What Is Proper Airplane Passenger Etiquette During Holiday Travel?

Gillian Sisley

Should passengers cut one another more slack during this stressful season, or should they still protect their boundaries and personal space, even if it causes more hassle on a flight?

Flying is already an uncomfortable and unenjoyable experience. This fact has only been heightened by pandemic restrictions. And with Christmas just a little over a week away, more and more people will be boarding planes to make it to loved ones.

In fact, surveys show that 85 million Americans will travel to see family over the holidays. We can expect the same from this Christmas season.

Of those traveling via plane, the fact that we're still in the midst of a global pandemic makes a difference for many. Surveys show that 52% of respondents feel uncomfortable with flying right now.

It's safe to say that emotions are already high while being on airplanes -- combine that stress along with the holiday season and a pandemic to boot, and flyers are certainly on edge. Some individuals are taking their grievances to the online space to speak out about their frustrating experiences while travelling during holiday seasons.

Who is entitled to which space on an airplane?

One such account comes from a woman, who goes by username u/brownshout, whose post went mega viral on Reddit. With over 47,000 upvotes, the title of the photo published was, "the joys of international travel" and it has picked up significant traction. It gives a visual cue to ask the question, "which space belongs to which passenger".

In the picture, a young woman takes a photo of the floor directly under her seat. The passenger behind her pushes his feet into her space. Completely barefooted, the behind passenger's crooked toes and yellow toenails

Regardless of the discussion of which space rightfully belongs to who, users in the comment section can definitively agree that hygiene should always be considered when flying with other people. And to take off ones shoes and socks, and them push them into the space of the passenger in front of them, crosses a social line.

Is protecting your personal boundaries the most important thing while flying?

A study from 2019 found that 88% of surveyed adults reported their stress levels go up during the holiday season. This study was conducted of 2,000 respondents. That stress comes with less leniency in uncomfortable situations, and a shorter tempers under pressure, even with the smallest of things.

However, data also shows that holiday stress affects women more than men, leaving women far more on edge and uncomfortable already heading into Christmas. Add travelling to that mix, and all parties are already out of their comfort zone.

That said, data has already shown that statistically women are better behaved passengers than men while on planes, which begs the question of whether or not men are permitted to more frequently misbehave aboard planes and not be held accountable for it.

What do you think? Was the woman justified in saying something to the man? Or should she have just kept to herself and not bothered him at all?

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