If you've got a minute, we'd like to propose the 12 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 things might start off all jovial when you board the plane, but as the hours tick on, sensitivity becomes heightened – especially when it comes to long-haul flights. We, the masses, become bored and irritable and hungry and uncomfortable. We get emotional and maybe a little petty.

Which is why it’s important we work together to make it a more pleasant experience for all involved.

So without further ado, here are our 12 unspoken commandments of flying. (Disclaimer: these sassy pointers are all meant in good fun. As we always say – you do you.)

On our podcast Mamamia Out Loud, we discuss the social etiquette when it comes to “liking” (or not liking) a post on social media. Post continues after audio.

Rule #1: 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 #2: If you are asleep or not paying attention when food comes, you forfeit your right to it.

Sorry, them’s the rules.

Rule #3: 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 #4: 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 #5: 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 #6: 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 #7: 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 #8: 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.

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.

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