Rudeness is rampant on airplanes these days. Some travelers appear to check their manners (and common sense) with their luggage. They settle into the plane as if they were in their own living rooms, oblivious to the fact that there are a few hundred people sharing the same small metal tube. It would be great if flight attendants reviewed basic etiquette when they give the safety presentation, but barring that, here are some tips to help you manage bad behavior on planes.
1. Lead by example
Take stock of your own flight habits and try to practice the golden rule so that others might learn from your example. Also, remember that although you can't control other people's behavior, you can control your response to it.
2. Set seat boundaries
Passengers with good manners check behind them before reclining the seat back slowly or just halfway. If you have an obtuse passenger in front of you who slams the seat back fully the second the plane takes off, tap her on the shoulder and ask her to please adjust the seat so you can use your laptop. As for the armrest, it should be shared 50-50. If the person beside you monopolizes it, gently nudge his elbow with yours, smile and say: "I think we can share this."
3. Keep the peace
Some passengers insist on talking continuously to their seatmates. The best solution is to pull out noise-blocking headphones, smile and say, "Excuse me." And if your seatmate is more of an inflight DJ than a fellow traveler, ask him to please turn the music down if it's bothering you. One of the more serious causes of bad behavior on planes is alcohol. If you're seated next to a boozer who's becoming difficult to deal with, find the flight attendant and ask to be moved — preferably before the drunk passes out, head resting on your shoulder.
4. Avoid the bustle
If the passenger behind you grabs the back of your seat to steady himself even when there's no turbulence, turn to the person and, in a polite voice, say: "Excuse me … I don't know if you realize this, but when you grab the back of my seat to stand, it disturbs me. Thanks." If a child seated behind you repeatedly kicks your seat, stand and ask the accompanying adult to please make sure the child does not do this. Remember to smile and say thanks. Finally, if you're seated on the aisle next to someone who gets up continually to use the restroom, switching seats with her will go a long way toward making the flight more comfortable for you both.
5. Deal with bad smells
If you're seated next to a person who removes his shoes (and doesn't change into a clean pair of socks), politely ask him to put his shoes back on, as the odor is bothering you. You can also ask someone who is eating an odiferous snack to wait till she reaches the destination to enjoy it.