UPDATED: Now 23 Rules Nobody Told You, But You Need to Know About Air Travel

by Joe Lavelle on October 3, 2009

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10 Rules for Air Travel

Due to the overwhelming popularity and response from my original post, I have updated this post with additional rules provided by fellow road warriors.  I hope that you enjoy, obey and add your rules!

I have recently started traveling frequently (5 days a week) again and that has inspired me to share my rules for traveling.  Please let all of us know if I have missed anything!  Bring your sense of humor!

1)       Ok the airlines already told you this one, but they really mean it. Wait until your row number is called to board.  You are not any more important that the rest of us.  Airlines have developed efficient boarding processes since 9/11 and they work well to get everyone on and off the plane quickly.  PLEASE do not mess that up by acting as if you are more important than the rest of us.

2)      Ok they told you this too.  You are only allowed TWO carry-on bags.  See # 1 about whether you are more important than others and deserve special treatment.

3)      Put your bag in the overhead bin and sit down within 60 seconds.  This will require you to get organized prior to boarding.  If everyone takes 5 minutes to get settled and there are 180 passengers…  you can do the math.  Again, see #1 to see if you are more important than the rest of us and deserve more time.

4)      You do not have to check in AGAIN at the gate.  The airline gave you your boarding pass ( or you printed it yourself) so you could get through security.  If you do try to check again, you will only be clogging the line for me as I try to talk the agent into upgrading me instead of the five people ahead of me on the upgrade list.   I know, I need to see #1.

5)      DO NOT, under any circumstances, recline your seat.  That’s right.  Nobody ever told you this before, but it is just plain rude and inconsiderate.  The two inches that you recline behind you makes it IMPOSSIBLE for the person behind you to read, work on a computer, or otherwise function for the duration of the trip. If you start to feel uncomfortable after reclining, it is because you have likely trapped the knees of someone 6’ tall or taller and they can’t feel them anymore so they have to move them every sixty seconds to be sure they are still there.

6)      Don’t be a LOUD talker to your neighbor, especially if they are clearly trying NOT to engage in your conversation by putting on their headphones, surrounding their face with their newspaper or book or working on their computer.

7)      DO NOT knock me over to get to your bag on the conveyor belt.  Find your own space and wait until the bag gets to you.

8)      DO clean up after yourself in the airplane restroom.  It’s gross enough in their already.

9)      DO everything you can to help a parent that is traveling alone with kids.  If you have traveled alone with kids before you are shaking your head in agreement vigorously.  If not, you probably DISAGREE violently.  You just need to trust me,  You will be re-paid in spades later for a small effort now.  I am sure whatever God you worship is shaking his or her head.

Note: There was definitely 2 camps on the traveling with kids topic.   Some strongly against and some strongly for this rule.  My $0.02 on this is guided by the saying “where you stand has everything to do with where you sit.”  When I was single, I detested having to wait 30 seconds for a family to get situated in front of me.  Now that I am a parent, I understand how hard it is to travel with kids.

10)   DO travel in your comfortable clothes, keep a toothbrush and any medications with you on the plane, and see #1 one more time.

Please don’t take any of my poor humor too seriously, but please do follow the rules!  Happy and Safe Travels…..

For more on this topic from some of my heroes, mentors, and/or thought leaders, check out these out:

Here are the great rules added by travel warriors that follow my blog.  Thank you to all who added your rules!

11)  (from Nigel Hardy) Always be nice and polite to the staff at check-in, boarding and on-board.  This is especially true when you fly weekly to the same destinations; they will remember you and you will soon become that #1 more important than others at the top of their upgrade lists!

12)  (from Linda – I think this was my sister!)   As I am hyperorganized, I will have done everything humanly possible to prearrange an aisle seat. for myself So unless you have small children and need to switch in order to sit next to them, DO NOT ask me to switch into your middle or window seat because YOU didnt get your crap together ahead of time and reserve yourself your own aisle seat. Either I will say yes and then will have high blood pressure from resentment for the rest of the day, or I will say no and have high blood pressure for the rest of the day because you made me feel like a jerk.

13) (from Linda again) When I am seating in my previously-described prearranged aisle seat, DO NOT come barreling down the aisle when you are boarding with your way-too-big 100-pound carryons slung over your shoulder, smacking me on the head as you go by. Thank you.

(next 3 from Andrea)

14) Do NOT use your iPod headphones as if you were deaf: this may disturb my reading or working or relaxing
15) Do NOT switch on your mobile phone before the airplane has stopped engines: are you different from others (rule #1)?
16) Do NOT push your knees against the seat back in front of you, you might be irritating the person sitting in right before you

(re: Andrea’s #16 from Freyja). Being a nearly 6 foot tall female who prefers a window seat (and shoots for the exit row whenever I can) that isnt always physically possible, as my knees alone will keep the person in front of me from breaking #5. I have had people bodily fling themselves against the seat trying to get it to go back and if somehow they do get it back my knees will be firmly planted in their lower bits with movement every few minutes or so to remind my toes they are not on vacation.

(next 2 from Ludmilla)

17) Do your best to consolidate your carry-on stuff way before you reach the gate, definitely before reaching the security point. When you spread all of your dozen or so small packages on the belt – you considerably slow down the rest of us in line behind you.

18) Do pay attention to the 3-1-1 rule. As idiotic as you may think it is, this is the rule – so follow it and don’t wait until they tell you multiple times in-a-row to show them your liquids. See rule #1 again. Don’t slow me down – it is my mission to get through this procedure as fast as possible.

(next 2 from t22)

19) If you are sitting in a middle seat, get there early. Nobody wants to suffer that illusion of having the middle seat open during the flight, only to have such dreams violently dashed by the smiling, usually large person, who is about to slide into that tiny little seat next to you just before the plane door closes!

20) Most flights in the US are relatively short, I know they don’t serve food anymore, but do you really need that double tuna sandwich to pick at during the entire 2 hour flight?

21) (from Lisa) If you are traveling with children, bring activities and snacks to keep them occupied. Depending on age – videos, coloring books, cars, books, cards. A tired, hungry child with nothing to do is no fun whether at home or on a plane.

22) (from Mike Medulan) Executive Travel Tip – Always avoid travelling on Holidays when the rookies are out. Like the Fonz said “Saturday nights are for Rookies” – avoid Thanksgiving, Christmas and any other Holiday that requires presents. Whining executives are much worse than kids – at least the kids have an excuse – they are children (by age).

23) (from Kurt Weirich) Regional jets have smaller overhead bins. If the agent says you need to gate check your bag, you need to gate check your bag.  The corollary to #23 is: On regional jet flights you can avoid a checked bag fee by gate checking your carryon. You’ll also get it back at the ramp at your destination instead of having to wait at baggage claim.

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