Top 5 Travel Etiquette Tips

One of the hardest things for me to get a grasp on when I first started traveling often was the etiquette. I promise, it’s not that I’m a rude person–there are just scenarios that new travelers aren’t even aware of, and it can take a lot of travel to finally figure it all out. So if you are a new frequent flier, or maybe someone who doesn’t fly all that regularly but still wants to be polite, here are my top five etiquette tips for travel.

1. After you go through the security line, pick up your bins and suitcase and get out of the way. I mentioned this during my security post recently, but this is a biggie. If everyone got their stuff and moved out of the way, security lines would move much faster!
2. Put your suitcase in the overhead bin near your seat. It is very aggravating to people sitting in the front to open the bins all around their seat, only to find there is no space left because people sitting in the very back took it. Obviously if the bins near your seat are full that is a different scenario. But if you’re sitting in row 30 and you put your bags over row 8 just because, I think it’s rude.
3. When you’re getting up out of your seat, don’t grab the seat in front of you for balance. This is one of those things that I never thought about until I started flying often. It may feel like you’re barely touching the seat, but I promise you the person sitting there feels it jarringly. If you need help getting up, use your own seat.
4. Be mindful about reclining. I have done several posts about whether or not reclining your seat is rude, and the community definitely has strong, differing opinions about it! If you choose to recline your seat, do it slowly, and don’t do it during mealtimes. Some people prefer to ask the person behind them. If that works for you, great! It seems like it would be awkward to me.
5. Be patient when you’re deplaning. Don’t push and shove to get out. If someone near you has a tight connection, let them go first. If you have a tight connection, let the people around you know so they can let you pass.

In the end, I recommend that people take a deep breath and try not to let things bother them. At the same time, treat others the way you would like to be treated!

Readers, what do you think are the most important etiquette rules during travel?

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  1. […] tips which I fully agree with… Top 5 Travel Etiquette Tips – Road Warriorette I would add another one or two about boarding: – keeping the boarding area at the gate clear […]


  1. Disagree with #1. The holdup is the scanning time of the TSA agents via conveyor belt. I have never had instances where I am wishing the people in front of me would just grab their stuff and move off. It is ALWAYS the TSA carry-on scans that take forever.

  2. #3 is a big pet peeve of mine. The jarring makes my head hurt and if I am not full, makes me dizzy too. I wish people (and flight attendants going by) would quit doing it.

    Most people can push off of their armrests, but choose to pull on the seat in front instread. Sometimes, they also catch my (short) hair too! And not once has someone apologized for launching me in my seat.

    I would add one more item to your list – please do not wear perfume or cologne or bathe in perfumed body wash before a flight. There is no escaping the smell for those that cannot handle it.

  3. When moving down the aisle with all of your baggage, please be aware of your shoulder bags that are banging in to everyone that is seated already.

  4. Another one is, keeping one’s cool. Yes the plane is delayed (out of our control), no you’re not the only one affected by this (we all are). Just relax, and make the best out of it. A sense of humor goes a long ways. Just think of the gate agents, or flight attendants that actually have to deal with thousands of people like that weekly. 🙂

  5. I agree that #1 is not correct. However, as far as security lines go, it would be nice if people prepared for this better ahead of time. Slip on shoes perhaps? Get your laptops and liquids out quickly. This doesn’t have to be a long process.

  6. I’m not sure if clearing out from the pickup point at airport security will make the lines faster, but it is good manners. The people who want to put their shoes and belts back on while standing by the conveyor belt do seem quite piggish.

    I agree with all of these points. The bottom line is to actually think of other people’s interests just a bit. That’s often in short supply among just enough people to make things more difficult for all.

    BTW, isn’t it odd how many people jump up with their coats and pull down their luggage, getting ready to run down the aisle from the back of the plane, when experience tells us we’ve got at least five minutes of waiting until the others get off?

    Even if they are rude and try to jump ahead of the people who should be allowed to go ahead, they will have saved about 10 seconds. Human nature … never ceases to amaze.

  7. If you go through security well organized #1 should not be necessary. I put my shoes on the belt 1st (slip on). Before my other items make it through the scanner I have my shoes back on. Next is my backpack which I unzip while waiting for my laptop which I immediately place the laptop in the backpack. Next is the dog bowl with my liquids which I immediately grab and shove in the open outside pocket of my suitcase which is the last item out.

    My big pet peeve is those that, without a tight connection, push their way to the front of the plane and look at those of us who are trying to use common courtesy (row by row) like we’re crazy or just try to push us out of the way.

  8. I would add a couple more

    Have what you need for your flight already out so you are not holding up people boarding the flight with you looking through your carry on for your book/pen/laptop whatever

    If you have a backpack on take if off when you enter the plane. There is nothing worse than being hit in the face by someone who is not aware of how much space they are taking up

    No really smelly food

    Just my two cents worth.

  9. Re #1 — TSA/airports need to make more room at the end of the security process. Less experienced travelers shouldn’t feel rushed off the belt, shoes in hand, bags opened, etc. They will end up leaving/losing items, further enriching TSA (I’m still angry about those glasses they claimed they didn’t find at O’Hare United terminal last year). While I travel routinely for work and get to use the pre-check line nearly 100% of the time, I don’t rush off the conveyor belt when in the regular lines. I have to wait for my laptop, ipad, shoes, coat, belt, etc. even when I’m in the perfect travel shoes/outfit it still takes time to get your stuff back, redress and repack. Sorry, not walking across the filthy floor any further than I have to!

  10. @CTM I have found that if I put my shoes on the belt first, I can drop them on the floor and step into them while waiting for my suitcase and other items. On travel days I won’t wear shoes that require a lot of effort to put on. However, in this case I’m mostly referring to the people who drop a bunch of coins and loose items into their bins and then pick them up, painstakingly, slowly, one thing at a time. It may not be the only thing slowing security down, but it definitely plays a part!

  11. I am also bothered when people take up overhead space because they do not feel like holding things that should be held (e.g., please hang your suit jacket from the hook or lay it across your lap, or even across your luggage up top, but do not take up a suitcase spot on a full flight because you don’t feel like holding small items or having them at your feet.)

    I also agree with #2, creates chaos.

  12. A general etiquette principle that I think is important on planes too: be considerate of the very young and old. Realistically, you can’t do much to change the speed with which you get off the plane, but you can offer to lift down luggage for elderly people and people traveling with small children, making everyone’s travel experience much nicer.

    I completely agree with TravelMoreRoads on using the space under the seat in front of you before putting things in the overhead compartment.

    It is nice when security has a place for people to reassemble themselves, with tables or benches, but most don’t, so people have no choice but to stay there while they get dressed again and put their things away.

  13. Hello, I have only just joined this discussion group and agree 100% with all the comments that have been posted. May I also add a pet peeve – people that have loud and long conversations, especially if it is an overnight flight. I hate having to listen to people telling each other how great they are at a loud level. Keep quiet please.

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