airport Executives (IAAE).

About the Author

Roddy Boggus | Vice President of Aviation

Roddy Boggus, AIA, NCARB, is a senior vice president of aviation at RS&H. A 30-year aviation professional, he excels in both airline- and airport-based practices as well as alternative delivery methods. Roddy is a facilities expert who has helped many large and medium hub airports streamline and provide exceptional service stakeholders through passenger flow, queuing, and operational efficiencies. He is a former Board Chair for the Airport Consultants Council (ACC) and Airports Council International (ACI) and has also served the International Association of Airport Executives (IAAE). He can be reached at [email protected].

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