How to be a better co-passenger when flying

In a world where we are constantly complaining about the poor in-flight experiences that we have, it’s that moment of the day, where we should sit back and reflect, and see if we are being good co-passengers or not. How many times have you cringed when you’ve been seated next to crying babies, or hogged the arm rest and elbowed out your co-passenger? Most of the time, when we decide to be mean or nasty, it’s because we are operating from a space of lack.

Our experiences make us want to be the first person out of the aircraft, even if it means trampling on toes or even standing up to open the overhead bins while the plane is taxing into its bay. It’s like what Kennedy said (I’m taking creative liberties of course) – ask not what the airlines can do for you, but what can you do for a smoother flight.

Be Mindful

If you bring in an odd-sized bag as check-in luggage and expect it to fit in snugly, without inconveniencing your fellow passengers, then it’s totally on you. It’s best to adhere to airline rules and carry the permitted dimensions, as this will help utilize the overhead bins more effectively. Using the under-the-chair area is a good idea; more often than not, I slide my purse under the chair, and find it a better way to keep an eye on it. In fact, accessing my essentials is easier.

Don’t be that person who brings in stinky food. I concur that airline food can taste bad, but stinking up the aircraft with food that smells, is very inconsiderate. Imagine having to spend the next couple of hours of your flight with stinky food smells assaulting your nostrils. The air quality inside the cabin is not the best, and given that the ventilation is poor, the odor can linger for longer. Get your meal, but just don’t make it too aversely aromatic.

Sitting in the middle seat is my worst nightmare, hence I end up pre-booking either the window or the aisle. The reason why I hate the middle is because, typically the other two co-passengers don’t give enough space for you to use the armrest. I once had a co-passenger who tried to get frisky with me, by extending his elbows into my personal space. The flight was a nightmare! As a thumb-rule, I now always pay the extra bucks and buy myself some peace of mind and a pleasant journey.

Sometimes it happens that airlines change aircrafts, for example, I was to fly on an A380 from Singapore to Mumbai, but the airlines decided to use a smaller aircraft, thus making my window seat selection redundant. Since I was not made aware of the change of aircraft, and hence not selecting an aisle seat in time, the counter staff wanted to allot me a middle seat, as all windows and aisles were taken.

I explained my past experience to the staff and the empathetic lady offered me the choice to catch the next flight out – they were overbooked – and offered me some money and hotel stay for the night.

Naturally, I cashed in on her empathy and availed the offer. I may not get lucky every time, but I do feel the sense of redemption for the elbow incident. One other reason to get the aisle seat is if you have a small bladder and need to use the toilet frequently. It can be very annoying for the other passengers to get out of their seat very often. May as well be mindful and do the needful.

Crying babies are going to cry. Period. You fussing and adding to the stress of the parents, is not going to help anyone. Babies cry for many reasons, sometimes it’s because of the air pressure difference between their ears and the cabin, and they don’t realize that popping the ears can help. One of the reasons why airlines serve candy in-flight, is so that the sucking motion can help pop ears and keep the air pressure balance intact.

Being self-aware of how you conduct yourself can help you have a better experience while flying. So look at what energies are you carrying with you, on your next trip.