Jetiquette: inflight protocol

Jetiquette goes a long way towards making travel a more enjoyable, civilized, and tranquil experience for everyone.

Our approach is to focus on the behavior and characteristics of the most civilized travelers who’ve made flying with jetiquette a way of life.

Those who travel with jetiquette always consider how their actions may be affecting those around them and they do their best fly by the golden rule.

Note: This guide is always being revised, so please share your suggested additions and revisions using the form located at the bottom of the page.

Personal Electronic Devices

  • Conversations should always be kept at normal volume, as if speaking directly into the listener’s ear — which is literally what a phone call is — and often necessitates stepping to a less populated public area should the conversation become louder or more intense.

  • Earphones are always used by courteous travelers in order to avoid disturbing those around them and to keep their choice of personal entertainment private. Should one wish to share a device with a seat mate, a splitter may be used to allow two sets of earphone to be used.

  • You’ll never hear the cell phone of a truly civilized traveler more than once. They always turn them to silent and are often horrified if they’ve allowed their phone to disturb those around them.

Carry On Luggage

Carry on bags are never a problem for those who travel with jetiquette. Bags brought on board the aircraft should always be of appropriate size to allow for easy fit into overhead compartments and under-seat stowage. Bulkier bags? Well, that’s what checked baggage was created for and makes trips requiring larger luggage go infinitely smoother.

Here are some baggage rules in which refined travelers, who are well versed in jetiquette, live and fly by.

The well-traveled always —

- travel light when wishing to only carry-on. Bags that are truly carry-on-size and slide easily into approved stowage locations are ones meant to be carried into the cabin.

- make sure they only use their fair share of overhead space, as close to their seat as possible, to avoid inconveniencing others.

- purchase tickets that offer free checked baggage

- check larger bags at the counter to avoid personal stress and/or causing disruptions during boarding which could affect other travelers.

- use only the under-seat stowage located directly in front of one’s seat unless the adjacent seat remains empty.


Personal Space

As airlines have increased the number of seats on aircraft and reduced the amount of personal space provided to passengers, it’s made it even more challenging to remain comfortable while not encroaching on the space of others. A simple apology or “excuse me” is always a great way to ease any inflight anxiety that may develop on a typical flight.

  • An armrest is highly sought-after real estate, especially in the economy cabin. Making sure that one’s elbow remains on their side of the armrest is well-appreciated jetiquette.

  • Reclining one’s seat is best done outside of mealtimes and after checking behind for computer screens or knees which may be in the path of a reclining seat-back.

airport fashion

In-flight attire

The suggested dress code when traveling by air is ‘smart casual’. One of the most common complaints of airline passengers is that flying is not what it used to be. One of the things that used to be common on flights was well-dress passengers. Of course it’s not practical to dress formally for flights but wearing cut-offs or yoga-pants takes it to the other extreme.

  • Footwear should always be worn at all times on the airplane with some specific exceptions:

    • When on long-haul flights — civilized travelers always wear footwear of some type even if changed inflight to something soft and foldable that will not soak up moisture from carpets or lavatory floors.

    • One’s feet should stay below the lower seat-cushion of the seat row and should never make contact with another passenger or be placed between seat-backs of the forward row.

    • In lie-flat seats or suites, it’s considered proper jetiquette to wear socks, such as those provided by airlines in amenity kits, but shoes should always be worn in the aisle and lavatory for protection.

    • Civilized travelers do not fly barefoot.

  • Clothing should be tasteful, not only to maintain one’s personal comfort but as a way to contribute positively to everyone’s overall experience.

    • Tee shirts can definitely be a tasteful and fashionable part of a travel wardrobe. Of course, hateful or obscene t-shirts are on the no-fly list and could cut the journey short for anyone who attempts to wearing them on a flight.

    • Overly revealing or other inappropriate clothing will not only make the wearer less comfortable during the flight, it also changes how they’re perceived by others onboard.

Window shade open for entire flight


  • Grab an armrest: Considerate travelers do their best not to pull on the seats in front of them as they enter or exit the row. Armrest offer great support as one safely moves out into the aisle.

  • Throw some shade: On longer daytime flights, when the majority of the cabin has lowered their window shades, thoughtful flyers often lower their shades as well — usually after takeoff once the aircraft is above the clouds. They then raise them every now and then during the flight and again upon descent and landing.

    Responses were mixed from our post on The Jet Set’s Facebook page. Some travelers insist that it’s is the choice of the person sitting next to the window, which is true. Whether or not it’s polite or not is another matter.

  • Keep it clean: Tasteful travelers also keep their seating area neat and tidy during the flight and they don’t leave litter behind at the end of a flight. Tucking wrappers, napkins and other refuse into a cup or other bag and discarding it when flight attendants are collecting is a great way to make the area more livable for everyone.

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