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Let’s be civil: Airport and airplane etiquette


I have the impression that people forget all notions of courtesy the minute they step into an airport or an airplane. As they check-in their luggage, they also seem to check-out their manners and their common sense.

Queue jumping isn’t cute

Cutting the line is rude. Cutting the line while completely ignoring the person whose toes you’re almost stepping on is just plain insulting.

Sir, you saw me. How do I know? I saw you trying to avoid eye contact while you were easing your way to the spot in front of me. Oh! You only realized I was there when I touched your shoulder? Really! How about the other 12 people you walked by to get to that point? Sir, we all have a plane to catch. All 13 of us whom you decided to ignore. My Spanish may be broken, but my spirit isn’t. I will let you know that I’m not about that life.

That was the gist of a conversation (¡En español!) I had with a Spanish-speaking line-cutter on my way back from PauP last December. Peeps, my Spanish lessons paid off.

The next time you think about cutting the line: Don’t. Of course, there are extenuating circumstances: travelling with children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with disabilities, accompanied by airport staff. If any of the above applies, people will gladly let you go ahead of them. And if you’re running late, ask for permission. Don’t just breeze through.

Armrest hoggers are the devil

I once travelled from Montreal to PauP sitting on one butt cheek and a half. One of the rare times I regretted opting for the window seat. By the time we landed, I could barely feel my right leg. Not only did the man sitting next to me hogged the armrest during the entire trip, he also fell asleep and leaned right into my personal space. I tried to wake him up to no avail. I spent most of the flight pushing him away. My only respite: his one trip to the bathroom.

You paid good money for that trip, you expect to be comfy. I get that. But, guess what? We all did! Being mindful of the people around is important. Especially in the narrow seats back in coach.

A time to chat

If I had a dollar every time a person treated my open book or my headphones as an invitation to chat, well, I’d probably have $10. But that’s not the point here. The point is to be polite enough not to ignore clear signs of a person’s unwillingness or unavailability to chat.

I’ll gladly answer a question or partake in the eye-rolling session that accompanies the nth flight delay announcement. But please let me go back to reading my book or watching my show. Small talk is the bane of my existence. I’m not good at it; I wouldn’t want to bore you.

It may be just me…

People don’t owe you a conversation. Their being stuck on the same 8-hour flight as you doesn’t take away their agency. Respect their unwillingness to communicate.

That’s it for today, peeps.

Carry on!


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