Has Travel Etiquette Flown Away?

Flying isn't like the old days. Has air travel etiquette flown away in modern times?

Travel etiquette. Is it a dying art?

This thought struck me on a recent overseas flight. The topic was front and centre in Air Canada’s En Route in-flight magazine, in the article The Ultimate Guide to Travel Etiquette.

The article covered the ways in which travellers could be better, more polite human beings while travelling, and included tips like; check your bags, keep your hotel room neat & tidy, be respectful to service personnel, and share those arm rests. Nice reminders of ways to travel better, really. [Although I personally don’t check my one small suitcase unless I’m bringing home litres of maple syrup.]

Ironically, also on this flight, we experienced a traveller’s worst nightmare on a transatlantic flight. A baby crying. Non-stop. For over six hours.

What made this situation truly intolerable was not the baby crying. I’ve been there myself, and it’s awful. As a parent, you feel helpless and guilty. However, what made things so much worse was that the parents did nothing, absolutely nothing, to mitigate this child’s pain, much less the pain of all of those passengers affected by the crying and screaming. They allowed it to continue on into a very long night, and it was truly unbearable; one of the worst flights I’ve ever experienced in 40 years of air travel.

This situation illustrates not so much a lack of etiquette (which sounds so genteel), as a total lack of respect for fellow travellers and people in general. The parents’ lack of action, of planning for such contingencies (i.e. packing meds & supplies), and unwillingness to do anything to mitigate the situation, was mystifying at best and irresponsible and harmful to those unlucky enough to be on the same flight, including their own child.

This Golden Rule – be respectful of others – should really be at the top of any Guide to Travel Etiquette, in my book.

Whether you’re travelling with or without children.

Photo Credit: modernmechanix.com

Have you experienced rudeness on the road or in the air? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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