Airplane Etiquette: Unwritten Rules to Follow When Flying

You want to really know a person? Pay attention to how they treat wait staff, how they talk to their parents, and how they act when they fly. Nowhere on the planet, with the exception of Raiders games, packs so many people in so small a space with the potential to act like total jackasses. Yet somehow, we manage! In 2016, in fact, airlines that serve the US carried almost 1 billion passengers, a record high.

The secret to sloshing a billion people through terminals, security lines, and airplanes without utter chaos breaking out? A complex, unspoken social code nearly everyone observes. Most people simply get it. Then, there are the nail-clipping, baby-cussing, pajama-wearing, 9/11-joke making, full-bottle-of-water-in-the-TSA-line-carrying dumbasses. Look around on your next flight and you’re sure to spot one, blithely clobbering people with his backpack, unwrapping a hot fish sandwich, and cranking his seat back to full recline the second you hit 10,000 feet.

Some transgressions are obvious. Others, ambiguous moral gray zones you yourself have struggled with. Here, we wrote ‘em down. Now you know what all those glares have been trying to tell you.