The 20 unspoken 'rules' of plane etiquette.

We need to talk about plane etiquette.

Not the actual rules, like pausing your personal devices for the safety announcement.

We mean the unwritten rules of air travel. The ones that pertain to common courtesy; to acknowledge that you're 35 thousand feet in the air with 200 other people in close confines.

Because while things might begin all jovial when you board a flight, people lose all sense of common decency as soon as those wheels stop touching the ground and quite frankly, I have no idea why. 

Watch: 7 annoying plane habits you should probably avoid doing (if you can!). Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

We, the masses, are perfectly eloquent, friendly and respectful on the tarmac. 

But once we're in the air? Well, some of us just don't know how to control ourselves. 

Since we're all here, let's just get right into it, shall we? The Sydney Morning Herald sparked a conversation over the weekend when reminding flyers of bin storage etiquette.

Simply put, too many of us are bin hogs, forgetful about where our pen should be kept (firmly in our jacket pocket, thank you) and unconsciously rude about how much is actually appropriate to pack... because, excuse me, but why do you have a backpack, a weekender bag and a coat the size of another full-grown adult with you? 


Anyway, it got us here at Mamamia thinking about everything we've ever wanted to say to the people who fly with us. 

Because there are RULES, people. Not explicit, lawful rules. Moreso, a list of demands that have been meticulously formed over the years by so many of us who just want to have a good flying experience... for once. 

So without further ado, here are our 20 unspoken commandments of flying. (Disclaimer: these sassy pointers are all meant in good fun. As we always say – you do you.)

Rule #1: Please keep all valuables on your person. 

I'm not sure why people don't keep their phones in their hands at all times (ahem, probably those who don't have a phone addiction...), but it NEEDS to stop. 

Getting up multiple times during a flight to grab a pen, then an inhaler, then a pair of headphones is also a waste of everyone's time... but most of all, theirs.

Rule #2: People who take their shoes off. 

A part of me wants to ask, "In what world would someone do this?" But I already know the answer. Sadly, it is this world. 

To those who feel comfortable getting their dogs out in a confined space with hundreds of other people, I want to say that you frighten me. But also, a part of me deeply respects your ability to simply not give a f**k.

Rule #3: People who leave the restroom dirty.


I sincerely don't want to see what you had for breakfast. 

Rule #4: Pls sit down. You don't get a prize for getting off the plane first.

Nuff said.

Rule #5: Why is your hair in my personal space?

You know those people who flip their long, gorgeous hair OVER the chair so it impedes into your personal space? 

If you don't, then let me just tell you that you're one of the lucky ones. 


Rule #6: Don't put your seat back until I say it is appropriate, sir.

This one is a personal pet peeve really because putting a seat down three seconds into a 90-minute flight is genuinely offensive. 



Rule #8: Your perfume is in my mouth, ma'am. 

To those who insist on smelling good on a plane, I commend you (because not everyone does, quite frankly) but perhaps keep the phrase "subtlety is an art" in mind when spraying your long-lasting eau de parfum, next time.

Rule #9: Pay attention to the flight attendant when they’re doing the pre-flight safety demonstration.

Even if you’ve seen it 50 times, it’s just the right thing to do – they’re doing their jobs and trying to tell you what you need to know in the event of an emergency. All planes are different etc etc.

Rule #10: Pls cry/laugh/gasp quietly.

Everyone’s sat next to that guy who’s having a really great time watching Modern Family and laughing at the top of his lungs. It’s not cute. Kindly tone down your emotions.

Rule #11: Don’t get up before the seatbelt sign is turned off.

It’s entirely unnecessary and you’ll only end up with a sore neck.

Rule #12: When disembarking, let the people in the row ahead of you get their overhead baggage and leave first.

Everyone’s keen to get off. This act of common courtesy keeps this whole invisible system working. If we all bolted for the door, it’d be straight-up chaos.

Rule #13: You can only take ownership of one armrest.

There’s nothing worse than sitting in the middle seat and having both your armrests commandeered by your cabin mates. Everyone is entitled to an armrest, but NEVER TWO. When choosing your armrest, you must make this choice early and you may be subtly assertive so your next-door neighbour knows the score. A silent negotiation may be performed, where both parties are left satisfied.

Rule #14: If you are asleep or not paying attention when food comes, you forfeit your right to it.

Sorry, them’s the rules.

Rule #15: If the person in the middle or window seat needs to go to the bathroom, you gotta get up.

It’s tempting when you have your headphones in and you’re twenty minutes into A Star Is Born to try to retreat back into your chair for your neighbour to pass. But it’s rarely seamless and may end in them straddling your legs. So just make it easy for you both, k?


Rule #16: Don’t hoard the snacks at the back of the plane.

This applies to the ‘serve yourself’ section at the back of long-haul flights, if you’re lucky enough to be supplied one. You can’t be sneaking all the Tim Tams so everyone else is left with muesli bars. Only take what you need, it’s not Survivor.

Rule #17: If you didn’t get the window seat, you must accept your lot in life.

Oh look it’s the ocean yes we see it. That’s why we chose this seat. Don’t be leaning over people for pics.

Rule #18: Your flirting is awkward for everyone else.

When two strangers end up in a flirtatious conversation, everyone in close proximity is listening and wishing it would stop.

Rule #19: Be efficient in the toilet during peak hour.

If there are nine people waiting, three of them with children, this is no time for doing a three-step cleanse or whatever else people do in there. You can hang out and meditate in the toilet when the lights are dimmed and the rest of the plane’s asleep.

Rule #20: Don’t be cocky about having extra leg room.

We get it, you got the seats at the front. Assuming the cocky leg-stretch position early into the flight will not win you any friends. Especially when the other passengers have tray tables up in their faces while they’re trying to eat their rehydrated mashed potato.

Do you have any rules to add to our list? Let us know in the comments.

This article was originally published on November 21, 2019 and has since been updated with new information.

Feature Image: Getty.

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