Getting to the airport early and going through the security strip tease is hassle enough. When you're on the plane, you want peace and, if you're lucky enough to win the baby lotto as the proud parents whisk their newborn several dozen rows behind you, quiet.
That said, here are 10 rules of airplane etiquette once you've tightened your seatbelt and stashed your carry-on:
1. Mind Your Space
Just because you've had trouble saying no to Wendy's doesn't mean you have to remind the person next to you throughout the flight. Keep those flabby forearms in your space and those hubcab knees in front of you. Nobody wants body contact on a flight, unless it's your significant other.
2. They Make Paperbacks, Don't They?
Never bring a broadsheet newspaper (Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe) to read on the plane. It's OK in the terminal, but violates the personal space rule (see No. 1). If you must read a newspaper, bring a tabloid (NY Post, Newsday). A magazine or book is even better.
3. It's Not a Tea Party
Some people look forward to meeting strangers and befriending them on a plane. Others don't. Learn the difference. If your conversation seems one-way, take the hint. Some people would rather use three hours to plow through a novel or get some work done instead of exchanging shallow conversation.
4. If You're a Bathroom Person, Take an Aisle Seat
You've downed six Diet Cokes and two cups of coffee and you've requested a window seat. Not a good idea. There's nothing more annoying than waking from a nap a half dozen times to let fountain-boy through. Especially on those tight United flights.
5. You're Not the Flight DJ
If you're going to listen to music on your Walkman or MP3 player, keep the volume down. Not everyone enjoys 50 Cent and Nelly. The volume is louder than you think, especially if the headset is not snug to your ear.
6. Rubbernecking, Part 1
If you have an aisle seat, don't lean across your fellow passengers to look out the window. Conversely, if you're in the window seat on the right side of the plane and the pilot says there's an excellent view of Cape Canaveral on the left, don't try to catch a glimpse. This definitely violates Rule No. 1.
7. Rubbernecking, Part 2
Don't read the magazine or book that the woman sitting next to you is reading. They notice and it's annoying, trust me. Worse yet, don't comment on the article or story. That violates Rule No. 3 in a big way.
8. It's Called Deodorant
It's a shame this even needs to be mentioned, but it does. Please, please remember to bathe or shower before your flight. These are tight quarters and the only air is recirculated cabin air. Even a 55-minute flight can be uncomfortable if you smell like you just ran a 10K wearing a leather jacket.
9. Kids are Kids
Children are excited on a plane, and it's not unusual for a youngster to cry, whine and show off the power of his lungs. But parents, please keep your kids' feet and hands off the back of the seat in front of them. It's annoying and migraine-inducing to have your seat kicked, punched and slapped for three hours while mommy and daddy think it's cute that junior is entertaining himself.
10. You'll Get Off the Plane, Promise
When the plane lands, you don't need to stand if you're more than five rows back. Most airlines don't even begin unloading for five minutes, then it takes at least 30 seconds for those first five rows to move. So if you're in Seat 37D, there's no reason for your backside to be in someone's face the minute the plane pulls up to the hangar. Also, just to review, the rows empty from front to back. If you're in Seat 37D and the woman in Seat 36D is a little slow pulling down her luggage, don't leapfrog past her. That's just rude.
Follow these 10 rules and you'll make flying a better experience for each of us. You're now free to move about the cabin (unless you're the guy violating Rule No. 4).