The most important plane etiquette rules. How to behave on a plane. Avoid any embarrassments. Be a pleasant passenger.

What plane etiquette is

Plane etiquette is the set of rules to properly ride on a train. It includes how to board, sit, and the appropriate behaviors.

General plane etiquette principles

Most plane etiquette rules apply to any flight. However, circumstances may vary. 

Apply extra kindness on flights that can bring additional stress. 

  • Long flights. 
  • Low-cost carriers. Cheaper flights often offer lower comfort standards.  
  • Fully booked flight. 

Similarly, remember that plane etiquette may vary based on the country and the persons traveling on your plane.

Plane etiquette.

How to board, seat, and leave a plane. Etiquette principles to interact with other passengers on a plane.

Plane etiquette rules

1) Etiquette to board a plane 

First, respect the line. Do not try to get ahead of other passengers.

Check your seat number. If your seat is 19 or higher, you should board from the back of the plane. 

Be patient with other travelers. Wait for them to manage their belongings and to take their seat. Do not pressure them. Avoid even non-verbal pressure, such as pressing on. 

If someone has taken your seat, check your seat number again. If your seat number is correct, ask the person to please vacate the seat. 

It is not polite to ask another passenger to switch seats. If someone asks you to switch seats, you should accept if switching seats is not inconvenient. Otherwise, answer that you are sorry, but you prefer to keep your seat. 

2) How to manage your belongings on a plane

Place your belongings: 

  • Under the seat in front of you, or 
  • On the overhead bin above your seat. 

Do not place any belongings in bins above other seats. 

Similarly, do not keep your things where they can annoy other passengers. 

3) Plane seating etiquette

Respect the personal space of the other passengers.

Do not recline your seat more than halfway. If the passenger in front of you reclines the seat excessively, politely ask to put the seat back a bit. 

Leave the armrest to the middle passenger. Nobody likes to sit in the middle, but someone has to. The least we can do is to make the journey a bit less miserable for the middle passenger. 

4) How to dress on a plane

Dress normally on flights that last up to 3 hours. On flights longer than 3 hours, it is ok to wear more comfortable clothes, such as sweatpants.

Similarly, do not take your shoes off on flights shorter than 3 hours. On longer flights, it is perfectly acceptable. Make sure your socks and foot hygiene are impeccable. 

Do not walk on the plane without shoes. Put your shoes back on when you leave your seat. Especially, never go to the restroom without shoes.

5) Respect others & their personal space

Do not occupy another passenger’s personal space. Keep your arms, legs, and belongings in the space delimited by your seat.

Avoid bringing smelly or greasy food on board. Avoid alcoholic drinks, or at least limit them. If you spill food or a drink, clean after yourself.

Limit noise. If you talk to someone, speak at a low volume. Listen to music or watch videos strictly with your headphones on. 

Be mindful of the content you watch. Do not watch videos that may disturb other passengers.

Smoking or vaping is usually forbidden. Even when it is allowed, try to refrain from smoking or vaping. It may still annoy other passengers.

Avoid occupying the restroom for a long time. Flush, twice if necessary. Wipe the water sink before leaving. 

Do not escalate conflicts. If a conflict with another passenger arises, stop. Speak with a flight attendant instead.  

Respect the plane personnel. Greet them when you board or leave the plane. Be polite when you ask them for anything. Pay attention when they speak. Including the safety demonstration before take-off.

6) Plane etiquette for kids

Make sure that your kids follow plane etiquette. It is never too early to educate our kids to respect others.

Keep your kids under control. If they leave their seat, go with them. Do not let your kids roam the plane unattended. 

Avoid toys or devices that are noisy or that can annoy other passengers.

7) Plane etiquette for pets

Ask your airline about their plane etiquette for pets. Strictly follow their rules. If you disagree with any of their rules, change airlines.

8) Etiquette to leave a plane

After landing, start to gather your belongings. Pick up any trash. Do not leave anything behind.

Stand up only when the crew allows you to do so.  

Gather your belongings from the overhead bins as fast as possible. Then, proceed to the exit. Let other passengers before you leave their seats. If someone is struggling with their luggage, offer to help. 

Do not stop in the walkway. Otherwise, you risk blocking the other passengers. 

plane etiquette mistakes

Plane etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst plane etiquette mistakes. 

  • 9/10. Not respecting personal space.
  • 9/10. Reclining your seat more than halfway.
  • 8/10. Speaking loudly.
  • 8/10. Watching videos without the headphones on.
  • 5/10. Asking somebody to switch seats.
  • 4/10. Pushing or pressuring others.


  • Development and Evaluation of the Air Travel Stress Scale: