They're not in a handbook, but you need to know these rules of flying.
Some transgressions are obvious. Others, ambiguous moral gray zones you yourself have struggled with. Here, we wrote ‘em down. Now you know what all those glares have been trying to tell you.
Never ask if you can skip someone in the security line.If you’re at the point of panic, get an agent involved. Better yet, be on time.
Don’t get upset if the TSA agents are rude to you.Taking umbrage against a “rude” agent who’s just doing his or her job. It should also go without saying: Don't argue with the flight attendant.
Don’t leave, like, 20 bins of your personal belongings sitting on the edge of the conveyer belt for the poor schmuck behind you to push through while you la-di-da off to the body scanner.
Don’t ask a stranger to watch your stuff.
You can’t get mad if someone “cuts” you during boarding.Accept the boarding process as an absurdist attempt to bring order to chaos and just go with it. Time is a flat circle and we’re all going to Louisville at the same speed.
No hot food of any kind on a plane.Especially if it’s from a fast-food joint that has a highly identifiable smell. There’s nothing more atrocious than the trapped odors of grease and meat on a plane. Worse than snakes, even.
If you can’t lift your own bag, don’t carry it on.
The only acceptable place to fart on a plane is when you are walking through first class on the way to coach.
You are morally obligated to offer to switch seats so someone can sit next to the child, elderly, or sick person in their accompaniment. Otherwise, you have the right to refuse the request. Their honeymoon be damned.
Don't recline in economy.The amount of extra comfort you gain is nothing compared to the chain reaction of pain you have just set off behind you, in which every other passenger in your path is consigned to a modified form of the Trolley Problem, whereby they can either subject themselves and possibly the person next to them to hours of discomfort by doing nothing, or continue the chain reaction by reclining their own seat to gain a little room. If you have the world's most specific back problem and must sit at precisely a 110-degree angle, then turn around, ask the person behind you if this is OK, and give them time to arrange their laptop, knees, and soul for what you are about to inflict, you heartless life-ruiner who should have taken the bus.
Middle seat gets the arm rests. Always and without question. The unlucky soul in the middle seat has one thing going for them: sole ownership of the middle armrests. At best, you can maybe sort-of lean your elbow on the tiny edge of the armrest. “What if they aren’t using it, can I use it then?” NO. You audacious, privileged monster. Go back to enjoying your window and/or breathing room.
You are allowed to say something to a parent if their kid is being obnoxious. You are not allowed to be mean about a screaming baby. Because that baby is a baby, and thus cannot control its actions, and hushing it up is no cake walk. But parents, if you don’t intervene when your sugar-high five-year-old goes to town kicking my seat, don’t be aghast when I turn around and do it for you.
You are still responsible for yourself when you’re asleep. Someone once woke me up to inform me the drink cart was coming by. Not OK. The only time it's acceptable to wake your neighbor, besides having to pee, is when they’ve lost control of their basic faculties. No snoring so loudly people around you are snickering, no spilling over the sacred divide of the armrest between us and nestling your head on my shoulder.
Don’t HALF stand up when someone needs to get out of the row, forcing them to awkwardly crawl their way past your legs, trying as hard as possible not to touch your body. Stand up like a decent person and step out into the aisle.
Don’t grab the back of every seat when you walk down the aisle.Your fellow passengers don’t deserve to be yanked around every time you rise. Don’t use the back of the seat for momentum on your long crawl to the bathroom. If you're wearing a backpack while boarding, take it off and carry it by your side, because as soon as you turn, both your butt and your backpack are going to smack into someone's head.
Don’t get turnt.Remain charming to the flight attendants and they will readily booze you up because you’re such a delight. But remember your bloody mary does double duty at high altitude than it does on the ground, so slow your roll. And don’t you dare have the balls to place your auxiliary drink or food item on your neighbor’s tray table if you run out of space on yours.
Don’t freak out if there’s turbulence.When a plane feels bumpy, that’s not really “turbulence.” And I don't want to jinx anything, but actual turbulence -- even pretty gnarly turbulence -- isn't really dangerous. It's just dangerous to you, personally, if you don't know how to listen and put on your seatbelt when the pilot says so. (So put on your seatbelt.)
Don’t stick your bare feet out in the aisle.It may alarm you to know just how many people in this world have unnaturally strong feelings about the sight of feet.
If you have to use an airsickness bag, for the love of all the travel gods, double bag it. In fact, ask the people around you for their bags and reinforce it with as many layers as you possibly can
You may not rush to the front and cut people when you’re getting off the plane. When the seatbelt sign turns off, there’s always that scumbag in the back who attempts to charge his way up to wherever his carry-on is stowed. Or the scumbag who only has a backpack who tries to book it to the front. YOU WAIT. YOU FILE OUT. IN ORDER. Sole exception: Asking politely if you can go ahead because you have a connecting flight.
Don’t aggressively crowd the belt in baggage claim. You make your way down to baggage claim. You are tired. You find that perfect spot. You leave about 3 feet of space between you and the belt, so that if some other passenger sees their bag, they can swoop in and grab it. Don’t be the jerk who steps into that 3 feet of space and takes up residence. If your bag is late, grinding against the baggage carousel will not make it magically reappear. Sir, relax. Everyone’s trying to get home. You’ll get there too.