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Airport Etiquette: 10 Things Not to Do at the Airport

Airport Etiquette: 10 Things Not to Do at the Airport

Traveling by air can be an exciting and enjoyable experience, but it also comes with some rules and responsibilities. You don’t want to be the person who annoys other travelers, causes trouble for the airport staff, or gets into a sticky situation. That’s why you need to know and follow airport etiquette, which is the set of manners and behaviors that make your airport experience smoother and more pleasant. In this article, we will share with you 10 things that you should not do at the airport, and how to avoid them. By following these tips, you can ensure that you have a hassle-free and respectful airport experience.

Airport Etiquette: 10 Things You Shouldn’t Do

Aviation is the field that focuses on security the most among all types of transportation. Below are 10 summarized experiences for you to have a good flight.

1. Don’t Make a Scene at the Gate

We all know how frustrating it can be when your flight is delayed, canceled, or overbooked. But don’t take it out on the gate agents, who are doing their best to help you and hundreds of other passengers. Don’t yell, curse, or threaten them. Don’t demand special treatment or compensation. And don’t try to sneak into a higher boarding group or a better seat. Be polite, patient, and cooperative, and you’ll have a better chance of getting a satisfactory solution.

travelers are lining up when check-in at the airport
Travelers are lining up when check-in at the airport.

2. Don’t Hold Up the Security Line

Going through the security checkpoint is one of the most stressful and time-consuming parts of traveling by air. The last thing you want to do is to hold up the line and annoy other travelers and security agents. To avoid this, you should be prepared and efficient when you go through the security screening. Have your boarding pass and ID ready, remove your shoes and liquids, and follow the TSA rules. Don’t cut in line, argue with the agents, or forget your belongings. If you have any questions or concerns, ask politely and calmly. By doing this, you can demonstrate airport etiquette and respect for the rules and regulations of air travel.

3. Don’t Leave Your Belongings Unattended

Leaving your luggage or personal items unattended at the airport is not only risky but also rude. You may lose your valuables or have them stolen by thieves or opportunists. You may also cause a security alert and delay other passengers if your bags are suspected of containing dangerous or illegal items. To prevent this, you should always keep an eye on your belongings and never leave them out of your sight or reach. You should also label your bags with your name and contact information in case they get lost or misplaced. By doing this, you can show airport etiquette and respect for the safety and convenience of yourself and others.

unattended luggage in the airport
An unattended luggage in the airport.

4. Don’t Look After and Carry Things for Others

If you travel with family members or friends, the whole group can carry or look after each other’s luggage. Otherwise, you should avoid touching other people’s luggage. You can’t know clearly what’s in it, or if they have any other intentions. Thus, carrying or looking after your luggage can potentially cause unforeseen problems. If you are asked for help, just politely refuse and suggest another solution. You should also proactively take good care of your luggage and avoid bothering others by asking them to carry things. Use a stroller at the airport if your luggage feels too heavy or bulky.

5. Don’t Take Photos Anytime, Anywhere

The airport is a public space, however, there are some areas where the use of cameras is prohibited, often with warning signs. Be careful not to get into trouble at the immigration area, security check area, or check-in counter. Airport staff will be watching and you could get in trouble if you try to take photos there. Additionally, you should be careful when taking photos of employees or passengers because this seemingly normal action can infringe on the personal freedom of others.

6. Don’t Smoking, Using Alcohol and Stimulants

Most airports sell beer, alcohol, and cigarettes. Nevertheless, this is not the place where travelers should use these products. Most spaces at the airport are non-smoking, except for some specifically designed areas. Right before your trip and while waiting at the airport, no matter how long it is, you should not use alcohol, beer, or stimulants because they can make you tired, sleepy, and miss your flight. Furthermore, many airlines refuse to transport passengers who show signs of intoxication, even after checking in. So, make sure you follow this airport etiquette and enjoy great flights full of experiences.

7. Don’t Unintentional Joking

Just joking around while waiting for the plane, some tourists unintentionally say sensitive words like “bomb”, “mine”, “explosive”, and “terrorist”. This joke is harmless in other contexts, but if it happens at the airport, you will likely be questioned by the authorities, miss your flight, or even be put on the “black book”, affecting your travel later. Therefore, be careful when talking at the airport, especially in areas with high security requirements, and on airplanes.

8. Don’t Arguing with Airport Staff

Many customers consider themselves “gods” and do not read the airlines’ transportation regulations carefully till they arrive at the airport and realize that they are in trouble. It could be excess baggage, oversized baggage, carrying items prohibited from being transported by air, or invalid identification documents. In addition, many cases of booking airline tickets in the wrong order of first name, middle name, and last name. Also, some people arrived late at check-in time, or after checking in, went to the plane gate too late.

When falling into the above situations, some people’s first reaction is asking for ignore. When they find it ineffective, they will turn to argue with airport or airline staff. However, this only wastes time, and makes both parties frustrated but does not solve the problem. Instead of begging or arguing, think about whether there is a better solution or ask airport staff for advice. They are always ready to cooperate with you because their ultimate goal is to provide the best service to customers.

9. Don’t Messing Up Things at the Airport

Careless preparation, failure to measure luggage before leaving for the airport, and misplacing carry-on items in checked luggage or vice versa are common reasons why many travelers have to unload all suitcases and bags in the airport to reorganize. This can lead to a great risk of lost or damaged items or create opportunities for thieves. Some tourists even misplace their phones and identification documents just because they are worried about their luggage. Therefore, take the time to prepare properly before leaving, and check your luggage to see if it complies with the airline’s regulations (size, weight, type of belongings carried). There are tips for packing your luggage, and just a few minutes of pre-checking at home saves you dozens of awkward minutes at the airport.

10. Don’t Hog the Charging Stations

Many airports have limited outlets and USB ports for travelers to charge their devices. If you need to juice up your phone, laptop, or tablet, be considerate and don’t occupy more than one spot. Moreover, don’t leave your device unattended or plugged in longer than necessary. And don’t use the charging stations as your personal office or lounge. Let other travelers have a chance to power up their gadgets too.

a phone charging station in Newark airport NJ
A phone charging station in Newark airport, NJ.

How to Be a Good Traveler at the Airport

I hope that this article has helped you understand the importance of airport etiquette and how to practice it. By avoiding these 10 things that you should not do at the airport, you can show respect and courtesy to yourself, other travelers, airport staff, and your destination. You can also avoid unnecessary stress, delays, and problems that can ruin your travel plans. Remember, being a good traveler at the airport is not only about following the rules but also about being considerate and cooperative. By doing so, you can make your airport experience more enjoyable and rewarding.

The Broad Life introduces to you great, inspirational books for your wanderlust. They aren’t just simple travel, each book recounts the author’s journey to discover and learn many awesome things from new civilizations and places.



airport etiquette 10 things not to do at the airport - the broad life pinterest board
airport etiquette 10 things you shouldn't do at the airport - the broad life pinterest board

Khoi Nguyen builds The Broad Life with a desire to inspire people go exploring the world and live a more interesting, experience, and adventurous life. This blog shares the stories, pictures, and experiences at destinations where he has traveled to.


  • Heather

    The world needs these airport tips! So many people are selfish and rude, we all need to be more considerate.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Yeah, I just can’t wait to have more travelers with good airport etiquette.

  • Stephanie

    Anyone getting ready for air travel needs to read this article. Everything here is common sense but we see too much of this at airports these days.

  • jen schreiner

    Yes, Yes, YES!!!! To all of this! I don’t understand how so many people feel the need to get so out of control and lose their tempers. You have to plan for the uncertainty of traveling. These tips are needed.

  • Debbie

    Yes! Yes! Yes! As an avid traveler – I wish everyone would read this post. People really need to learn how to be a more respectful traveler in so many ways.

  • Rosey

    I hate when people leave their suitcases unattended and wander off. I’ve seen people do it seconds after it was announced not to do it and it makes me cringe. I’d be so worried someone would take my things. As you mentioned the security issue always crosses my mind too.

  • Ntensibe Edgar

    Oohhhh…thank you for these. it’s good that some of them are already pre-determined for us here, at our airport. there are restricted areas for taking photos here.

  • Olga

    I like your tips. They seem easy but essential at the same time. I think I’m a good traveler, but airports are always chaotic.

  • Melanie E

    Lots of good advice there. I hate it when people hold up the line in security by not having the required items to hand. I always have the right pages open and passes for each of the family members well organised so we can get through quickly and not hold up the queue.

  • Jennifer Prince

    Ha! I don’t think that folks listen to the no hogging charging stations tip at all. They’re always full with a bunch of people crowded around.

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