It’s one of the biggest causes of conflict on a flight, and you’ve probably encountered it more than once if you’re a frequent business traveler: Should you recline or not recline your seat?
The topic is a hot button with seasoned travelers, so we thought we might suggest a few ways you can be considerate of others as you contemplate whether or not to push that little button on your armrest.
First, consider the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” In other words, think about how your actions could impact the person directly behind you, and then wonder if you would like the same thing done by the person in front of you. If you’ve ever felt hemmed in, or had your laptop slammed shut, because someone else exercised their “right” to recline, ask yourself, what would you have liked done before they leaned back into your space.
That’s possibly the biggest courtesy in seat reclining: Offer the person behind you the same courtesy you want from the person in front of you.
Of course, that may mean there are times when you shouldn’t exercise your right to recline, like during beverage and meal service. Imagine not being able to eat because you can’t see your tray, or get your drink past the other person’s seat back.
We really love flight crews at Travelpro. Not only are they some of our best customers, but they’ve got some great stories about things they’ve seen, heard, and even smelled over the years. There are certain points of etiquette that we as travelers should respect, especially since they have the power to make our flight very comfortable, or less so.
- The galley is not passenger personal space to use as you see fit for stretching or putting your child in time out. Think of it like the kitchen in the restaurant: it’s off-limits to the general public.
- Self upgrading is not a thing. Although people try to get away with it all the time, the seat you’re assigned is your seat, unless you’ve received an upgrade before you board the plane.
- Touching them is big no-no. Even if they are within reach, invading their personal space by tugging on their uniform or touching them on the arm or leg in order to get their attention is not polite. The worst infraction of this type? Tapping them with trash. That can be insulting to some.
Some people view travel as a solitary experience. They don’t make eye contact while going through security or on the way to their terminal. They’re sure to try to find a seat in the gate area with an empty one beside it, and they queue up without comment when it’s time to board.
Seeing ourselves as solitary sojourners whose actions don’t impact anyone else ends when we are seated two or three to a row in coach with hours of forced “togetherness” ahead. This situation can create some unique etiquette issues you may not have thought of before.
“There’s a blurred line between what’s acceptable and what’s irritating,” says Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and owner of the Protocol School of Texas. A Chicago Tribune article on travel etiquette gives us a few things to think about the next time we fly. Here are a few issues often caused by close proximity while flying.
Example #1: The in-flight reading light. Is it inconsiderate to use said light on an overnight flight if you’re a reader or someone who likes to use the time to work instead of sleep? Solution: Ask before you turn it on, or use a small book light to read. Conversely, use a sleep mask to block out unwanted light.
Many travelers are surprised when they’re greeted in English while traveling abroad. One of our colleagues used to get frustrated whenever he would travel to Germany and the Netherlands, and then be greeted in English. His goal was to pass as a local, so it would bothered him that people could tell immediately.
If you’ve ever wondered, “How did they know?” and wanted to blend in a bit, here are a few tips from veteran travelers. Taking the time to educate yourself before leaving home will allow you to navigate your new city or country with the finesse of a local.
First, learn a few key phrases, such as “please” and “excuse me.” Even if you don’t manage the correct pronunciation, natives are impressed by the effort and courage. One of those small social exchanges may lead to a beautiful connection.
When given the opportunity to vent a little travel rage without getting arrested, 1,000 travelers took the opportunity to air their top grievances in Expedia’s annual Airplane Etiquette Survey.
The number one pet peeve of most travelers? The person who repeatedly kicks the back of their seat received 61 percent of the votes. The complaint ranged from children’s repeated thumps with their shoes to the constant pressure of the knees in the back of the seat from the long-legged passenger behind them.
While we still don’t have jetpacks, or personal hovercraft to take us to work, we are seeing more robots that assist travelers with mundane, easily automated tasks.
After reading about them in a Yahoo Travel article, these robots sound like they will add a lot of comfort and convenience to the weary traveler.
Another exciting robot is located at the award-winning Indianapolis airport. This robot is located atop a Segway and gives travelers directions around the airport. It’s like the virtual presence device Sheldon created on Big Bang Theory when he met Steve Wozniak.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport has included some robots on the payroll as well. These robots sort baggage and load it onto carts.
Royal Caribbean’s new ship, Quantum of the Seas has an even more exciting robot. It actually makes drinks! Travelers input drink orders into a tablet and the robot cranks them out for you.
And finally, Starwood’s Aloft hotel in Cupertino, California, has put a robot to work delivering room service. The main benefit here is that you don’t have to worry about looking respectable when your room service arrives. We’re not sure about the etiquette of robot tipping, however.
We do wonder how far away we are from fully automatic baggage checks. It seems like it would be a pretty great use of this type of technology and it sounds like some places are already halfway there.
We noticed that the bottom of the article contained a survey for readers to indicate how comfortable they are with the new robot technology that is beginning to surround us. Over half of those answering said they are excited about the technology with a much smaller percentage of people worried about robots taking jobs and/or destroying humanity.
How do you feel about robots in the travel business? Visit our Facebook page and leave a comment, or just leave one below. Let us hear from you.
- Savioke’s Robot Butler Brings You Room Service (spectrum.ieee.org)
Things are going to go wrong when you travel. Maybe not this time, but soon. Something will happen, and you — understandably — won’t be happy. It could be lost luggage or bad weather causing major flight delays. An article from Peter Greenberg this past spring discusses how to get results when something goes wrong during a trip. Getting positive results boils down to having manners and being polite toward other passengers and the airline staff.
There are five things we should or should not do when dealing with travel problems.
1. Don’t call customer service
Customer service is there to deal with complaints, but they may not have the power to say “yes.” They can easily say “no,” however. Peter suggests going to someone who has the ability to say yes, so avoid calling the customer service line. Also, if you’re having problems with your current flight, skip the desk at your gate. Go to an empty gate for your airline and ask them for help. They’re plugged into the same system as your own gate.
2. Do address the problem right when it happens
Waiting until you get home or arrive at your destination will put extra distance between yourself, the problem, and those who can help fix it. It may mean staying in the airport, or hanging around the hotel a little longer. Keep your travel time a little padded for emergencies anyway.
3. Keep all documents, names, and receipts
If you’ve ever tried to return a purchased item without a receipt, you know how tough that can be. Without proof, they won’t budge. Keeping all information related to the incident will allow for those trying to help you to do so in a more efficient manner. If you have this information readily available, they’re more able (and likely) to help you.
4. Use your credit card
This is important enough that it’s worth doing every day. Not only do you get travel points (if you have one of those kinds of cards), but thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act, you can also dispute an unknown or unwanted charge to that card. For example, if you did not order room service in your hotel, you can dispute it, as long as you paid for the room with your credit card.
5. Have an alternative to suggest
One suggestion we came up with after reading Greenberg’s article is to have an alternative when addressing a problem. For example, if a flight is delayed due to bad weather, ask the gate agent if an alternate route is available, and suggest a few possibilities yourself. That will make their job easier, because they will not have to spend extra time researching alternatives.
While you’re not going to have major problems on every trip you take, it helps to be prepared, and to be polite and have a positive attitude when dealing with others. You’ll get more done, and you’re more likely to get the desired outcome.
Photo credit: Travel Collector (Flickr, Creative Commons)
As airlines keep raising and creating fees, people are always going to look for ways to avoid paying them. Luggage fees are no different. No one wants to spend an extra $50 just to to check one suitcase, so everyone is bringing on carry-on’s, which are creating further problems and serious breaches in good manners.
As passengers, we need to have some etiquette about our luggage, like not whacking people in the noggin with it, or not cramming both your bags in the overhead bin. This prevents other people from getting their bag into the bin, which means they’ll have to gate check them, which means they’ll have to get them at baggage claim. It also means the boarding process is slowed down, which means we all reach our destination much more slowly.
Pack lightly. If your rollaboard is completely full for a 4 day trip, you may have too much stuff. Imagine having to pay for your luggage by the pound. Now what could you get rid of? What is it you don’t actually need? Once you figure that out, you may be down to a reasonable amount.
Of course, you could always ship your belongings, possibly for much less than you’re going to pay in baggage fees. You can even ship your suitcase itself in a box. Ask your local Fedex or UPS store for help.
Finally, arrive early, and maybe consider buying a seat upgrade. For the cost of a checked bag, you may be able to upgrade for the same amount, and ride in much more comfort than your original seat. Not only that, you can get on board early and find a place for your luggage. So weigh your options: fly for less — in less comfort — and check/gate check your bag, or fly in more comfort and have your bag on board with you.
Passengers aren’t the only ones who should have to display some patience and manners. We hope the airlines can encourage this etiquette as well. Make sure people are only putting one bag in the overhead bin. Adopt a seating system where the people who sit near the back can get on first (and then make sure they’re not putting their bag up front). And would it be too much to ask that the overhead bins actually be large enough to hold everyone’s bags?
We hate to admit it, but it’s no secret that we Americans have a reputation for being, well, a little embarrassing abroad. While this is only as true as other stereotypes you encounter (i.e. not much), it’s still a stigma that should make American travelers a little more aware of their behavior when visiting other countries.
No matter where you’re from or what country you visit, it’s always a good idea to keep your manners in check when traveling abroad. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of six sure-fire ways to embarrass yourself abroad.
1. Not being able to say ‘thank you’
While you probably don’t have the time to become fluent in Italian before visiting Italy, you should at least know enough to be polite. Before you travel, take some time to learn the obvious phrases. After all, if someone came up to you on a street in America saying, “Dov’è il bagno?” (where’s the bathroom?), you’d have no idea what they meant, and keep walking.
2. Wearing sweatpants
In America, we love to wear sweatpants, yoga pants and hoodies when running errands. If you do so in many other countries, be prepared to stick out like a sore thumb. When visiting another country, it’s a good idea to put your best foot forward – and make sure that foot isn’t wearing flip flops.
No matter where you go, you’re going to find plenty of things that are very different than America. While you may instinctively want to comment on the differences, don’t. When in doubt, act as if you’re in someone else’s home. Some things may seem a little strange, but it would be rude to mention it, right?
4. Getting impatient
We Americans have a need for speed. However, many countries move at a slower pace and enjoying a relaxing meal at a restaurant is the norm. If your waiter is moving a bit slower than you’d like, don’t get frustrated — use it as an opportunity to r-e-l-a-x.
5. Not eating the local fare
We recently heard about a young woman who spent two weeks in Europe and only ate pizza or hamburgers everywhere she went. Don’t turn your nose up at the local cuisine or ask a restaurant if they can ‘Americanize’ a dish. Take a risk and order something new – you just may like it. And if you don’t, refer to #3.
6. Being ignorant to local etiquette
Did you know that in Hawaii, it’s rude to surf at the locals’ beach, and in Bali, it’s impolite to visit a temple without a ‘blessing’ such as a basket of flower petals? Before you travel, always do your research. With so much information at our fingertips online, you have no excuse not to.
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have anything that you’d add to this list? Tell us in the comments section below, or post your comment on our Facebook page.
- Tips for traveling abroad – how to blend in. (cengagebrain.com)
- 5 Tips That Will Make Your Study Abroad Experience Unforgettable (thoughtcatalog.com)
- 20 Things I’ve Learned Abroad: (melstarm.wordpress.com)
Members of the TravelPro team are in airports an awful lot, and we’ve seen some things we’d rather not. We’re talking adults acting like children, throwing tantrums, pushing, shoving and generally challenging the dictionary definition of polite as they make their way from one airport to another.
There’s an awful lot of frustration and annoyance when people travel, but we’re all feeling it. And there’s a good chance impolite passengers won’t get tossed off a flight just for being rude or inconsiderate, so all we can do is police ourselves when we travel.
A post on the Economist’s “Gulliver” blog celebrated Miss Manners tackling airplane etiquette, and there were some great tips in there, including some that may seem like common sense, but we were all raised with different expectations.
Here are some of our favorite tips:
- When you’re waiting for your flight to board, only get out of your seat and into the boarding area when your zone number is called. It creates more room for a smooth, seamless boarding process with fewer delays.
- Overhead bins should really be reserved for rollaboard bags. If you don’t want to hang on to your jacket or other smaller items, wait until all the larger bags have been stowed snugly in the bins, then place your items in around them just before the airplane doors close.
- Keep your conversations at a low volume, but don’t give parents too much grief when their baby or young child makes a ruckus. They’ve got a tough job, and there’s a good chance you’ve got noise-canceling headphones or earplugs on hand. (If not, treat yourself to an adult beverage.)
- Lean against the window or your flying companion if you’re going to nap on the flight. If you have neither of those things, lean forward into your tray table unless you know you can keep your head upright and not wind up in your neighbor’s lap.
- Flight attendants have one of the most challenging jobs out there. Consider being sweet to them, looking them in the eye to thank them for your drink and bag of peanuts, or maybe even paying them a genuine compliment — you might just make their day.