Travel tips: How to fly like a gentleman

From checking in to disembarking, this is how to navigate air travel properly

Today, a BBC investigation revealed that arrests of passengers suspected of being drunk at UK airports and on flights has risen by 50 per cent in the last year. Flying, it would appear, is becoming more and more boisterous by the day.

But the problems don’t just lay in the bottom of a bottle. Airplanes, check-in queues and departure lounges are all fraught with the rude and the noisy – so it’s about time to return a little decorum to the skies, and whether you’re travelling alone or in a crowd – learn how to fly like a gentleman.

The cardinal sin of air travel is getting in people’s way. From brushing past passengers when boarding to falling asleep on them mid-flight, there are few things so irksome as the person in the seat next to you invading your space. So watch out, think before you stretch out your legs and be sure to keep within the confines of your own area at all times.

Don’t recline your seat without checking behind you first, don’t overfill your designated area in the overheard stowage – learn to travel light, gents – and don’t manspread yourself across all three seats. Around 20% of women find it a very important trait in a gentleman to not manspread so respect the rules and digest our travel tips.

Also, just to settle the armrest argument once and for all – if you’re unlucky enough to land the middle seat, the armrests on each side are rightfully yours. Gentleman’s Journal found that 1 in 2 women expect a gentleman to never hog the arms rests. So if you want to impress the lady next to you, this is one piece of advice to follow.

Giving people space on flights – especially those long haul drags – extends past the physical space and into the personal. If someone’s trying to sleep next to you, or seems engrossed in a holiday read, then do not take this as a sign that you should incessantly try to engage them in conversation for the whole flight.

Personal space can be just as important as physical to some people, so keep shtum, read the situation and don’t interfere. Although, as a gentleman, it’s important to see if anyone is in need of a chat. Some people are deathly afraid of flying, so if someone looks as if they’re struggling on their own, be the first to offer them some gentle conversation and a helping hand.

There are certain unspoken rules about disembarking an airplane – the first of which being take your time. Unless you have a connection that you’re chronically late for, or a bathroom emergency – God help you – then you can wait the ten minutes it takes for everyone in front of you to get off the plane first. Your bags will still be on the carousel when you make it off the plane.

Don’t push and offer to help people get their bags out of the overhead storage. Around two-thirds of people believe it’s a mark of a gentleman. Also, ensure that groups aren’t split up by you pushing in mid-line. Stay sat down until you can actually move, swiftly pull your bag down and get off quickly and without fuss – whilst always pausing to thank the cabin crew.

How to dress for a flight

It is an age-old question, dress for comfort or dress for the occasion. When on a plane, everyone struggles for leg space, arm rests and even finding a non-painful posture from the chair. Young adults aged 18 to 24 seem to favour comfort over style as they are most likely to wear sweatpants and dress down when flying for business. However, more men prefer to be stylish and dressing a bit smarter when flying. We recommend finding a balance of clothing that allows you room to breathe while staying stylish and classic. Women agree with us as they’ve told Gentleman’s Journal they prefer a gent to dress smart, with trousers, a shirt and tie.

Speaking of getting off, the toilet is just that; a toilet. Any ambitions you have of joining the Mile High Club should be filed firmly alongside flying in flip-flops and inflatable neck pillows in airplane no-nos. Because, not only is getting it on on-board only remotely acceptable if you’ve got a private jet and no queues outside the toilet door, but airplane bathrooms are notoriously filthy.

As such, get in and get out, making sure that the toilet is in as ‘good’ a state when you leave as it was when you enter. Even if you’re flying first class, we’d leave the complimentary products – from toothbrushes to flannels – in the toilets where they are, and remember – as comfortable as you are in your seat, shoes on when you visit the toilet.

Which brings us back to where we began. Drinking on flights is nothing new, but it seems to be spiralling out of control – with more clear spirits and cans of cheap lager being consumed in mid-air than they are in the kitsch airport pub before you take off. Heed this advice; one drink every two hours is acceptable, but start quaffing quicker than that and you’ll be in trouble.

If it’s brandy to soothe the nerves, that’s permissible? A small glass of red wine with your in-flight meal? Go right ahead. But the moment  you start clicking at the air hostess to bring you more beer, or your fifth gin and tonic in as many hours, you’ve gone too far.  In fact 65% of people frown upon a gentleman getting drunk on a flight.  Take a break from the bottle, relax and sleep – without an inflatable neck pillow, of course…

Gentlemen's Journal is happy to partner with The Prince’s Trust RISE campaign, which is working to create a network of young adults aged between 21-45, who are passionate about social mobility. You can become a Prince’s Trust Riser by donating just £20 per month to the scheme.
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