You’ve probably read recently about passengers having disputes over reclining their seats. Some of the incidents even forced flights to land. A plane having to land unexpectedly is a headache for everyone: it costs the airline thousands of dollars and causes passengers inconvenient delays in their travels.

As this has turned into such a hot topic of debate, UNIGLOBE experts answer some pertinent questions on airplane etiquette.

Q.Should I recline my seat or not?

A. As airlines continue to squeeze more seats onto each plane, legroom is at a premium for anyone who hasn’t paid to upgrade their seat. While it’s your right to recline your seat, a little courtesy never goes amiss. Give the person behind you a warning that you’re about to do so, so they can grab their drink or move their legs and recline your seat slowly. And never have it reclined during meals.

If the person seated behind you is extremely tall, you may find that their knees are going to prevent your seat from reclining - even a polite request can’t help fix the problem If it’s a short flight, you will hopefully survive with your seat in an upright position. If it’s a longer flight and you really need to lean back or even take a nap, consider asking the flight attendant if you can move elsewhere on the plane. For long flights it may really pay to upgrade to a premium seat as there is a bit more room between rows so less chance of this occurring at all.

Be considerate in your use of overhead bins

With passengers trying to avoid paying for checked luggage, space in the overhead compartments is hard to come by, creating another point of discord. If you have two pieces of carry-on, do be prepared to place one of them at your feet, thus leaving room overhead for your seatmate’s bag.

We’ve seen many cases where a passenger is seated near the front of the section while their bag is stored in an overhead compartment at the back of the plane, meaning they have to wait for the entire plane to empty before they can get back to retrieve their luggage. You might, justifiably, be a bit upset if you had a quick connection to make and that happened to you.

Q.Who gets the armrest?

A.If you’re in the aisle or window seat, feel some compassion for the passenger stuck in the middle seat. They’re already feeling constricted, with nowhere to move their legs or rest their head; it’s only fair that they be allowed to use at least one of the armrests. If you’re not in the middle seat, you already have one armrest that is yours alone, consider sharing the other one.

Q.What if I need to get out of my seat?

A.Plan ahead for when to leave your seat. Try to stay seated when the flight attendants are serving in the aisle and please don’t try to get out while your seatmates are still eating.

Disembark the plane politely

If you’re one of those passengers who leap up the second the plane stops moving and pushes your way to the front of the plane, it might be time to re-think your exit strategy. Everyone is as eager as you are to disembark. You’ll have plenty of time to gather your belongings and a little courtesy will be appreciated by your fellow travelers. If you’re on the aisle, consider helping your seatmates retrieve their belongings from the overhead compartment.

Unless you’re in a rush to make a connection and have already spoken to the flight attendant about exiting first, it’s only polite to exit in order of seat rows.

Q.What about before you ever board the plane?

A.In an effort toward maximum efficiency, airplanes are often boarded in a specific order of groups or row numbers. Adhere to the instructions and don’t try to board out of order. All you’re going to do is upset the flight attendants and your fellow passengers.

While all of our suggestions are simply common sense, we all get caught up in the stress of travel and sometimes forget our manners. Next time you fly, why not see if you can go out of your way to make someone else’s travel experience a little less stressful. It’s good karma!

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