Ladylike Laws: Airplane Etiquette


If you’re reading this, it means that I am already off on my big trip to Tanzania. Each way, the flight is roughly 30 hours. Yikes. That said, while flying comes second nature to me (I fly to NYC once a month or more), I’ve learned my fair share of travel tips and mid-air manners for life at 30,000 feet. Today, I am going to dish my tips on in-flight etiquette. According to a recent study, half of airplane travelers surveyed are most annoyed by: 1. Fellow passenger’s poor hygiene, 2. Kicking the back of airplane seats, and 3. Deplaning before those seated in front of you. While I’m sure all of you have lovely up-in-the-air etiquette, I thought it might be nice to go over the basics. So think of this as your “go graceful” travelers guide…

  1. Carry low & light. If possible, check your bags. If you do carry-on, hold your bag low so as not to knock your neighbors as you make your way to your seat.
  2. Use your overhead. Real estate is valuable on an airplane, so pack your goodies into the overhead compartment that correlates with your seat. I cannot tell you how many times I have spotted people jamming their things into the compartments toward the front of the plane (far away from their seats). Now what do all those people at the front of the plane do? Simply put, be courteous.
  3. Sprawl slowly. Only recline once the crew has stated that it is safe to do so. When you do recline, do it slowly. No need to surprise the person sitting behind you with a quick jolt.
  4. Get over grabbing. Try your best not to grab the headrest of the seat in front of you as your make your way to and from your spot. It’s annoying, isn’t it?
  5. The armrest debate. There are a few ways to deal if you find yourself in the center seat: A) You share with your neighbors, B) You claim one right off the bat, C) Hopefully the two end seats will feel bad for you (you know, since you’re “stuck in the middle”?) and just let you have both of them.
  6. Chatty Cathy and Silent Susie. Depending on who you end up next to, be sure to navigate such encounters with grace. If you are too tired to chat or too anxious not to, take a clue from (or give one to) your neighbor.
  7. Smells & stinks. Be mindful and don’t bring smelly food onto the plane such as fast food, stinky garlic hummus or sticky buns etc. Also, don’t wear perfume or lotions that are particularly overpowering either. Your fellow travellers will thank you!
  8. Turn it down. While that new Ellie Goulding remix may be amazing, you don’t need to share it with the rest of the plane. Remember that other passengers can often hear what you’re listening to on your headphones if they’re blasting.
  9. Bring your own books (or entertainment). How creepy is it when you realize lazy Larry hasn’t been sleeping the past 3 hours…instead, you realize, he’s been reading The Hunger Games with you! No thank you.
  10. Don’t be a diva (or a drunk). Remember, everyone is in the same boat–err, plane–so act accordingly. Things might not go your way, but it’s important to behave and be as lovely as possible. I like to think a Zen-like attitude will influence those around me.

If you have any other frequent flyer pet peeves to air or suggestions to share, tell me in comments below.

Speaking of flying, if you could visit 3 locations (anywhere in the world) where would you go?

Fly fabulously ladies!

XO Lauren

You might also like…
Ladylike Laws: Restaurant Dining
Book Club: The Hunger Games Q&A
Simply Smitten: I Believe in Pink
Photo Diary: My Busy, Crazy Life

Photo Credit: MariaKillam

Categories: Contributors, Etiquette, Grow, Ladylike Laws, Lauren Conrad
Share This
  • Sarah Heckle

    These are GREAT tips! I used to work at the airport for summers during college. The overhead space thing is a big pet peeve — soem people are really inconsiderate and take up the whole bin themselves! Also, you shouldn’t ever get mad at your fligth crew for weather or airplane maintenance — they’re just trying to keep you safe!


    Green + Blue Colorblock = my new outfit post!

  • Lauren Hoffman

    Awesome tips Lauren. I think there should be some in there about flying with children and teaching them how to behave. There’s nothing worse than a screaming, antsy child in front of you!

    My 3 places… hmm
    1. Greek Islands (check out my fave fashions to wear here)
    2. Paris (that’s a given)
    3. Costa Rica

    <3 Lauren

    We’re almost in spring, check out how to take your existing, winter investment pieces and transform them into warm weather wear!

  • Risa Pitman

    30 hours?!?!?! Please tell me they had in-flight bar service! Great tips for happy traveling.

    Check out my latest post on my beautiful bridal shower!:

  • Aya Gaylor

    That’s a quite long flight! I live in Tokyo now and often go to the US, about 12 hours flight is very tiring. You must be tired…! I’m wondering if you do anything for your beauty in plane. I do massages and facial masks for long flight. :) I hope youhave a safe trip back!

  • DMichelle

    I would love to hear your airplane beauty tips! ie; Favorite products for staying moisturized, not breaking out, etc.

  • Martin M

    I wish you suach a wonderful trip to Tanzania! Enjoy it. It is a once in a lifetime trip. Never forget to be as gorgeous as always :)

    Thanks for beeing such an inspiration!!!

    Visit me :) look-scout

  • Carolyn Drover

    I hate when people’s headphones are too loud when listening to music!

    3 places I want to visit:

    1. Thailand
    2. Austrailia/New Zealand
    3. Greece

  • Michelle LaPorte

    I would love to go to:

    1. Australia

    2. Greece

    3. Paris

    I love these tips! They are perfect advice for traveling!

  • Jaclyn S

    I would love to visit:

    1) Italy

    2) Ireland

    3) Australia

    Wishing everyone safe travels :)

  • Alba Cuci

    OMG I want to print this and pass it out every time I travel. Especially number 4. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my hair pulled because someone grabbed my headrest. I’m particularly annoyed by that!

    I travel quite a bit as well (Off to Miami at the end of the week!) and would love to see a post on travel wardrobe :)


  • Meredith Brown

    1) South Africa, 2) Thailand, and 3) Brazil (and everywhere else in the world!)

  • paypat

    With all of the recent news about parents and children being taken off planes, I think it might be nice to try to be understanding about crying babies and cranky toddlers. After all, every one of us was once them, and many of us are parents as well. It is extremely trying to travel with children, but a little kindness goes a long way.

  • paypat

    PS Hawaii, Aruba, anywhere in Europe

    Beauty tip – drink a lot of water, and wear loose shoes (but don’t take them off)

  • Jennifer Manis

    I will be traveling soon- great advice! I would love to see more travel tips.

    3 palces I would like to go to:

    Australia, London, Paris

  • Melissa Panici

    Thank you for the flying tips Lauren! I actually have never flown on a plane but I want to so bad some day! If I could go to 3 locations, I would go to:

    1.) Los Angeles, CA




  • Cathlynn Hornof

    I try to be tolerant to others, I hate when people don’t think of what they’re doing might affect anyone else! I fly every year about 15hours. I couldn’t imagine 30. Have a nice and safe flight back though!

  • Stephanie DiMaggio

    What a great blog, thanks!

    1. Hawaii

    2. Italy(Capri, Sicily, Rome)

    3. Bora Bora

  • Karie Obremski

    I flew to London two years ago and the ENTIRE trip there a family with 3 girls, 2 boys and 1 baby kept walking up and down the aisles, bouncing the baby and the whole trip the baby cried then we touched down and the poor thing fell asleep. TALK ABOUT TIMING.

  • Eliza Zamora

    Rio De Janeiro, Argentina and London

    Please check out

  • Sweetpea

    My biggest pet peeve during flying is girls wearing TONS of jewellery. I have nothing against jewellery outside an airport. But it annoys me so much when I am at the security check (which you may have 2 times according to the airport) and there is a girl who wore million pieces of jewellery and everyone has to wait for her at the queue. Because that girl always forget a piece on, thus she beeps. Then, she has to go back, remove more jewellery and pass again and repeat this a billion times while other passangers wait for her for eternity. Why, OH WHY, would you wear that much metal on you to an AIRPORT?! Ugh, I HATE this so much. I got so mad just by writing it. Sorry ladies! But please wear no/minimal metal jewellery to an airport, it is annoying.

  • Kimberly

    I would go to 1) Australia 2) Los Angeles 3) Italy. I hope you’ve had a nice time! Xx

  • Christina

    I am dying to go to 1) Bora Bora 2) Bali 3) Italy

  • Zuleando

    Europe, China and Brazil…very different cultures. Actually, I can’t die without visiting South Africa…I’ll need 4 places.

  • Megan M

    I want to go to the Bahamas, Ireland and Alaska :)

  • Larissa Wilhelm

    These are excellent guidelines. Thanks Lauren. Hopefully the air will be a lot more pleasant to travel by now. As for the 3 places I would go… Italy (again), Hawaii, and Africa.

  • Agata Kalinowska

    Great tips! For polish passengers it is remarkable to clap their hands loudly when the plane lands (i have no idea why, the pilot can’t hear them!).

    I’m flying this August to USA, it is going to be a loooooong flight, but totally worth it, I hope

    So my three destinations would be:

    1. USA( including Hawaii,yay)

    2. Mexico

    3. Seychelles (I would have to be very rich I guess)

  • Emma Kershaw

    I would go to Australia, Mexico and Japan!

    Check out my beauty blog

  • Karmele Garcia

    If I could go anywhere I would go to Paris, Disney and Bora Bora!

  • Amanda DeWitt

    I’m travinling to south california in June! I will keep my Airplane etiquette in mind for the trip (coming from florida).

    I would also like to see: North California (to see the Red Woods), Australia, and Alaska (in the summer)

  • Procrastinator

    The Maldives, Croatia and Denmark!

    Speaking of strong smells, I once had a girl next to me paint her nails the entire 10 hour flight back from Ireland. As in, every hour or so she’d put on another coat. What do you even do in that situation?

    xo Procrastinating Pretty

  • Melissa Panici

    @Sweetpea You crack me up! I totally agree with you:)

  • allison kaput

    I’m already planning my next trip to Europe already! I want to go to England and Ireland for at least a week each in the next year or so!

    Dream trips are

    Australia/New Zealand



    My grandmother went all over the world during her 95 years. I would love to visit every where she went and then some more! Already been to France, Switzerland, Denmark and lived in Italy for 3 months, can’t wait for the next trip!

  • karly goins

    Thanks for these super helpful tips Laureen! if I’m blessed I’ll be visitng Cabo during the summer and I haven’t flown in a while, so these tips might just come in handy :)

    The 3 places I would visit are:

    1. Greece

    2. New York

    3. France

  • Tha Manalive

    I remember flying from L.A to NYC and sitting next to a woman who proceeds to tell me about her life story that ended with, and “”That’s why I’m always horny.”” With a big smile.

  • Dy Shiny

    If I could go anywhere I would go to Australia, Finland and California!!!

  • Destiny Froste

    Three places….Morocco, Japan, and Great Britain again. The first two I have never had the chance to visit but have always wanted to, and then I am absolutely in love with GB.

  • Kayleigh M

    I am going to be on my best behaviour when I fly to Dublin for my friends Hen Weekend next month :) xx

  • Anna Martin

    The biggest problem I have on flights are crying babies! I know parents can’t help it, but they should at least try to comfort their child! There was a child screaming like she was in pain on the last flight I took, and the parents did absolutely nothing for her.

    I would love to go to England, Ireland, and Italy! :)

  • Tiffani Stuart

    Love these! People can be so rude, at times– but you hit all the Do’s & Dont’s on the head! Can’t wait to meet you soon!

  • heidi kokborg

    I would go to London and New York – I love those cities, and even though I

  • Emmeline Staelens

    I’ve also experienced some of these “”problems”” xd

    I would visit New York, Corsica and California :) (or Egypt and Portugal)

  • Rosely C

    I recently wrote about this, I would love to visit London, Italy and Shanghai.

  • Loretta Cassidy

    My favorite place in the world to visit is Vieques, PR!!! Best location in the world!

  • Heather Henderson

    Having something to do on the plane (like a kindle to read) definitely makes the trip a lot faster and ensures that you won’t be bothering your neighbor!

  • Katjusha Bricman

    If I could visit 3 locations in the world, I would go to Stockholm again, I love it there! Then New York, I haven’t been there yet, and Los Angeles; I haven’t been there either.

    I’m glad you wrote about how to behave on plane, because some people really don’t have manners… Last time I traveled to Scandinavia, it was by bus (painful enough…) but you get to see alot on the way. Still… I’ll never do that agian, once was enough.

    There was a couple in front of me and my bf, they leaned their seats as much as they could and I was trapped on my seat all the way. I didn’t complain because they were old, and I knew it must be much more painful for them, but stil… And the wife… OMG she was caughing all the time!!! Sneezing and touching all the things in bus… YUCK!

    Behind us, there was a man who took off his shoes every time we got back on the bus. You can’t even imagine how bad the shole bus smelled!!! I almost vomited! I had wet desinfection tissues with me and I kept on using them and smelling them!!! That was a nightmare trip. I couldn’t wait till we arrived to hotel each night!

  • Ashley Mwape

    So far, I’ve been to India, Guatemala and Spain. I’m going to Zambia and Botswana in December. The next three places on my list…oh gosh…I want to go everywhere. But..the next three places would have to be London (even though I’ve been to the airport), Paris, and Greece or Italy.

  • Rachel Woods

    Flying makes me anxious, I’m not a big fan but I can deal with it. Anyway three places I’d love to go (in no particular order):

    1) Alaska

    2) Poland

    3) Egypt

  • Kiwi


  • michele richardson

    Grown woman who wear pajama pants on airplanes.

    you are out in public….I mean at the very least put on a pair of sweats!

  • eva katsoudas

    New Zealand – my mom lived there for several years as a teenager and the pictures she has are amazing.

    France- expecially Paris.

    Dubai- all the pictures i’ve seen look incredible.

    I would also love to visit Tokyo, Japan too but if I could visit the first three places I would be happy.

  • Sung-Yeh Nordquist

    Whoa 30 hours! LOL lazy Larry… And 3 locations maybe 1.Okinawa, Japan 2.South Korea and 3.Italy

  • Alicia Field

    I would love to visit; Italy, Australia and Alaska!!!!

  • Sana kay

    – London, England

    – Los Angeles, California

    – Milan, Italy

  • Katrin Ahrens

    I find it incredibly annoying when you are in the middle or at a window seat and the person closest to the aisle or the two people you have to get past don’t get up to let you out and you either sit on their laps or straddle them on your way out. 3 locations I would go to are 1.) Cyprus 2.) Australia 3.) Iceland.

  • tizzchen tiz

    my favourite (next) three destinations would be:

    – san francisco (been to)

    – new york

    – and panama (been to)

    on airplane etiquette…i’ve had to fly a lot in the last 3 years because of a relationship and i can only tell you so much. I’VE LEARNED A LOT haha :)

    for example i always use the restrooms before entering the plane, only because i don’t want to have to make everyone get up afterwards (i prefer window seating). what i also think should be normal is helping each other when the food trays come and the flight attendants pick up trash. as not to lean over everyone and have a mishap and letting it fall or so 😉 and one thing i’ll never get is why people in the back always want to get out first. i mean, just sit down girl, you’ll get out don’t worry :)

    for the rest, i can only agree to all of your points lauren!

  • Maureen Feltz

    Another tip: only take up as much overhead space as you’re really entitled to. Just because there are a lot of empty overhead bins when YOU get on the plane, does not mean you can shove your carry-on, giant purse and coat/scarf/etc. into the bin above you. Like Lauren said, space is at a premium and there’s a reason why you’re only allowed one carry-on (for overhead) and a small bag that should fit under the seat in front of you. And if you have a coat, use it as a blanket in your lap if it’s a short flight. If not, try putting it underneat the seat in front of you too. Happy Travels! :)

    My three destinations for the near future:

    1. Hawaii

    2. Italy

    3. Germany

  • Meagan Carlisle

    I would want to visit places like England and Italy, but I would also want to go to somewhere like or around Africa and live as a native for a while.. A huge dream of mine!

  • Chastity Martin

    This is a tough one. But off hand, I’m thinking:



    3–All over Europe

  • Liesl

    I just wrote about the TOP 10 Countries I want to visit:

    As I travel a lot myself, I do appreciate these travel tips! Now I just need everyone else in the world to read this blog post, too! 😉

    Liesl xxx

  • Vivien Harmat

    I love to travel but I actually don’t hate anything more than flying so thanks for the tips :)

  • Taylor Bonar

    This blog is so spot on – so many people have such little respect for those around them it makes it so unpleasant to travel anymore!

    I have actually been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit around the world but if I could go now, my next three destinations would be:

    1. Switzerland 2. Jamaica 3. Alaska

    xoxo, Taylor

  • Leanne

    I’ve already planned my next trip!

    Austria, Hungary and Czech Republic! So excited.

    Love from South Africa

  • Valera Ved

    L.A., Paris, Tokyo :)

    Great Tips!

  • Claudia Merrill

    Great tips! Definately Paris, Milan and Vancouver. My favourite holiday spots! :) xo

  • Laura Martinez

    Great advice :)

  • Maggie Hubele

    I am terrified of flying but traveling out weighs all of the fear! I do have a large respect for all of the people who have sat next to me and calmed me down when I get scared!! I always wanted to go to Australia, so in December I moved here! I would love to see New Zealand, Japan, and go on Safari in Africa!

  • soupforthegirlysoul
  • Ida Rindom

    I’ve been on many long plane rides and have had issues like the ones you mention… these are amazing tips (and should be in the flight info or something like that!)

    I would go to So-Cal (favorite places in the world so far!!), Greek Islands (always wanted to go) and South Africa.

  • Audrey B.

    France, England and Hawaii : )

  • Kelby Peachey

    My husband and I were talking about saving money for a trip around the world. :) My top three picks are:

    1) Taj Mahal

    2) Machu Picchu

    3) Great Barrier Reef!!

  • Lily P.

    I’d love to go in New York,in Argentina and in Spain :)

  • Camille


    #7 is a big one. Over the summer, I flew to DC to visit my best friend. Right after take off, this family behind me pulled out their McDonald’s happy meals and it was so rude and discourteous. It especially bothered me because I get motion sickness and certain smells just send me over the edge. Luckily I didn’t throw up I arrived just fine!!




  • Tiffani Stuart

    I would love to visit

    * Greece

    * Italy

    * Laguna Beach & Los Angeles :0)

    * Cabo St. Lucas

    * Africa (Tanzania or South Africa)

    * Dubai

    * Brazil.=

    Sorry, I don’t have just 3!!

    Internationally, I’ve been to London, England & Barbados. They both were amazing experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything!

  • Tiziana Reunis

    I realy want to go to New York or LA, Japan, Mexico again and I want to traval around Africa

    travailling is so great but the manners of some people –>horrible

  • Marie

    If I could go three places I would go to

    1. Morroco

    2. New York City

    3. Costa Rica

  • Carlitz Luevanos

    lol :) I read the Hunger Games on my trip too :)

  • Brittani Dunn

    As a Frequent Flyer (I fly to and from LA about once a month) I think all these are great little reminders for every flyer. There is nothing worse than sharing a 5 hour flight with someone inconsiderate. My last flight to LA was such a nice and joyful experience. I sat next to some of the most well behaved 5, 2 and 14 month old children I’ve ever met. My flight back home I can’t even begin to say how unjoyable it was. I was already in a bad mood (I commute so often because my boyfriend is in the military, until I can move out there we try and make a visit for once a month. going is enjoyable, leaving, not so much) and the man next to me not only took the armrest but had his hand/half his arm hanging over my side, spread his legs out onto my side and I mean his feet were under where literally under my legs and I guess his parents never taught him to cover his mouth when he coughed! Hopefully I won’t have another one of those for the rest of my traveling days!!

  • Shellz

    great post! the tips were very helpful..I would love to go to Japan, Romania and France!

  • Alyssa Tomasic

    Check out my blog post for my travel tips as well and to see where im traveling in the next few months!

  • lol

    1. Paris 2. New York 3. Venice

  • Melissa Fernandez

    Those are just the perfect tips for plane travelling, i just may add a little one.

    In my country, Colombia, there are some people that have the need to applaud after the plane touches the land, or in the worst case of all the sing the national Anthem and is just sooo anoying.

    So if you are glad that you landed please don’t make it sooo obvious or loud.

  • Leah Dooley

    I fly to Japan every year, and I’d say just remember everyone is as uncomfortable as you are! If there’s a crying baby, sure it’s not ideal, but think how embarrassed and frantic the mother is. Also, remember to thank the flight attendants. They have to deal with all the cranky passengers. :)

  • E G

    I think some of these rules apply also to train and bus trips. I hate being on a confined space with people who don’t care about hygiene or are eating food. It would be so much more pleasant if people would just mind their basic manners!
    1. London
    2. New York
    3. Beijing or Tokyo

  • Gchang

    Agree 100%, Lauren! Hope you don’t run into one of these guys on your next trip:

    My top 3: Australia, South Africa, Greece

  • Lily T.

    Another one I would add: Do not put your personal item as well as your carry on in the over head bin.

  • Amanda Wheeler

    I have only been on one trip on a plane before from New Brunswick Canada (where I live) to Ottawa and back. I was terrified of flying but most seemed to be great about it. I found having window seats helped me a lot. However on my flight home I went to go to my seat to find somebody else was sitting there. I was as polite as possible and said ” O I am sorry, I think that is my seat?” the guy turned and said “Well can’t you just sit somewhere else?!” Not being used to traveling on planes I didn’t know what to do so I again was as polite as possible and said “I’m sorry, I would rather just stick to my assigned seat.” I am not sure if his etiquette was bad, ornif mine was? Is it comming for people to do this? What do you do? I was nervous enough about flying that I really just wanted the little comfort of sitting at my window seat.

  • Alisa B

    Reclining airplane seats should be internationally illegal!



for a front-row VIP pass to all things lovely and chic. Sign up today for exclusive tips straight from Lauren, a chance to win monthly giveaways, and so much more.

sign up