Ten Commandments for Flying

I have flown over two million miles, and I have witnessed so many weird, dumb, and rude things while flying. But I have also witnessed many good and noble things. I recently saw a person give up his seat to a soldier who was on standby. The soldier was returning from Afghanistan and had not seen his family in over a year.

So with the perspective of the good, the bad, and the ugly, I have devised my own ten commandments for flying. Some are positive and some are, well, not.

  1. Thou shall be kind to your fellow passengers. Everyone has struggles and problems. A kind word can make a world of difference.
  2. Thou shall not talk loudly on your cell phone during those times you are permitted to talk. We are glad you love your spouse and that the burger was great, but that’s not for the world to know.
  3. Thou shall help elderly passengers and others who need assistance. Traveling for many is a big physical burden. Help lighten their burden.
  4. Thou shall not wear heavy perfume or cologne. If the passenger next to you is gagging, you know you overdid it.
  5. Thou shall be kind to young moms who have crying children. These moms are stressed and don’t need your indignation to stress them further.
  6. Thou shall not eat smelly foods on the plane. Not only do the foods smell, flatulence typically follows.
  7. Thou shall make certain your carry-on luggage fits in the overhead bins.  We may be delayed as the flight attendants take your luggage and check it in.
  8. Thou shall not take off your shoes during the flight. You may think it’s comfortable, but the rest of the passengers will be tempted to find the nearest midair exit.
  9. Thou shall fly only when you’re healthy. Otherwise the recycled air will deliver your influenza germs to all the passengers.
  10. Thou shall not make dumb comments that include words like "bomb," "gun," "hijack," or "terrorist." If thou does make those dumb comments, be prepared to spend time with a lot of new friends in confined quarters.

So what do you think of my ten commandments? What would you change? What would you add?


  1. Robert F. Montgomery says

    I really like your list. You are on target. I would amend number four to state NO perfume or cologne. Both make me gag in an open setting; it’s really bad on a plane.

  2. says

    Say something pleasant and conversational to your seat neighbor. If they are so inclined, they may prefer chatting with you, to spending the flight listening to the engines. This has led me to many fascinating conversations with a wide range of folks over the years.

  3. Rick says

    Thou shalt not pass thy fear of flying onto thy neighbor. If thou must panic and realize thou started memorizing verses on fear and God’s sovereignty too late, thou shouldst visit thy doctor before flying.

  4. Steve Drake says

    13. Thou shalt not place your carry on baggage in the first open bin you pass and then proceed to the rear of the plane so that people who sit beneath the bin you filled must take their carry on baggage to the rear of the plane and then at the destination wait until everyone has deplaned to go to the rear of the plane to fetch their baggage just so you could walk baggage-less until you reached the front of the cab to collect your baggage.
    14. Thou shalt not write run on sentences.

  5. Brian B. says

    I’m going to push back on #9. It’s very likely the individual paid for tickets at least a few weeks in advance and had no idea they might be sick the day of travel. It’s also likely that the ticket is non-refundable. It’s not really fair of you to ask someone to forfeit their money or their trip just so you can avoid a few germs.
    You also don’t know why any particular person is flying. Perhaps the individual is making a last minute trip to be with his or her father just before a major surgical procedure such as a quadruple bypass. Maybe the individual is on their way to a funeral or to visit their grandmother who has been placed in hospice and given only a few days to live. Maybe the individual is on their way to pick up a child they are in the process of adopting after trying for several years to conceive and adopt. Maybe the individual has been unemployed for an extended period of time and is on their way to the first interview they’ve been granted in months. The hypotheticals could go on endlessly.
    There are myriad reasons an individual might be flying and many of them are time sensitive and not so easily changed because someone got a cold the night before their flight. Many people can’t afford to forfeit their tickets due to an obviously unexpected illness.
    Many of your rules are indeed common courtesy, but your number 9 shows a surprising disregard and lack of compassion for your fellow passenger, the vast majority of whom you have no idea the circumstances in their life that would cause them to step on that plane despite their coughing and sneezing.

  6. says

    Brian beat me to it. People can’t avoid flying when sick. Not with the current airline penalties for changing tickets.
    And the “recycled air” myth is just that. The worst germs on the plane are not in the air; they are in the seat back pocket and the tray table. It’s not what you breathe, it’s what you touch.

  7. says

    No, sorry. I’m taking my shoes off. My flights are 11 1/2 hours and it’s neither
    practical nor comfortable to keep them on for so many hours. I actually bring another pair, specifically for the plane but get rid of that rule.
    Replace it with something to do with armrests and dumping bags in overheads in the front of the aircraft.

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