It’s no secret that the holidays are one of the most hectic times of the year to travel by plane. Airports are crowded with more travelers but entirely understaffed. Weather causes an increase in delays and cancellations. And, more than likely, the person standing in line in front of you is taking a flight for the first time in years, so that person is unintentionally holding up everyone else.
It’s these times that stress everyone out and make traveling with strangers more difficult than usual. But let’s make a pact this year that none of us will be those people. Neither you nor I will add to the tribulations of flying during the holidays. Instead, we’ll be those passengers who made getting everyone to their final destination go smoothly. And the truth is, it doesn’t take much to be one of those passengers. I’ve compiled a short list of simple holiday travel etiquette that, if everyone followed, would create a more peaceful travel season for everyone.
Don’t overindulge in alcohol
According to a recent survey for Britain’s Gentleman’s Journal, the most egregious thing you can do to be considered the worst traveler by your fellow passengers is overindulge in alcohol. A string of viral videos and numerous headlines depict drunken travelers creating emergency or security threats that ultimately delay travel schedules. Can you imagine being on a flight this season with someone who’s unable to control drunken emotions, and it results in you being unable to make it to your family’s place in time for the holidays? Simply put, don’t be that person. If you feel that you need a drink, or two, try having them at the bar in the airport instead. Limit your alcoholic beverages to just one on the plane, if you must, or avoid drinking there
Give someone a hand
If seated in the aisle, anticipate the fact that someone around you might need help getting a bag into the overhead bins above you. If you are able, give that passenger a hand. You’d be making life a tad less stressful, speeding up the boarding process for those still entering the plane and, hopefully, helping to ensure an on-time departure.
Don’t hog both armrests
‘Tis the season for giving, right? So then, don’t hog the armrests. Give the person who got stuck with the middle seat the gift of comfort this season! This simple gesture could give a fellow passenger a little sanity for the duration of the flight.
Alleviate your own stress
Emotions are always high this time of year. One of the best things you can do for your fellow passengers is alleviate your own stress so you don’t become yet another grumpy person. One of the best ways to alleviate stress is to be prepared for long wait times in security lines. Arrive to the airport earlier than you would when traveling normally. An early arrival will help ease you mind during long waits, and hopefully prevent a confrontation.
Know the TSA regulations and guidelines, and follow them
You can help everyone get through the TSA security line faster and to the flight faster by adhering to every TSA regulation and guideline. Most travelers’ bags are flagged and screened again because of their failure to pack less than 3.4 ounces of liquids. Make sure any home-cooked food (soups, dressings, gravy, etc.) you plan to take to or from your family’s home this holiday also follows this rule. It’s also good to know that TSA agents have every right to unwrap a gift. Therefore, it may be easier to wrap your gifts once you get to your final destination.
Keep lines moving quickly by staying prepared
One of the simplest and easiest, but best, ways to help out your fellow passengers this season is by being prepared. Take out your TSA-approved ID (driver’s license from most states or passport) and printed boarding pass (or have your digital copy already pulled up on your phone) well before you reach the first TSA agent in line. Keep your boarding pass handy so that you can easily grab it when boarding your plane.
For most people, simple hygiene isn’t a terrible problem. But for a select few, it just seems to be more difficult. And trust me, there’s nothing worse than having to sit next to someone who reeks throughout an entire cross-country flight. Simply ask yourself a few questions before you leave for the airport: When was the last time I showered? Did I just do something that made me sweat a lot? Have I recently applied deodorant or some kind of fragrance? When was the last time this outfit (including coat/outerwear) was washed? Hopefully these questions will help you determine if, in your current state, you should be sitting inches away from strangers for hours.
Keep your feet locked away
Avoid revealing your feet to your fellow passengers. Some body parts shouldn’t be shared with strangers, and feet are definitely some of them. Keep your feet in your socks. If you must take off your shoes, make sure your socks are completely clean. Bring a pair of clean socks for your carry-on just in case you aren’t wearing any—or the ones you are wearing aren’t very clean.
Megan Pinckney (@shadesofpinck) is a retired beauty queen turned lifestyle blogger who loves exploring the world and writing about it.