A tactful guide to travel etiquette
Much of the thrill of travelling can fade away if you are not prepared for your trip. Before you recline your seat, pop your earplugs and wait for a round of free snacks and drinks, think again. There is much that can go wrong. Follow some of our tips and be a pleasant companion to your fellow travellers and enjoy your trip.
-Be prepared. Reading the airlines restrictions carefully prior to departure is essential. There is nothing more upsetting than arriving at an airport check in desk and politely being pushed around by ground handling staff to pay that extra fee for overweight of your bike bag or for a boarding card you haven’t printed out in advance. Surprises often lead to stress. Be prepared for your journey and save yourself from unwanted surprises, embarrassment and arguments with check-in personnel.
-Be aware of the volume of your voice. You can easily get carried away, forgetting about where you actually are, chatting on in excitement about things that may not be of interest to your fellow travellers. Standing in the check in queue, waiting for boarding or on board an aircraft, you will constantly be surrounded by other travellers, unless you choose the fast lane and a 1st class cabin on an A380 flight. The socially acceptable intensity of your voice differs defending on the country you’re in. Adapt to the local conditions and avoid getting the “travel jerk” stamp. My best advice is to take a little break from communication and to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet.
-Don’t mess with the authorities. Air transport connects businesses to markets, brings families and friends together and enriches lives by bridging cultures. Sounds like a happy place and a jolly good time. Reality is, that aviation is a tough business, with more than $2.2 trillion of economic activity, 57 million jobs and over 3 billion people travelling each year. The aviation business’ number one goal is to make sure that your trip is safe and secure. Do yourself and others a favour, show some respect and don’t annoy personnel or customs staff . Responding to the question on what’s inside your luggage or bike bag with “a bomb” is not funny and will most probably bring you straight into custody. Let people do their job with dignity and you will be treated with respect and thanks.
-Be ready, when it’s Your Turn. You probably know what it feels like to be the first or wanting to be first. Travelling can be a race against time for some. Whether you are in a hurry or just drifting along, if it’s your turn in the queue, whatever it is you have to do, you better be ready or get a move on and not waste fellow travellers’ time. Some of the easiest ways to save time include having your passport ready at check in and not fumbling around to find it while the check in personnel stares at you, impatiently waiting like the rest in line. You will also find that you will spend quite some time queuing for security checks. Rather than freezing in state of shock over police and customs officers or staring holes into the ceiling you now have enough time to make sure you are ready for when it is your turn. Take your belt off, remove your laptop from your bag, empty your pockets, take off any jewellery you may have on you and wait patiently to be instructed by the customs officer to place your items and walk through the x-ray scanner. You might be asked to take your shoes off, too.
-Dress appropriately. There is nothing wrong with wearing comfortable clothing. You will spend many hours on your feet, in waiting lounges, broken escalators and at times in grey Recaro seats. Don’t relax your vigilance too much and avoid the beach look, wearing shorts, T-shirt and flip flops. Remember that you may be asked to take your shoes of at the security check. A clean pair of socks without holes are an advantage. Be casual, comfortable, clean and you will travel with ease.
-Be considerate. Ever tried rushing to your gate to catch a connection flight and felt you’re you’re competing in the hurdle race at the Olympics? Be thoughtful and don’t lay your luggage around or block others people’s paths. Catching someone on video, making a dive over your luggage, might get the views on YouTube as the next best fail video, but is not exactly thoughtful and will most probably result in a riot!
-Don’t stand in the way. Ever. If you want to annoy people travelling, the best way to do so is to move with the crowd and stop abruptly as if you had been struck by lightning. Alternatively, just stand around in an entrance, aisle, gate or any other place people have to walk through. Be mindful and do not stand in front of things.
-Walk on the left. Stand on the right. Respect the fast lane on escalators and moving sidewalks. You will appreciate a clear path when you are in a hurry. If you are in a hurry, take care of your luggage and don’t block people trying to jog around it.
-Middle seats own the armrests. Ever drew a blank at check in and spent 3 hours sandwiched between two people? Generous seatmates, located on the aisle or window will share one armrest. However, this does not mean you can insist on conversing with your seatmate.
-Travel with the right equipment. The ticket price and accommodation often seem be to the first thing that comes to mind when going abroad. A robust container to carry valuable belongings and some savvy gadgets to make it more of a pleasant journey are the least thought of. You will often see travellers with worn out suitcases or inappropriate containers for their belongings. Not only should your luggage conform with airlines requirements. The last thing you want to happen is to arrive at your destination and discover your luggage has been lost or damaged. While it may be amusing for some to see your undies rotating around the luggage carousel, you will probably not be amused claiming your lost or damage baggage with the airline personnel upon arrival. Invest in good luggage keeping in mind the value of its contents.
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