Q: Seats at airport gates are often connected to one another -- they're like big benches with armrests every so often. This means that if one person in the row does something that moves the chairs, everyone will feel it. I recently was sitting in a row with a young woman who would not stop tapping her foot on the armrest. (She had headphones on, so perhaps it was in tune to music?) It was so annoying that I finally changed seats. Could you please remind people to be thoughtful about things like this?
A: Sure. When you're traveling, you're often forced to be in close proximity to strangers. That means it's very easy to annoy them. Tapping your foot and shaking a whole row of people is a great example of this. In your case, changing seats solved the problem, and I'm glad. But if all the seats were full, you could have caught the other passenger's eye and said, quietly, "I'm sorry, but that shakes the whole bench. Would you mind stopping?" I bet she wasn't even aware she was doing it.
Q: What do you suggest should be done when an airplane boards passengers seated in the back of the plane first, and those passengers put their carry-on bags in overhead storage in the front? Where do the people in the front rows put their bags? Shouldn't the flight attendants watch for that, and tell the offenders to take their bags back to their own rows? It's a real problem with full flights.
A: It makes getting off the plane take forever, because half the passengers have to force their way "upstream" to retrieve their bags. If a flight attendant happened to spot someone with a boarding pass for row 25 stick his suitcase above row 5, it would be great if the attendant told the passenger to take it to the back instead. But I don't think the flight attendants could actively police this, because they have too many other things to do during preparation for takeoff.
What I have seen -- just yesterday, in fact -- is JetBlue gate agents asking if anyone would volunteer to check their bag because the flight was full. It costs $40 to do this at the airport check-in desk, but volunteers didn't have to pay. Several passengers took them up on their offer. The downside (to me) is that you'd have to retrieve your bag at baggage claim, rather than on the jet way as you do with a gate check, so I didn't volunteer. But if I had already checked a bag and would be going to baggage claim anyway, and I didn't need anything in my carry-on during the flight, I would absolutely have volunteered. I'd love to see more airlines start doing this.
Email travel-etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin@deartripadvisor.com