Pilots Know Best
In Ron Cox's 37 years of flying, he has seen it all. Many have overlooked what might seem like standard rules for proper flight (and public) behavior, leaving their neighbors uncomfortable and displeased.
1. Tell us a little about your background and what you currently do.
I'm a Georgia native, grew up in Cartersville, graduate of West Georgia College (now the University of West Georgia). I've been flying for 37 years total, and have been with an airline for 30 years. I currently am a 767-400 Captain flying to Europe and South America. I have previously been a Captain on 767-200, 767-300, 757, 737, and 727.2. What are your top rules for passengers to practice excellent flight etiquette?
The practice that passengers most often engage in that is most inappropriate is, in my opinion, taking off shoes and socks. To make matters worse, they then put their dirty feet on the armrest of the seat in front. The foot is on the rearmost area of the armrest and is unseen by the occupant of the armrests seat, but the practice is unsightly, unseemly, unclean and most often smelly. The utmost in disrespect, and a complete breach of etiquette.3. What is the one mistake you see people constantly make while travelling?
People always assume that they have to bring everything with them in an onboard suitcase. Most often this is because they fear a checked bag being lost. On my airline we lose about 3 bags per 100,000 and those are found and delivered within 24 hours well over 90% of the time. Checking a bag frees up overhead space for other passengers and mostly, it makes the airport experience much less worrisome. Getting on and off of an airplane without the fuss of a bag is the way to go. Also, most airports are designed so that passengers have to walk past baggage claim anyway, so why not check it?4. If you could give one piece of advice to all passengers before and during their flight, what would it be?
My traveling advice would be pay attention, be courteous toward and respectful of the flight crew as well as gate agents, ticket agents, etc. They are trained to take care of our passengers and sometimes when dealing with hundreds of thousands of passengers per day, things go wrong. Planes break, computers go down and reservation changes sometimes fall through the electronic cracks. Be patient. Be respectful. It will be repaid tenfold.5. Is there anything we haven't covered but you would like to tell travelers before they book their next flight?
The airline industry is amazing in its ability to gather up a passenger and deposit them hundreds of thousands of miles away, usually within a few minutes of when their ticket, printed months earlier in many cases, stated they would arrive. It's a meticulously planned and highly efficient system, when everything is taken into account. It works so well that it's almost taken for granted. Sometimes, however, things malfunction. Don't take out your frustrations on the airport/airline employee, however. In almost every case, their day just became exponentially harder because of the same breakdown.
How To Be Courteous on Your Flight
- Prepare ahead of time.
- Check behind you before you recline.
- The middle seat always gets the armrests.
- Be respectful of those around you. Use headphones, talk quietly, etc.
- Allow those in front of you to disembark first.
- Practice good hygiene and be mindful of body odor.
- Be careful not to kick the chair in front of you.
- Leave room for other people's bags in the overhead bin.