Etiquette is more than just knowing what fork to use. Airports require an understanding of "etiquette" to improve morale and expedite service. We have all encountered individuals who simply don't know what they are doing or only care about themselves.

Maryglenn McCombs of Select Books reports, "in this day and age, traveling is stressful enough. Rude obnoxious, impolite and downright oblivious behavior is no longer the exception; too often, it is the norm." Colleen Rickenbacher, a frequent flyer and etiquette expert maintains "it is past time for a refresher course in basic travel etiquette. " A little common courtesy, respect and consideration can make a world of difference." I offer this summation of do's and don'ts for your airport experience.


  • Don't yell at the staff or be rude to them. After all they are looking after your luggage and your flight.
  • Use the self check in kiosks whenever possible to speed you through.
  • Be courteous and polite. It won't hurt.


These may seem obvious or trivial but all are important.

To prepare, visit http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/simplifly.shtm for TSA guidance.

"If you can pack it, you can rack it" suggests Mary Jo Manzanares in her book "Back to Basics: Boarding the Plane & Stowing Your Bags" Many people use carry on baggage to avoid checking luggage. Carry on luggage requires you to stow your suitcase in an overhead compartment on the plane and/or under the seat in front of you. If you can't lift your bag over your head comfortably - then check it.

  • Make sure your bags are the right size.

If you do not know the rules regarding liquids, deodorant, toothpaste, colognes, etc, then check with the airport. Remember the 3-1-1 of the TSA: 3 ounce bottle or less (by volume); 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. Don't try to sneak through with a non allowable size. You will be caught and submitted to more time consuming searches as well as irritate everyone in line.


If you have a disagreement at security, then write a letter when you get home. But for the moment, if a uniform person tells you to do something, then do it.

  • Don't wait until you get to security to prepare for inspection.
  • If you have coins or keys or card cases, etc, place them in the bag prior to security. You can take them out on the other side.

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  • Have your boarding pass and ID out and ready before you reach the checkpoint.

Waiting and Boarding

  • When walking through the terminal, don't stop in the middle of the walkway. Step to the periphery to let others pass.
  • When exiting a walkway or escalator don't stop at the end but move away to check directions or others will run into or over you.
  • If you are not going to use an electrical outlet, then don't sit next to it. Many people are charging phones or laptops or doing work on laptops, while waiting for flights. There is only a limited amount of outlets available so don't block them.
  • If a person is hooked up to a receptacle, try to avoid walking over their wires. Likewise if using a receptacle, keep your wires to a minimum and don't block the walkways.

The Ride

  • Check behind you and recline your seat slowly so the person behind you can be ready to have you in their lap for the rest of the flight.
  • During the flight, if you have to get up, don't pull on the seat in front of you. You may pull the seat down and possibly pull someone's hair.
  • Armrest wars - three seats, four armrests. Try to get along and be nice to your fellow seat mates. If you do get an armrest, don't spill over into another's seat space.
  • Don't shout to each other - watch the volume of conversation.
  • When using a cell phone at the appropriate time, don't yell into the phone. Everyone does not need to know your vacation highlights or who is meeting you at the gate.
  • Certain behavior is not appropriate on the plane: clipping nails, picking any part of the body, shaving, spitting, trimming nose hairs, etc.
  • Using a little airport etiquette will help make the experience more pleasant and expedient. By working together, we can make the trip more enjoyable.

Remember everyone is going somewhere.

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