A definitive guide to the seat label of an airplane

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Perhaps one of the biggest pains of air travel is the part where you have to sit for hours in a narrow, cramped seat.

Over the years, there have been debates about the ethics of reclining the seat, sharing the armrests, and other aspects of the aircraft label. And people are divided when it comes to how to use certain features, or whether you should abstain completely.

So what is the right way to approach these considerations during the flight? Below, five etiquette experts share the general rules and guidelines they follow as air travelers.

Recline the seat

“Whether reclining the seat is a matter of educated conscience,” Jodi RR Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, told HuffPost. “We want to be able to maximize our comfort without disturbing anyone else. That’s a challenge in the ever-shrinking seats that are found on airplanes today.”

He noted that reclining is the norm for red-eye or long-haul flights, where passengers are supposed to at least try to sleep. But for fast trips of less than two hours, it is best to stay upright.

If you want to recline the seat, show common courtesy of the person sitting behind you. Look back and make sure they are not super high and are already narrow. They may also be juggling a baby on their lap or a knee pad. All this would be reasons to refrain from reclining. If you finally decide to do so, at least give a warning.

“It’s polite to warn someone behind you before you tilt your seat,” said Nick Leighton, a label expert and co-host of the podcast “Were You Raised By Wolves?” “I know I’ve almost half-broken my laptop on more than one occasion because of a seat that reclined quickly without warning. And when you recline and get back up, it’s considered slow. It’s It’s easy to take a cup of hot coffee out of a tray with a quick-moving seat. “

You may also consider only partially resting, if possible.

“For those who are lucky enough to be sitting in first class or business class, this is not a problem,” Smith said. “There is plenty of room to recline without affecting the personal space of any other passengers.”

Shared armrests

“Frequently asked questions are, ‘Who has the armrest when sitting in the middle seat?’ Texas Protocol. “The most obvious answer, and the tacit rule of protocol, is that the person sitting in the most uncomfortable seat, the middle, has the armrests on both sides.”

Life etiquette expert Juliet Mitchell, also known as Ms. J, echoed this advice, noting that it was simply the usual courtesy and empathy.

“Let’s be honest, maybe this will never be a win-win situation,” he said. “However, if you’re lucky enough to have a window seat, you can look at the beautiful clouds and control the landing. “Stretch out without disturbing others. The person in the middle seat is stuck in the middle. So give the person in the middle a break and let that person make the decisions with the armrests.”

If you are in a row with only two seats, the armrest between them should be shared, as there is no unwanted center seat in this scenario.

“Now, for a row of four seats, 1–2–3–4, passenger 2 has the armrest between 1 and 2, passenger 3 has the armrest between 3 and 4,” Smith explained. “Armrest between 2 and 3 is shared.”

However, there are exceptions to the armrest rules.

“If you’re a small human being and the person next to you is bending over in a yoga pose to fit the seat, you should share the armrest, even if it’s ‘yours,'” Smith said. , humans are territorial creatures and when a resource is a premium, our thoughts are quickly directed to what we can affirm. But what sets us apart from many animals is our ability to empathize and work together. If you don’t need space, offer to share. ”

Seat change

Try to consider others when it comes to moving seats.

“If the cabin door closes and you are sitting in the middle seat, next to the aisle seat, and no one is claiming the window seat, move to give more space to your seatmate and yourself.” , said Gottsman. “If someone is by your side and not moving, you can say,‘ Looks like we’re lucky enough to have some extra room. Would you like to move and can we use this seat for our magazines and additional laptops? ‘ It’s a subtle way of saying ‘please go ahead’. “

Gottsman also offered tips on what to do if someone asks you to change seats with them.

“If someone asks you to move with him so he can be closer to his family and the seats are the same, grab one for the team and do it,” he said. “If it’s not the same move and you’re stuck in the middle seat, you can say, ‘I’m sorry, I’ll have to say no.’

Be careful how often you sound a seat back.

FatCamera via Getty Images

Be careful how often you sound a seat back.

Deal with the back of the seat

As noted above, there really isn’t much space between the rows of planes these days, so it’s not uncommon to feel movement in the back of the seat. Please note that when you are dealing with the seat back pocket in front of you.

“The seat pockets were designed to hold safety information, airbags and some occasional magazines,” Smith said. “It simply came to our notice then [a] footrest. Please do not try to attach the back of your heel to the opening, as this may cause discomfort in the lower back of the passenger whose back you are pressing now. “

He gave similar advice on the tray table.

“It’s there for drinks, snacks and some casual meals. It wasn’t designed to support your laptop, as a replacement battery or a drawing board. Your tray table is for lightweight items,” Smith said. .

If you need to use the tray for your computer or iPad, consider the amount of movement you create.

“You should not be hitting or hitting your laptop keys [in] any movement, bounce, or touch in progress, “Smith said.” The tray table is attached to the seat in front of you. Each movement of the tray table causes an additional, and usually unwanted, movement of this seat and should be avoided whenever possible. “

On the other hand, try to be polite with the passengers behind you if you have to ask them to alleviate their disturbance.

“Avoid glances and sighs when a child starts crying or accidentally hits the back of the seat,” Gottsman said. “If someone hits you on the back of the seat consistently, you can turn around and ask if you don’t mind being a little more careful, saying something like, ‘I know we’re in tight spaces, unfortunately I can’t move.’ sit down ‘with a smile on your face. They’ll get the message. “

He also urged passengers to talk to the parents, not the child, in these situations.

“With a nice but controlled voice, try to say, ‘I know it must be hard to keep these little legs still for so many hours. Please stay tuned, because I’m trying to work / sleep / meditate / watch a movie and keep distracting myself. Thank you very much, ‘said Gottsman.

Get up during the flight

Naturally, there are times during a flight when passengers have to get up to go to the bathroom or take a break. Be respectful of your neighbors right now.

“You can’t be above someone without their express permission,” Smith said. “Those in the aisle seat should be able to go up and down the aisle so that you can easily access your seat.”

Patricia Rossi, an expert on civility and author of “Everyday Etiquette,” urged passengers to reduce bath time when possible.

“Do your business at the airport,” he said. “This airplane bath isn’t a day spa, so don’t make everyone wait.”

And when you get out of the seat, don’t treat the plane like home – it’s a shared space full of other people.

“When it comes to airplane etiquette, just because you tin “Doing something doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it,” Leighton said. “Walking barefoot is definitely something you tin do on a plane, though it should you? “

General attitude during the flight

“I’ve worked in the airline industry for over 15 years, so I’m no stranger to rude passenger behavior,” Mitchell said. “Since the arrival of COVID-19, rude behavior in general has increased and the airline industry has had to respond to strange behavior to protect the lives of passengers and crew alike.”

To help promote a peaceful and civil environment, he urged air travelers to pay attention to the small ways in which they can show respect for their crew and fellow passengers, either by using a polite tone when speaking or by reducing their intake. of alcohol.

“The planes these days are tight and a little consideration can help a lot to make everyone more comfortable,” Smith said. “Before boarding a plane, with all the inconvenience and indignities, I remember being in a chair, in the sky, and the faster it will be than other modes of transport. A little perspective can change your attitude towards the positive. “.

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