Is it OK to ask someone to un-recline their seat? Etiquette expert William Hanson’s guide to a well-mannered holiday (as the best-behaved nationalities abroad are revealed)
- William Hanson covers a range of issues, from seat kicking to toiletry stealing
- According to Mr Hanson, much can be achieved by being firm and polite
- A major travel site has produced an Airplane and Hotel Etiquette study
The general idea of a holiday is to enter a state of relaxation.
And yet there are so many opportunities throughout the experience for the blood pressure to soar, from negotiating airport security to dealing with someone kicking your seat on the plane.
But worry not, because London-based etiquette expert William Hanson is here to make sure you have a fluster-free getaway. He has advice on all the above and much more. And has even committed his thoughts to a handy video.
London-based etiquette expert William Hanson (pictured) is here to make sure you have a fluster-free getaway
‘Always be prepared’ is his first piece of counsel.
He says: ‘Have your mobile boarding pass ready and easily to hand at all the key stages of your holiday journey. That’s check-in, security, if buying airport shopping, and when boarding. Like a coiled spring, be poised to proffer your device at these points so you don’t hold up the growing queue behind.’
He has advice for the security lanes, too.
He continues: ‘No one loves security checks, but they are a necessity. You can ease your own experience, and that of others, by choosing some suitable, clever clothing to wear before you leave for the airport. Avoid anything that’s overly laced, strapped or cannily fixed to your person so you can deftly remove it within a moment’s notice.’
Next, getting on a plane without ruffling feathers.
He says: ‘We don’t want to be a queue jumper now, do we? Even inadvertently. Take note of any boarding numbers on your boarding pass and listen to announcements made as to when and where to board. The flight hasn’t even begun yet so annoying your rule-conscious fellow passengers at such an early stage probably isn’t a recipe for in-air harmony. If it says you’re group five, you’re group five, okay? Five does not go into one.’
Now you’re on board, it’s time to decide whether you’re going to recline your seat…
Mr Hanson says: ‘It’s the classic long-haul issue – when to recline your seat. If a meal service is taking place then wait until this has been delivered and cleared before you kick back. Well, we don’t want to actually kick back, it’s more an apologetic glance behind to check the person at the rear isn’t going to be concussed by your sudden slanting.’
Mr Hanson says: ‘It’s the classic long-haul issue – when to recline your seat. If a meal service is taking place then wait until this has been delivered and cleared before you kick back’
And he stresses that it’s completely acceptable to ask someone to un-recline their seat. ‘Just remember to do so with the utmost politeness,’ he says.
If you’re a ‘plane sleeper’ in the aisle or middle seat, he continues, it would be a good idea to let your neighbour know it’s OK to nudge you if they want to get out. ‘This can help minimise any worry they may be having about disturbing you,’ he says.
Meanwhile, if your journey is being disturbed by someone kicking your seat, here’s what to do – ‘politely turn around and ask them to refrain’, says Mr Hanson.
He adds: ‘It’s all about your toes and body language: if you swivel round suddenly and snap then there’s less chance your plea will work. But a polite smile with some firm words and a word of thanks at the end should hopefully work.’
At the end of the journey, Mr Hanson says, ‘be sure to make eye contact and thank the crew for their time and service’.
He continues: ‘This is common courtesy that regrettably is far from common these days. The same goes for all service staff throughout your trip. It may be a holiday for you but we are never on holiday from good manners.’
For your hotel stay Mr Hanson dispenses this advice: It’s fine to take home the shampoo and body wash in your room, ‘but the towels, bedding and furniture must stay put’.
Mr Hanson produced his etiquette guide in partnership with Expedia, which has produced an Airplane and Hotel Etiquette study – ‘a global report that dives into travellers’ preferences, behaviours and pet peeves’.
It found that Americans (42 per cent) are the most willing to change their seats, while the Dutch (21 per cent) and Japanese (nine per cent) are the least likely.
The Japanese (13 per cent) are the most sensitive to their neighbours because they are the least likely to bring strong-smelling foods on flights. On the other hand, Indians (31 per cent) and Americans (30 per cent) are less likely to care.
The most generous when it comes to illness, offering a tissue or cough drop, are Austrians (57 per cent). Japanese (19 per cent) are much less likely to lend a helping hand to a sneezing neighbour.
On the issue of unruly passengers, the study found that the French (61 per cent) are the most likely to confront seat kickers directly. Austrians (60 per cent) get straight to the point and ask a passenger hogging the armrest to make room for them. Indians are most likely to come to the defence of flight attendants who are the victim of rude passengers and Brits would simply like to keep calm and carry on, with 40 per cent ignoring passengers being rude towards flight attendants.
The top five most annoying flight passengers, according to the study, are the drunk passenger (43 per cent), followed by the seat kicker/bumper/grabber (37 per cent), the germ spreader (30 per cent), the aromatic passenger (29 per cent) and the inattentive parent (29 per cent).
The study was conducted on behalf of Expedia by Northstar Research Partners, a global strategic research firm. The survey was conducted online from April 12-29, 2019, across North America, Europe, South America and Asia-Pacific using an amalgamated group of ‘best-in-class panels’. The study was conducted among 18,237 respondents across 23 countries.
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