News has reached us of a mid-air punch up aboard a United Airlines flight that resulted in the flight being diverted and both passengers being unceremoniously removed from the aircraft. The reason for the air rage? That particularly thorny issue of airtiquette - the seat recline.
As a regular flyer, reclining airline seats are an issue close to my heart - sometimes no more than a few inches away, in fact, so I've decided to compile the Original Travel Guide to Airtiquette. Naturally no Original Travel client would ever commit one of these in flight faux pas, but just in case…
1. Reclining seats
Yes, we know it's your right to recline, but really? REALLY!? The Original Travel line on this is simple - on a long haul flight there is an understanding that everyone will recline at some point in order to get some shut eye, but even then, it's always nice to lean over and ask if it's OK. Slamming the seat back without warning while someone is drinking their post dinner coffee is just a big fat no-no. Conversely, on a short haul flight, and particularly on low cost airlines where the person behind you is already feeling like livestock on the way to an abattoir, reclining your seat is never, ever acceptable. (Got that, dark-haired German lady in seat 1C flying back from Tours the other day?) One final word on this - knee defenders or other gadgets designed to prevent someone reclining, as used by one of the combatants on the United Airlines, are just asking for trouble. Avoid, please.
2. Stowing your hand luggage
If you have a rectangular bag and you store it lengthways, you are effectively reducing the hand luggage capacity by, oooh, about a third. Please don't. If it's too long to fit in widthways without stopping the cabin crew shutting the lockers, then how about buying a more appropriate piece of hand luggage? Thanks!
3. Know your limits
A quick tipple may alleviate those flying nerves, but eight gin and tonics later you'll just be getting on everyone else's nerves, or worse. The latest air rage article does not go into detail about whether alcohol was involved but the vast majority of in-flight fisticuffs are a direct result of boozing at altitude, when the effects are multiplied.
4. Control your children
The reverse of the seat recliner, and arguably even worse, is the kid kicker who delights in bashing the back of your seat for 11 hours all the way to Tokyo. Your children, your responsibility, but if you book a family holiday through Original Travel we provide every child with a tailormade pack of games and goodies to keep them entertained and informed throughout the holiday, including on the flight. Speaking from happy (and relieved) experience as a dad of four, the packs work a treat and not one of them has resorted to half volleying the seat in front for hours on end. Fate well and truly tempted.
5. Turn down the music
Also applies to buses, trains and tube carriages, but in this instance to your nearest airliner. Just because you've got a vastly over-priced pair of Beats by Dr Dre headphones doesn't make you a rap gazzilionnaire and doesn't mean we want to hear your music five rows back, even over the sound of the engines.
6. Arm rests
A tricky one here but my logic is as follows: if you're unfortunate enough to be in the middle seat of a bank of three, then you should get first dibs on both your arm rests by way of compensation. If you're in a bank of two, you both get the outside one and can declare elbow war for the middle rest.
7. Body odours
Apparently one of the worst smells in the world is when the ground crew open the pressurised doors after a long haul flight. I'll leave that to your imagination, but pongy socks and surreptitious breaking of wind are simply unacceptable.
8. Lads on tour
Be good chaps and take the Eurostar next time. There are terrific onward connections from Paris Gard du Nord.
9. The constant mover
I'm trying to sleep here! I've also chosen the aisle seat so I can stretch my legs out in the middle of the night. You clambering over me to get to the loo every half hour is not helping.
10. And finally….
A piece of advice I once heard from a cabin crew veteran. If you want to get preferential treatment or at least avoid being studiously ignored during the flight, make the effort to look like you're listening during the pre-flight safety announcements. I know you've heard it before, but this common courtesy could pay dividends when it comes to sneaking that newspaper or bottle of bubbly out of business class. Then refer back to Rule 3.