Travel Etiquette: How to Not Be Annoying on a Plane
Our new etiquette series tackles those nagging questions that have always plagued you while traveling. This week, we take on manners in the air. Our expert? Erik Torkells—author of the Smart Traveler’s Passport, former editor in chief of Budget Travel, and all-around travel guru—who’s here to tell us right from wrong. And we’re happy to discover that good manners aren’t dead.
Have your own etiquette dilemna? Tweet us at @yahootravel using the hashtag #Etiquette.
Help! The person in the seat next to mine is watching something dirty on his iPad. Can I ask him to stop?
Erik: I assume you mean sexy-dirty and not a new TV show about people who clean pig pens for a living. The short answer is—no, and mind your own business. The long answer involves whether the sound is on (in which case, you may ask that he mute it), whether he is enjoying it too much, whether any minors can see it, whether the content is limited to consenting adults (human adults), and whether you recognize yourself from a misguided fling with an amateur cinematographer. For most of those cases, your best bet is to ask that he angle the screen away from you. Or ask the flight attendants if there’s another seat available. For any of the other scenarios mentioned, you should alert the authorities.
My wife wants to get a note from our doctor saying our dog is an emotional-support animal—even though she isn’t—just so we don’t have to pay the fee when she flies.
Erik: Airlines are unparalleled when it comes to treating their customers shabbily, except on this one issue. According to a recent New York Times article, they’re so wary of running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act that they’re letting passengers with emotional-support dogs get away with all sorts of things. (Meanwhile, travelers who pay the normal pet rate are charged an arm and a leg.) I imagine we all support the rights of people who truly need their dogs to get through a flight. But do we not feel for people who are allergic to animals? Do we not agree that convenience is a poor excuse for unethical behavior? Do we not worry that pretending to need an emotional-support dog might lead—in the way things often work out—to actually needing one? Let me put it another way: Would you pretend to need a wheelchair just so you could skip the line at airport security? (We'll address that question at another time.)