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Travel Etiquette & Airport Manners

Travel Etiquette & Airport Manners

Do you want to travel like a pro? If so, you may need a refresher on travel etiquette – the written and unwritten rules of traveling.

Whether it’s your first flight or your 4oth, you’ll get instant travel street cred when you know how to do things properly.

Travel etiquette is designed to make you and your fellow travelers more comfortable – and your trip more pleasant.

Here’s a short guide to modern travel manners.

In the Airport

1. DO choose what you wear on the plane for comfort, style — and how quickly it will get you through the security line. Wear shoes that slip on and off easily – not lace up boots! If you don’t need a belt, don’t wear one – you’ll have to take it off for TSA. Empty your pockets before you go and stash items in your carry-on instead. Plan ahead to make your departure less stressful. (For more tips on planning your travel outfit, click here.)

Plan Ahead - That's the First Rule of Travel Etiquette
Plan Ahead – That’s the First Rule of Travel Etiquette

2. The line for security is definitely one of the hassles of travel. DO start preparing for the TSA inspection before you get to the conveyor belt. Take off your shoes and coat as you’re moving through the line. If you have glasses on your head, put then in your bag or in the plastic bin. Get rid of liquids. Keep moving – make sure your bags and trays are moving along the belt as you move toward the scanner.

Here's How NOT to Slow Down the Airport Security Line
Find Out How NOT to Slow Down the Airport Security Line

3. If you’re traveling with a lap-top, DO pack it in a way that makes getting it in and out of your bag easy. DON’T slow down the security line – and your own trip – by fussing with lots of packing and unpacking. I can almost get my computer in and out of my bag without coming to a complete stop. The goal should be to comply with all requirements while keeping the line moving at a steady pace.

If you can, invest in a TSA-friendly laptop bag like this messenger bag from my Amazon affiliate site. I like the cross-body feature, as it keeps your hands free for passport, tickets, your rolling luggage and change from the coffee shop.

4. When using escalators at the airport, DON’T stop at the top or bottom! Remember there are people behind you! If you need to check for directions, etc., DO move away from the escalator before you do it. The same rule applies when walking in a crowd — don’t suddenly stop to check your ticket. Move to one side and merge, just as you would on a busy highway.

Keep Moving & Merge With Traffic
Keep Moving & Merge With Traffic

5. DO go to your gate before you stop to buy snacks or magazines. Sometimes the gate numbering systems are not what they seem. Sometimes getting to your gate takes a lot longer than expected. DON’T miss a flight or lose your seat because you thought you were close, when you really weren’t! (Yes, it has happened to me and I learned my lesson.)

On the Plane

6. If your carry-on is a backpack, DO (please, please, please) remove it before you get on the plane! Carry it carefully in front of you, low to the ground. Why? For aisle-sitters, there’s nothing worse than getting a surprise head slam from a fellow traveler’s backpack when he turns to check the seat numbers or talk to his friend.

Be Considerate of Your Fellow Passengers
Be Considerate of Your Fellow Passengers

7. DO put your carry-on bag in the overhead bin wheels first. Not only will it save your flight attendant from having to reposition it later, it creates room for other traveler’s bags and makes it easier for you to remove it later.

8. Once you’re in flight, and you decide to move about the cabin, be considerate of those around you. DON’T grab the back of the seat in front of you with overt force. DON’T slam your tray table up. Remember that that seat and tray is someone else’s home for the next few hours – so try to respect it. And while it may not seem that this needs to be said – – DON’T use the head of the person in front of you for leverage as you move into or out of your seat! (Yikes! It has happened to me. That’s the only reason I mention it.)

Be Pleasant - And Mindful - On Your Plane Trip
Be Pleasant – And Mindful – On Your Plane Trip

9. Be pleasant, but DON’T start telling your life’s story to the person sitting next to you before you’re sure he or she actually wants to talk. Signs that he may prefer a quiet flight? He’s opened a book, magazine or laptop. Her eyes are closed. Etc., etc. Seriously – I’m amazed by how many people don’t get this!

Travel Conveniences

10. DO get yourself a travel scale. This convenient little gizmo can actually save you from missing a flight or paying $125 or more for too-heavy luggage. Check with your airline for size and weight limits. Then just hang your bag from the scale and get it’s exact weight.

I’ve seen people frantically trying to move things from one suitcase to another in the flight check-in line. There is no need for this. It’s unprofessional and unseemly. Nobody wants to watch you re-pack your undies. And if you’re planning on buying lots of souvenirs, pack the scale so you can use it on the flight back, too.

11. DO invest in luggage with “all-wheel-drive”. In other words, get the suitcase and/or carry-on that can roll in any direction, not just forward and backward. This makes all the difference. You can find inexpensive versions of the multi-direction roller bags at discounts stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, etc.

The main thing to remember is this; have fun on your trip – but be serious while you’re getting on and off the plane.

Enjoy Your Flight! (And Thanks for Choosing Rover...)
Enjoy Your Flight! (And Thanks for Choosing Rover…)

The Basics? Be aware of your surroundings and considerate of your fellow passengers.


(And thank you.)


Please note that this post contains affiliate links to products that I use and recommend. If you purchase these items I make a small commission – so thanks for helping me support my travel habit. And I never recommend products I haven’t used and approved.

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