An etiquette expert based in Florida is sharing actions that people should never take while traveling on a flight — including wearing pajamas, eating seafood and holding up others in the aisle while loading bags in the overhead bins.
Jackie Vernon Thompson, 53, of Sunrise, Florida, said that traveling on an airplane can be complex when it comes to etiquette because there are unspoken rules to follow — and many people get it wrong.
Yet being in a small, enclosed space with a lot of other people for a period of time makes following the correct protocols critical, as SWNS reported of her comments.
The etiquette expert said people should not be wearing pajamas on a flight even if it's at night (small children are probably the exception) — and people should never eat smelly meals such as seafood around others on a plane.
Also, Vernon Thompson said it's best not to hold up others in the aisle while loading in bags overhead.
Also, hold off on asking someone else to swap seats with you, especially if their seat is better than yours.
Vernon Thompson runs From the Inside-Out School of Etiquette. Her program offers instructional content for adults and children that includes such areas of behavior as effective communication, personal hygiene, business etiquette, body positivity and table etiquette and protocol (both American and European), according to her website.
"There are quite a few etiquette protocols that should be adhered to on a plane because we are confined in a small space," she said, as SWNS noted.
She said blocking the aisle while putting your bag in overhead storage is "an etiquette protocol which is violated constantly."
Instead, the right thing to do is sit in your seat with your bag until the aisle is clear.
Similarly, you should never extend your legs into the aisle to give yourself more legroom, even if the coast is clear at that point.
"Spreading your legs out like that is a non-negotiable no-no," she said. "There are seats with extra legroom you can pay for," she added. So "if you need that, purchase a ticket for extra legroom."
"If you need to stretch your legs, take a walk — but you paid for your seat, not the aisle."
She also said, "If you need to stretch your legs, take a walk — but you paid for your seat, not the aisle."
She also advised never switching seats of your own accord. Rather, always get permission first.
If you're interested in changing seats, she said it's best to ask a flight crew member if a seat closer to your party is free — but to do so once everyone has been seated.
If not, in some circumstances you may ask to switch with someone. However, she said to never change seats if the offered seat is far away from your current seat or is worse than the one you're in currently.
Said Vernon Thompson, as SWNS reported, "You cannot reasonably expect someone in the front of the plane to switch to the rear or in a downgraded area of the plane. [And] in a row, you can't ask them to sit in your center seat when they were in the aisle or window — they must get an equivalent of what they have purchased."
"If you know your feet will have a foul odor, don’t take your shoes off."
Regarding masking in these post-COVID times, she advised that if you cough frequently, even if it's not due to illness, you should wear a mask on board to give others peace of mind.
As for bad smells, she advised against eating seafood while flying. Also, don't eat food with a lot of onions or garlic.
Also, said Vernon Thompson, never remove your shoes or socks if you're prone to smelly feet or haven't showered recently.
She said, "If you know your feet will have a foul odor, don’t take your shoes off. If they're uncomfortable — well, you should have worn more comfortable shoes and controlled your hygiene better," she added.
She also said, "If you do take them off, it's not appropriate to walk anywhere on the plane barefoot or in just socks. Put them back on before leaving your seat."
"If the parent isn't making an effort to calm the child, politely and gratefully ask the parent to calm the little one."
She also advised against wearing overly revealing outfits.
With first class travel, the standards are even higher, she noted, because by paying extra for a seat, there's an understanding and "investment into a certain standard."
The etiquette expert also shared views of children's behavior on flights, which all too often is controversial, she said.
Parents or caregivers should make all reasonable efforts to prevent children from being unsettled while flying, she noted.
This includes feeding them and taking them to the restroom before boarding, and bringing comfort items on board such as a toy or a blanket.
She also said, "Be armed with anything your child or baby uses [for] comfort … For the flight, bring whatever it takes to calm them down."
Travelers should never forget to show patience and courtesy to flight attendants.
She also said about pacifiers for babies, including those infants who are being weaned off pacifiers, "If they're struggling [on the] flight, then the [pacifier] goes into the mouth for the sake of peace."
Vernon Thompson said parents should ensure their children are well-rested the night before to prevent the kids from becoming agitated on board the flight, as SWNS also reported.
But she also said that other passengers who are not related to the children should "try to extend grace" — and remember that children can be disruptive by nature.
She advised trying to stay calm and ignore disruptions; yet if something becomes out of hand, she said asking a flight attendant if there is a vacant seat a distance away would not be unreasonable.
Still, she said to remember that the parents themselves may be frustrated by the situation, so respect that they may be overwhelmed.
"If you aren't able to move [your] seat," she said, "and the parent isn't making an effort to calm the child, politely and gratefully ask the parent to calm the little one."
She added, "Your words and tone mean a great deal in that moment. It may mean a lot to the parent if you offer to hold the child for a bit to help calm them down — if the situation allows, don't be afraid to offer."
She also said that travelers should never forget to show patience and courtesy to flight attendants.
"Be respectful and polite, and thank people if they help you with anything," she said.
She said that in the environment of a plane, many "thank-yous" should be given out.