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Airplane etiquette


As I have most recently observed on my recent flights to New Zealand for linux.conf.au, it seems that many of my fellow travelers are unaware of this simple rule:

When standing up from your seat, do not use the back of the seat in front of you as a handhold unless this is a physical necessity for you. This is very disturbing to the person sitting there, who may be trying to sleep. Instead, bring your own seat forward and use the armrests.

Yes, I’m talking to you, 61J.

That is all.

Love, Matt


Written by Matt Zimmerman

January 16, 2010 at 20:49

Posted in Uncategorized

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15 Responses

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  1. Ditto for buses and trains too!


    January 17, 2010 at 08:55

  2. There would be so much to say about airplane etiquette:
    – when bending your seat back to better rest, do it gently and softly, so that the person sitting back to you can save her laptop’s screen
    – talk gently with your co-travellers (yes, I mean you, Spanish yellers that made my trip back from ARG a nightmare last year)
    – STFU that horrible rap music you’re listening to in your damn iPod
    – yes, the reading light can be oriented and no, this is not meant to orient your light to my face
    – a special mention to fat US travellers in our trip from Kansas City to Oakland, 7 years ago: do a favor to that french family that boards in a nearly filled plane and avoid them to seat their young kids in the middle seats everywhere in the plane when the said kids don’t speak a damn word of English and, no, when you travel with a fellow friend, it’s not acceptable policy to sit in opposite seats and talk together over the head of the person sitting between you. Even more if you’re talking about golf

    So, apparently, I should travel on planes only with clones of myself…and Matt, of course

    Christian Perrier

    January 17, 2010 at 11:27

  3. Wow, I appreciate that this might be annoying/rude so fair play for pointing it out, but you should try travelling on buses in the UK. Forget people playing their iPods too loud, how about half a dozen people all playing music out of their phones in battle? In my experience if you don’t get spat on you’re lucky.

    Not that this makes leaning on other peoples seats acceptable of course, I just wanted to point out that other forms of public transport are unacceptably foul places to be. It angers me that the Government are always pushing it yet anyhwere outside of London it is embarrassingly and shamefully poor.

    UK transport = fail.


    January 17, 2010 at 13:49

    • I routinely ride city buses in London and find it’s usually fine (except when the buses are very full). I guess it depends on where you are and where you’re going. I certainly don’t try to sleep on them in any case. :-)

      Being stuck on a plane with the same people for over 12 hours demands that we treat each other a bit more respectfully I think. I certainly don’t endorse rowdiness on buses, but at least it’s a short trip.

      Matt Zimmerman

      January 18, 2010 at 03:02

  4. COnsidering how noisy buses are, especially sitting near the rear end where the engine is, you need something to listen to and while away the hours, and block out the chavs comparing their mobile phones, the old biddies talking about their ailments, the wailing baby at the front and the unruly kiddies with their oblivious, trailer-trash parents.


    January 17, 2010 at 15:34

  5. I never did like 61J.

    Mike Basinger

    January 17, 2010 at 16:10

  6. Lets not forget the person with the weak bladder (or a relative elsewhere on the plane) that must get up/get back to their seat dozens of times during the flight, yet insists on a window seat.

    As for the ipod comment, most of the annoyances on London busses are kids with cellphones, with music on speakerphone allowing all of us mere mortals to enjoy their rather odd and poor taste in music.

    Mark Coleman

    January 17, 2010 at 18:38

  7. This would be why we need an ubuntu airline, so we can apply the code of conduct to all passengers!


    January 17, 2010 at 20:25

    • Haahaa!!!! Good one Gord! +1 to this one!


      January 18, 2010 at 06:20

  8. When the seat in front is reclined (because the occupant is sleeping, for instance) there is no way I can get up without using it for support. Sorry, wish I could but I can’t. It hangs too far back.

    “Lets not forget the person with the weak bladder (or a relative elsewhere on the plane) that must get up/get back to their seat dozens of times during the flight, yet insists on a window seat.”

    I always ask for an aisle seat as I tend to run to the bathroom quite a lot. But you don’t always get what you ask for, especially with full planes. And while you may find it annoying to have me go back and forth it is surely less annoying than if I simply wet myself all over my seat and your shoes.


    January 18, 2010 at 02:41

    • I realize it isn’t possible for everyone (hence my qualification in the original post).

      Naturally, if someone has no choice but to disturb their neighbour in order to pass, it’s appropriate to apologize for the intrusion (just as you would if you had to wake someone to pass through to the aisle).

      It seems to me that a lot of folks simply forget that there is a person attached to the seat in front of them: it isn’t just furniture.

      Matt Zimmerman

      January 18, 2010 at 03:05

  9. With regard to the kids playing music out of there phones, I’d rather they use a quality boombox stereo than use a phone. Its the tinny sound that I cant stand more than the music.

    Its still rude though either way.


    January 18, 2010 at 14:20

  10. In fact, I used the train to go to the NEC on Saturday and it took about twice as long as it should have to get back. Hey-ho.


    January 18, 2010 at 14:22

  11. Love Ryanair…. No business class and no seats assigned at checkin.

    So even without priority and getting on the plane last I get the 1B seat. There is no wall so you get the whole-entrance-exit-door leg room and noone thinks to sit there. And even if you get all three people sitting there all of you have room to just stand up.

    Love it.


    January 18, 2010 at 14:58

  12. You all should traveling in India to learn new stuffs ;)

    Kartik Mistry

    January 19, 2010 at 11:48

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