Part 1: The unspoken rulebook of airport etiquette
By Aimee Heckel
You’ve been standing in line for 45 minutes now, weaving back and forth past the same people. You’ve peeked at them 100 times, but carefully avoided eye contact. You’ve spent more time with these strangers than your actual spouse today, yet you know better than to strike up a conversation. So you bury your head into your smartphone and hope something interesting happens on Facebook soon.
You can take classes and read books about dining and party etiquette. But what about airport etiquette — the unspoken, unofficial do’s and don’ts of social interaction?
Here are a few airport etiquette rules, as well as pet peeves from other travelers.
1. You are not funny. Repeat after me: Airport security does not find it amusing for you to joke about hoping they don’t find the cocaine you stashed in your baby stroller. You’re slowing down the line. You’re probably going to get pulled off to the side and frisked, if not sequestered to a holding room. That is your penance for bad taste, my friend.
2. Keep your personal activity, uh, personal. One traveler begrudgingly recalls, “Standout memory: Do not clip your toenails while waiting at the gate. It’s gross.” This goes for other kinds of body pruning and grooming. If you need to adjust your undergarments, there are bathrooms for that.
3. Respect the rules of the road. Kirsta, another traveler, laments, “The moving walkway is two lanes. If you’re standing, stand to the right and leave room to your left for people to walk/run.” Some of us have short layovers, and hurdling over your children and your luggage was not on our checklist when we woke up this morning.
4. Be informed. Especially if you are older or don’t travel often (like before 9/11). Read up on the modern restrictions and rules. No, you cannot bring your water bottle through security. Stop arguing. Yes, the security checkpoint officials really will throw away your expensive face lotion if it’s too big.
Also, remember that people with paper tickets can go to all of the TSA lines, whereas people with smartphone QR-code tickets have to stay in limited-access lines. If you have a paper ticket, get out of the mobile-ticket line. You don’t need to be there.
5. Learn to share. You really don’t need three chairs for your body, your coat and your lunch in the gate waiting area. If you see other people standing or sitting on the airport floor, be a peach and make some space. This goes for airport shuttles and trains, too. Remember, pregnant ladies and senior citizens automatically get dibs on the seats, no matter how tired you think your feet are.
“If you are alone, do not sit one chair in from the end in the waiting area. It’s a waste of a seat. Another alone person isn’t going to come sit by you,” says a traveler, Bridget.
This extends for onboard, too. “Let the pregnant woman have the aisle seat. I guarantee she is 110 percent more uncomfortable than you are, no matter what. Plus she has to go to the bathroom 800 times in a three-hour flight,” advises one traveler.
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