The 10-ish commandments of air travel – according to the experts

Jetting around the world is only possible because of a long list of rules and regulations. Without weight limits on baggage, for example, the plane literally couldn’t get off the ground. And just imagine the injuries if seatbelts weren’t mandatory. 

Clearly, as much as we like to complain about having our freedoms limited, the guidelines serve a purpose. 

But for anyone who travels often, these are merely the basics. Ask any frequent flyer, and you’ll find they also have their own set of regulations, self-imposed and usually unspoken. Until now. 

Running the gamut from common sense through to borderline insanity, these are the in-flight rules that can make or break a journey. 

Introducing TND’s 11 commandments of air travel.

Thou shalt not … forget to clean the seat area first

“In 2019, supermodel Naomi Campbell went viral for her fastidious pre-flight seat-cleaning procedures. Then came COVID and we all suddenly got it. Airlines claim to have better cleaning procedures now, but it doesn’t hurt to take extra precautions. I always pay special attention to the seat pocket; a 2018 CBC Marketplace investigation found it’s one of the dirtiest spots on the plane, with the presence of mould and E. coli. (Where else do you think parents put their kids’ dirty nappies mid-flight?)” Jessica Lockhart, Destination Editor Oceania, Lonely Planet 

Champagne on plane

How the other half live. Photo: Getty

Thou shalt not engage with Business Class

“The walk through Business en route to Economy is unacceptable, to me. It’s such a perfect Mean Girls move from the airline, that I almost admire it. (“You can’t sit with us.”) And so, while shuffling past those lovely spacious seats, my eyes stay high. I never look down to see what I’m missing and I certainly don’t make eye contact with the champagne-sipping passengers. I don’t need their pity.” Ceri David, TND Travel Editor

Thou shalt not use the on-board wifi

“I have to work double time before and after a trip to catch up, so I always allow myself some reprieve by ignoring any online connectivity that’s offered. Having this precious time to myself acts as a great circuit breaker between the normal hustle bustle of life, and hitting the ground at the other end, ready for adventure.” Greg Mangos, Director, Travel Utopia

Thou shalt not … wait for the regular meal service

“I always order a ‘special’ meal, like vegetarian or pescatarian, because it’s always delivered first, often long before everyone else. It means you can finish, get up and use the bathroom while everyone else is eating, and get started on a nap.” Natascha Mirosch, Travel Writer

Airplane meal

Oh, for the golden age of travel, when the meal was a highlight of the trip. Photo: Getty

Thou shalt not … chat with your neighbour

“After a hectic dash to the airport, finding a park and getting through security, this is my time for peace and quiet. I make it known, through polite body language and putting headphones on – immediately – that I am not interested in chit chat. I’m not being rude, but please don’t talk to me.” Louise Talbot, TND Entertainment Editor

Thou shalt not board before you have to

I’m always one of the last to board. Everyone seems to scramble to get on as soon as they can, but that just means queues. There’s really no need. Instead, I’m reading my book, having a chat with my travel companion, or just taking a minute to meditate and breathe. It clears my head and makes all the difference to my flight experience. I also enjoy that it’s like having a rock star entry.” Jo Palmer, Managing Director, Gate 7 

Thou shalt not … choose a seat without good intel

“I always research the aircraft, and cross-reference with, to steer clear of anything with a cramped bulkhead or without a window. I also prefer smaller cabins, as they’re quieter and you get quicker, more personalised service. And even then, I’ll always ask at check-in if there’s anything better available, which might have been blocked prior.” Stephen Howard, Group Director of Marketing, Ovolo Hotels

Reclining on plane

Increasing your own personal space only comes by stealing someone else’s. Photo: Getty

Thou shalt not … recline without due care

“I’m mindful of how much it impinges the comfort of others, so even on international flights, I always wait until the lights are off and it’s obviously sleep time. As for domestic flights, I think reclining is just unnecessary.” Neil Frankland, TND Editor

Thou shalt not … sit by the window

“Maybe I like my freedom too much, but the thought of having to scramble over a stranger – excuse me, excuse me, sorry, whoops – just to get to the toilet doesn’t bear thinking about. Even worse, being trapped and left to stare at the tarmac from my window seat if they’re tardy leaving at the end of the flight. Nope. Give me the aisle every time – with the bonus of a cheeky place to stretch my legs.” Carley Olley, TND Deputy Editor

Airline safety demonstration

So that’s where the phrase ‘exit strategy’ came from. Photo: Getty

Thou shalt not ignore the safety briefing

“I always count exactly how many rows are between me and the emergency exit, which probably says a lot about my personality. I fly interstate at least once a month, and nothing’s ever gone wrong, but it’s better to be prepared. Which is why I always text my wife before take off to tell her I love her, just in case.” Paul Hutchinson, frequent business traveller

Thou shalt not fly without headphones and a playlist

“Quality headphones are key when travelling. And I have rain and white noise soundtracks downloaded, which gives some consistency to my rest no matter where I am in the world.” Todd Lacey, Regional Manager for Oceania, 


Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.