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What Would Emily Post Do?

True story: Back in the 80s, a friend of mine flew home from the Dominican Republic with her Spanish-speaking grandfather and a gallon-size container of honey from his farm. As if he were traveling with gold bars, he carefully placed the jug of honey in the overhead bin a few seats away. About half-way through the flight, the unlucky man beneath said bin found himself completely doused in honey, which seeped into his ears, covered his eyes, and slid down the space between his collar and his neck. As everyone on the plane turned to see what the shrieking was all about, my friend–who was eight at the time—became the impromptu translator of some colorful language from the flight attendant to her grandfather.

True story: Back in the 80s, a friend of mine flew home from the Dominican Republic with her Spanish-speaking grandfather and a gallon-size container of honey from his farm. As if he were traveling with gold bars, he carefully placed the jug of honey in the overhead bin a few seats away. About half-way through the flight, the unlucky man beneath said bin found himself completely doused in honey, which seeped into his ears, covered his eyes, and slid down the space between his collar and his neck. As everyone on the plane turned to see what the shrieking was all about, my friend–who was eight at the time—became the impromptu translator of some colorful language from the flight attendant to her grandfather.

Given the recent TSA restrictions on liquids, pastes, and gels, that story gets filed under “old school” travel tales. Even so, travel etiquette remains undefined, and flights are still some of the best sources of storytelling, so long as you maintain a sense of humor. Like the time the gentleman in front of me (who reclined his seat as far as possible, collapsing my laptop onto my fingers) and I engaged in a small cold war over the opening and closing of, ahem…my window shade. I had a migraine and wanted to block out the sun as it bounced off the wing and into my eyes–it was, after all, directly next to my seat–and every time I shut it, he reopened it. This silly, wordless back-and-forth went on for nearly four hours. It still makes me chuckle.

And that was better than the time I got seated next to the Chatty Cathy who indulged me in the finer points of her divorce proceedings for the entire ride from New York to San Francisco. Even with my iPod headphones on, I was a captive audience; what could I do?

There always seems to be some character that’s ripe for parody among friends and family when you land. Wouldn’t it be nice if pilots took a cue from those garbled NYC subway announcements, and educated us travelers on who has a right to the middle armrest, and other dos and don’ts on the plane? I, for one, would be grateful for some guidelines.

With the holidays upon us, and all the stress and unusual behavior that results, I would like to get your opinion on what you consider appropriate airline etiquette.

jennifer_catto

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Comments

Anne
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Please, please, please…it you’re sitting in the front row of economy or business, don’t take your shoes off and extend your legs onto the wall board. It’s just rude, and no one wants to look at your feet (with shoes or not) up on the wall. You (hopefully) wouldn’t put your feet on someone’s coffee table, so why the wall?

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