Image: Security line
Ted S. Warren  /  AP
Everyone who has gone through an airport security check has grumbled at passengers who seem clueless about the process.
By Charles Leocha Travel columnist
updated 6/12/2007 12:14:23 PM ET 2007-06-12T16:14:23

Good airplane etiquette means following the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This goes double for this summer travel season, which is shaping up to be very crowded both in the airports and on the planes. The rule is not hard to follow. In fact, you can lessen tensions with just a kind word and a smile, and small courtesies like these can have a very nice ripple effect.

Here are some simple rules to fly by.

In the security line
Everyone who has gone through an airport security check has grumbled at passengers who seem clueless about the process.

1. Read the posted instructions during that endless wait in the line.

2. Take your laptop out of its case.

3. Stash all your loose stuff (change, cell phone, PDA, keys) in your jacket pocket and then lay your jacket in the plastic bin. This not only speeds up the screening process, but your chances of leaving something behind on the conveyor belt are almost eliminated.

4. Remember the ban on liquids and have your stuff in its proper quart-sized plastic bag.

5. Be ready to take off your shoes as soon as you reach the scanner.

6. I know this sounds silly, but don't carry knives or firearms. Believe it or not, thousands of people forget this rule every year.

7. Don't pitch a fit if you are randomly selected for a more thorough search and screening. Someone has to do it.

On board the airplane
1. Help others stow their carry-ons. If you see someone struggling with carry-on luggage, don't just stand by gawking — lend a hand. It will make everyone feel better and help get the plane loaded faster.

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2. Think before reclining your seat. Sudden reclines can damage laptops and topple drinks, so recline slowly or warn the person behind you. Straighten up during meals to let the person behind you eat more easily.

3. Try not to grab the back of the seat in front of you when you get up or move down the aisle. Pulling on the seat back can cause that passenger in front of you to spill a drink, and it is almost certain to wake anyone who was asleep.

4. Help folks sit together. If you see a couple or family who would like to sit together, help them out if it doesn't inconvenience you. You might be in the same situation sometime.

5. Stow your luggage over your own seat. Taking storage space up front means that those seated up front have to come to the back to store their bags and retrieve them. Store the small bags and anything you might need during the flight, such as books or an iPod, under your seat.

6. Control your children. No one thinks it is cute to have his seat kicked for hours on end. Few appreciate screaming children. And I know flight attendants are not pleased with kids running up and down the aisle.

7. Leave a clean bathroom. Clean up after yourself. Flush the toilet. Wipe out the sink. Pick up any dropped tissues. Leave the facilities as least as clean as when you entered. Gads, it sounds like your Mom talking.

8. Don't block the movie screen. If you must get up, try to find a place to stand where you are not blocking someone's view of the movie.

9. Mind your space. Don't hog armrests (my rule is that the poor person in the middle has a right to the two armrests). And don't play your iPod at high volume — invading your seatmate's world with your choice of music is just as bad as physically invading their space.

10. Deplane row by row. According to computer simulations, waiting your turn is actually the fastest way to get off the plane.

At the baggage claim. Leave a bit of space around the baggage carousel for others to retrieve their luggage, and be careful how you swing your bag off the belt.

Yes, manners matter, and courtesy isn't that hard. If everyone followed these rules, flying would be far more pleasurable.

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