Most of us could learn a thing or two about being better air passengers — fresh evidence of bad behavior in the increasingly unfriendly skies is now delivered daily, if not hourly, to our social media feeds and news sources.
How about this for a simple way to end the nonstop inflight insanity — everyone be more like a pilot when they travel.
Well, most pilots, anyway.
Maybe you’ve seen these wing-wearing men and women grabbing the empty seat in your row from time to time, and perhaps you’ve noticed the relaxed approach they typically take to what, for the rest of us, can be an anxious-making ordeal.
Follow their lead — they know what to do.
A handful of flyguys and gals spoke to HuffPost about how the rest of us can fly smarter, not harder — as well as what behaviors these seasoned professionals would never dream of giving into, as a passenger on some one else’s plane.
Here, five do’s and don’ts to commit to memory.
Never go to the bathroom without putting your shoes back on
“Many passengers understandably take their shoes off when seated for comfort during the flight, but I always make sure to wear shoes when using the bathroom,” said Stefán Dór Arnarsson, a pilot at PLAY, an Icelandic airline.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s seen the inside of an airplane lav — the floors can be soaking wet with water — and goodness knows else.
“I’d never go to the bathroom barefoot,” Michelle Gooris, a charter airline pilot and blogger at Dutch Pilot Girl. “How crazy is that?”
Never stand up before the plane reaches the gate — here’s why
“I’d never stand up in the aisle when the plane is not at the gate yet and the fasten seatbelt is still on,” said Gooris. “Even though this seems common sense, you’d be surprised how many times passengers do stand up before the aircraft arrives at the gate.”
Undoing your buckle while the plane is still taxiing — and the seatbelt light is on — is an illegal act. And dangerous, too. That’s because a pilot might have to suddenly hit the brakes to yield to unexpected cross traffic.
“You can imagine when people would be standing in the aisle, they’d have a high chance of getting injured,” Gooris pointed out.
Never freak over turbulence — the plane is built to handle worse
“Turbulence is an annoyance for most, but the airplane will not fall out of the sky,” said pilot Jeanie Carter of Wheels Up, a private aviation company.
“And it’s typically not dangerous at all as long as you follow the flight crew instructions — stay seated and wear your seatbelt when asked to do so,” she said.
For the uninitiated, turbulence can be a worry. But you just need to think of it in relative terms, Carter suggested.
“I liken turbulence to riding in a boat,” she said. “In the boat you can see the waves as you are bouncing along. Air is a fluid just like water, but in the air you are unable to see the ‘waves.’ It’s perfectly safe and the airplane can handle it.”
Don’t put both bags in the overhead bin.
“Early in my career, on commercial flights I tossed both bags in the overhead bin and thought nothing more of it, until one of the last passengers to board looked so dejected when there was no room for his suitcase in overhead,” confessed Carter.
Nowadays, breaking the rules and carrying on as much of your baggage as possible seems to be the norm — with most passengers headed straight for the closest overhead bin with any kind of room. Don’t be like that, experienced flyers warn.
“Since that day, I now always keep that backpack under the seat in front of me,” Carter said. “If everyone would do that one small thing, it would make travel so much easier for everyone.”
When you’re asked to open the window shade, do it
“I never keep the window shade closed for takeoff or landing,” pilot and blogger Mindy Lindheim told HuffPost.
“Not only does it give the best views to appreciate, but it also allows passengers to be an extra set of eyes! The pilots cannot see much of the wings from the cockpit, so a passenger could be the first to see something abnormal and notify flight crew,” she said.
Not that you should spend the entire flight waiting for catastrophe to strike.
“We pilots prepare for the worst, but it is uncommon to encounter,” assured Lindheim.
“The drive to the airport is much more dangerous than the flight.”