Airline Etiquette

With global air travel becoming steadily more frequent, EXEC tells you how to bring a touch of class back to the cabin.

We hate budget carriers. They may serve a tremendous purpose, but the poet within us all cries out against how these low-cost airlines have killed the romance of air travel. Catching a flight used to be about impeccable attire, a relaxed pre-flight drink, smiles, conversation and a casual stroll to the boarding gate. Today, $200 tickets have let in a slew of boors that haven’t a clue about how to take to the skies with a little grace and courtesy. 

So for those who live in ignorance of the unspoken rules of the air, here’s a few guidelines to swear by when it comes to cutting an urbane figure at the terminal and beyond.

What Maketh A Man

Back in the day when air travel was a relative luxury, travellers would dress to the nines in preparation for a flight. Today, flying anywhere means your light wool jacket will be going shoulder to shoulder with Hawaiian prints, $5 t-shirts and sometimes, hairy, bare skin.

We suggest you dress like a contemporary gentleman with a lightweight suit or at least a pair of clean, well-fitted jeans and a button down. Accessorize tastefully and without unnecessary ostentation – leave that fat, shiny cowboy belt buckle at home and opt for a little less chrome near your crotch.

Sure, airlines pack us in like sardines but that doesn’t mean we have to smell like them too. Take a shower before you leave for the airport. Few experiences are as uncomfortable as having to share a plane ride with constant whiffs of body odour.

If you intend to sleep on the plane, you might not want to pay a great deal of attention to your hair before you board. Chances are you’ll wake up with a messy thatch instead of a pristine coiffure.

And if you have a meeting right after you land, we don’t need to tell you to shave. Or do we?

Executive Etiquette

On a flight, the seat and everything attached to it is sacrosanct. So, when rising, try not to haul your ass up by grabbing the back of the chair in front of you. Instead, attempt the following manoeuvre: 

Place your palms face down on your armrests. Apply downward pressure and you will find yourself gently rising from your seat. It takes a few tries to readily adopt, but with practice and perseverance even the most resolutely discourteous can master this tricky, tricky skill.

Subjecting the corner of your eye to an incessant stream of sunlight might be your idea of Valhalla, but for most it isn’t the most fun way to spend a flight. Pull the window blind down if the person in the aisle seat is trying to get some shut-eye or attempting to work.

As comfortable as you may feel in a plane, try to restrict yourself to your seat. Unless you have a medical condition that requires you to do so, strolling and hanging around the aisle is not recommended.

If you’re a regular traveller and find that your co-passengers are behaving inappropriately or causing a disturbance, don’t play the Lone Ranger. Instead, notify the flight crew and allow them to resolve the situation – they’re paid to handle these things professionally.   

Security Shortcuts

Prep for security by getting your laptop, keys and any metal objects out, before being asked to. Similarly, take off your shoes before a request comes through, and when wearing lace-ups, pick them up and walk to the a nearby chair to back put them on instead of bending over and blocking the threshold.

Slip-ons, not lace-ups. Loafers, not Oxfords.  Why? Because they’re faster to get out of and into during a security check and consequently, are less likely to hold up the line of not-so-patient travellers behind you. 

Paying attention to these little details will make the entire security check smoother and faster for everyone involved.

A Peek Inside The Bag

A 2-day trip usually doesn’t warrant anything but carry on luggage so we suggest you pack functional, versatile clothing. Choose colours and patterns that blend well with each other and carry a few accessories – a bright scarf or a snazzy tie can lend panache to even the most neutral ensemble. 

Lightweight fabrics (like cotton blends, synthetics, linen and thin wool knits) will slash the amount of weight you’re carrying and once laundered, they also tend to dry faster than heavier, thicker materials.

A weeklong sojourn will most probably necessitate checked luggage, but remember never to check-in your toiletry bag; you’re better off with easy access to personal care products.

If it doesn’t come to you instinctively, the art of travelling like a professional is something that needs to be practiced and honed into a way of life. If you just can’t seem to get the knack of it, stay on the ground and send someone better equipped to get the job done.

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