Volumes have been written about how to properly behave at weddings or which fork to use at fancy dinners.
But when it comes to dealing with the neighboring passenger who hogs precious airline arm space or the unruly kid who won't pipe down on crowded flights, there's precious little out there.
Until now. Delta Air Lines Inc. is trying to raise awareness of behavior in the air by creating an animated series of videos showing passengers confronted with delicate social situations.
The Atlanta-based company is rolling out "Planeguage: The language of traveling by plane," a series of 25 humorous videos the airline has posted online and introduced on flights this month.
"We understand what you go through as a traveler," said Tim Mapes, Delta's vice president of marketing. "These videos can reinforce, 'Hey, you don't want to be that guy.'"
The snippets include "Middleman," about the middle-seat bully; "Kidtastrophe," depicting unruly tots on planes; "Lav Dance," about the person who bumps into everyone in the airplane aisle while returning from the lavatory; and "Shady Lady," about the passenger who raises or closes the window shade without considering other passengers.
The videos, which were created after Delta officials heard customers talk about experiences aboard planes, are meant to "help raise travelers' consciousness about what it means to be good travel companions," said spokeswoman Betsy Talton.
Airlines and customers have differed on what it means to be a good traveler. Southwest Airlines Co. was criticized for telling a young woman in July that her outfit was too revealing to fly. Chief Executive Gary Kelly issued an apology to the young woman, Kyla Ebbert, that was read on "The Dr. Phil Show."
"We expect our employees to use good judgment, common sense and good taste and we feel if our customers do the same we won't have issues on board a flight," said Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz, who said his airline may consider following Delta's lead. "Good judgment serves everyone well ... usually you can find common ground."
Part of the problem is that airlines haven't properly educated the public on what to expect aboard a plane, said Andrew R. Thomas, an assistant professor of international business at the University of Akron and an author of books on air travel and security. And growth in air travel has meant thousands of new passengers who have never been in the air, he said.
"The airlines have finally caught on to the fact that the amount of people traveling, especially the amount of people who haven't traveled before is exponentially rising," Thomas said. "There has to be some kind of (process) where people can become familiar with the travel experience and hopefully not while in flight."
The move has been applauded by some Delta passengers, including Larry Pellegrini, a 52-year-old sales executive who said his biggest pet peeve on his weekly flights are passengers who do not cover their mouths when they cough.
"There should be an education process ... when it comes to proper etiquette" in the air, he said.
It has also won praise from Anna Post — the great-great-granddaughter of etiquette icon Emily Post — who said the videos could be an effective way to teach passengers how to better fly the friendly skies.
"The more aware people are about how their actions affect others, the better the chances are that they'll make more of an effort to be considerate," said Post, who leads business etiquette seminars at The Emily Post Institute in Burlington, Vt.
"The times when I see rudeness happening is when I don't see people being self-aware. It's great to see an airline acknowledge they understand the crazy situations passengers go through."