When you first sit down on a flight for a business trip (or any trip), you usually can tell in the first few minutes if you have a good seatmate or not. For some, that means being silently polite. For others, that means someone who is happy to participate in a little mild chitter chatter and then shuts up when you want to go to sleep. But for most of us, it just means wanting to avoid that horribly impolite person with no respect for others — and terrible hygiene.
However, plane etiquette can be very different depending on what part of the world you are from. British Airways surveyed 1,500 travelers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy recently and got some very different answers when it came to acceptable plane behavior.
To talk or not to talk?
When it comes to chatting, 83% of travelers prefer to just say “hi” to their neighbor and then have silence so they can go to sleep or do other things quietly (Germans are especially supportive of the “Hello and that’s it” rule.) If you are hoping to have a conversation with your seatmate, you’ll want to end up next to someone who’s Italian (80% approve of small talk) or French (they view flights as an opportunity to make new friends), but not American. Only 40% of U.S. travelers think it is unacceptable to share personal stories.
Ahh, the classic who gets the armrest debate. Nearly 70% say it is best to take one armrest and leave the other free for your neighbor. However, that gets a little tricky as 45% of Americans and British travelers believe the first come, first serve rule applies here. Hopefully, you end up next to a French person as they are two times more likely to avoid the armrest altogether.
Shoe removal on planes
Luckily, the majority of people (87%) agree that taking off your socks is unacceptable, but surprisingly, Americans are less likely to think that removing your shoes is OK (60%) than Brits (78%).
While two-thirds of respondents think etiquette says you should let sleeping neighbors lie (even if their snoring sounds like Darth Vader), 11% of Americans would poke someone to try and quiet them while 20% of British people would “accidentally” nudge their snoring neighbor. Sneaky!
One of the trickiest things on a plane, unless you have the coveted aisle seat, is getting up and having to awkwardly climb over someone who seems to be in a sleep coma. The majority of travelers (80%) think it is just fine to wake your neighbor up if you need to use the restroom, but 33% will just climb over you (face-to-face is the preferred method) if they need to get out.
One thing globally agreed upon was that if you need to get some work done, and are using an electronic device, you should dim your screen once the cabin lights go out.
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