The Unspoken Rules of Air Travel (you’re probably breaking)

Shoes on or off? Full recline or no recline? Skipping the security line? What about standing at the gate before your boarding zone is called? These are all questions we’ve asked ourselves when flying and likely have strong opinions about yet aren’t quite sure what is considered socially acceptable versus outright rude. 

airplane cabin

With the busy travel season ahead of us, KAYAK, the world’s leading travel search engine, has conducted an extensive search across the Internet, leaving no digital stone unturned to uncover how travelers truly feel about travel etiquette

The Unspoken Rules of Air Travel address a wide array of topics, ranging from whether it’s OK to put your feet on the chair in front of you (which 68% agree it’s not) to the food you should never bring on a flight (spoiler alert: one of them are hard boiled eggs). Let this be your travel moral compass (which apparently we all need): Simply scroll through the rules on your own or share them with someone who needs them.

  1. Sit back and Relax. 88% of people say it’s OK to recline your seat. But timing is important to some with 1 in 3 saying it’s only okay to recline your seat on a long or overnight flight.
  2. Arm rests are up for grabs. 57% say the middle seat is not entitled to both arm rests
  3. Socks stay ON. 76% say you’re NOT allowed to take your socks off.
  4. Stinky foods stay at home. 92% of people agree that you should not bring any food with strong smells on a plane. That includes the biggest offenders: tinned fish (89%), hard boiled eggs (74%) and a rack of ribs (84%).
  5. Keep your feet on the floor. 68% say you are NOT allowed to put your feet up against the back of the seat in front of you.
  6. Noise control. 70% say you are not allowed to watch something without headphones. And, headphones on is the equivalent to do not disturb according to 94% of people.
  7. Sleeping is not a valid excuse… for just about anything. Leaning on a stranger’s shoulder (77%), snoring loudly (66%) and refusing to wake up to let the passenger next to you get up (66%) are not welcome.
  8. Hold the phone…call. 69% agree you are NOT allowed to call someone before you get off the plane.
  9. Nail care is a no-no. 92% say you are NOT allowed to clip or paint your nails at your seat. Filing your nails is also a no no, according to 81% of people.
  10. Storage wars (overhead bin edition). 73% say you are allowed to store small items or jackets in the overhead bin
  11. Shoes ON during flights. 56% of North Americans agree your shoes should stay on during a flight. But, the fact that this was SO close (56% vs 44%) is a bit disturbing. Furthermore 1 in 5 people believe it’s OK to use the restroom without shoes on
  12. No Babies on Board. 1 in 4 people (26%) say it’s NOT okay to bring a baby on a flight… ever.
  13. Who called the fun police? 58% say you are not allowed to laugh loudly at a movie when on a plane.
  14. Long Hair, Don’t Care. Over 1 in 4 people (26%) say it’s OK to hang your hair over the headrest/onto the front of the seat behind you. that means 3 in 4 people (74%) say it’s NOT OK!
  15. It’s NOT Crunch time. 55% of people say no to eating crunchy food on a plane.
Also read: 10 mistakes first time cruisers make and how to avoid them

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