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Social Etiquette: Grooming & Protocol in the Air (1) 


Janet Adetu

Flying can be a pleasant experience or an uncomfortable ordeal altogether. Many times when you touch down and finally reach your destination the first thing someone says to you is:

“How was your flight?”

I usually may say great, good, or just OK, this depends very much on how comfortable I was on the flight in terms of my ability to sleep, the food I was served, the smoothness of the flight and finally my experience with fellow travellers and the air hostesses. Grooming and Protocol in the air is just as important as it is on ground, your etiquette skills and manners are put to test when you have to deal with long haul flights, various stopovers, limited space, unexpected delays, grumpy passengers and people’s flying temper tantrums.

Even when you are embarking on a short journey that is just an hour flight, you will experience the same emotions as someone else going on a twelve-hour long haul flight. It starts from the check-in counter right through to boarding gate – there are no real short cuts to travelling procedures. It takes a lot of patience, discipline and courteousness to embark on a flight without getting upset by one thing or the other, the smallest incident can trip you off if you are not careful.

I remember one early morning on a long distance flight I had completed all check-in requirements and moved to settle in the lounge for a bite before departure. As I entered the lounge I was told immediately that they would not be announcing flight departures so I would need to keep watching the notice board. At first I felt this was no problem after all I was responsible for my own departure I could handle that. Unfortunately at the time the boarding gate was still yet to be released now making this a big ordeal. I still smiled and settled down knowing fully well that I would hardly be relaxing. My surprise was the lack of customer service offered; there was nothing like “have a pleasant flight or enjoy your stay.”

As if that wasn’t enough, I decided to leave for the gate early not to miss my flight. I sat at the boarding gate for another 10 minutes along with other passengers when finally the flight attendants were ready to board us. As soon as the announcement was made I noticed many people rushing forward, what was creating the big rush I wondered as the flight was well on schedule. For convenience I was in the fast track lane along with many others, our queue was moving quite smoothly; suddenly I decided to bend down for a second to adjust my buckle. In that second the women behind me decided to walk right past me and barge right in front of the queue. I calmly finished what I was doing and walked to claim my place. My first response was “excuse me,” I expected a smile and for her to allow me back in line after all it was just a matter of seconds.

Her response was so abrupt and unexpected as she blurted out – “do you want me to wait?” I looked at her demeanour, appearance and aggressiveness the little energy she exerted for no just reason. It goes without saying that she left me with such a bad impression that easily could have been avoided if she had protected her image. What was wrong with her waiting for a second or for her time? Why again the rush?

Manners and politeness are a choice you make, it can save you time, keep you morally and intellectually in check and boost your reputation. The lack of it will instantly sabotage your image; you never know who knows you in public places especially when flying, do not be caught off guard. If you want to receive courtesy and respect, you will first need to show it to others.

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