Last week, news broke that a flight leaving Halifax, Nova Scotia destined for the Dominican Republic was diverted to Bermuda when three of the passengers on board were found to be smoking, then verbally abusive with the flight crew. The passengers were arrested,  fined and are returning home on another airline. The airline has since stated how it intends to deal with the passengers.

I’ve been unreasonably angry about this incident for a couple of reasons:

  1. This behaviour was completely disrespectful, particularly to the flight crew responsible for their safety and the other travellers who were looking forward to starting their holiday; and,
  2. It’s 2013, you don’t get to do whatever you want on an airplane any more.

It’s time for a difficult conversation.

Smoking was banned on Canadian domestic flights in 1989, and has been banned on international flights originating in Canada since 1994. It continues to be a standard part of flight safety announcements before a flight departs and there is signage everywhere. The fact you cannot smoke on airplane is not new information.

Believe it or not, this isn’t about the smoking.

It’s about courtesy. It’s about making the flying experience safe and tolerable for everyone for the length of time you are crammed in a high-speed metal tube together.

Since 9/11, flying has become increasingly unpleasant. Fewer airlines, smaller seats, no amenties, invasive security screening, extra fees for everything from checking bags to breathing in the air, and customer service nightmares mean the smallest amount of courtesy in the air is gratefully received and encouraged.

Some things can’t be helped, like snoring or having to use the bathroom every 45 minutes. Some things can, like talking loudly, clipping your nails, grabbing the seat in front of you every time you have to get up and countless other antisocial behaviours.

I thought this was an unspoken rule, but apparently it needs articulating:

As a flyer, the very least you can do is not make a flight more unpleasant for other fliers.

Let us take this as a call to arms, an aggressive re-embracing of courtesy and civility in flight. Thank people profusely for good behaviour and be less tolerant of bad behaviour. (Within reason, don’t do anything illegal or unsafe). We can do this, people!

Please share in the comments, what can we do to make flying the increasingly unfriendly skies more civil?  Or, what are the things you see in flight that drive you absolutely bonkers?