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  • Steven Robinson
    Steven Robinson

    The Unofficial Rules for Talking on Planes

    Traveling has always been a great way to explore the world, but for many people it can also be one of the most stressful experiences. When you’re stuck in the close confines of a plane cabin for hours on end, with limited space, it’s not always easy to share it with other passengers. But, being considerate of your fellow travelers doesn’t have to mean muffled conversations and monotonous silence; in fact, following a few simple rules of etiquette can encourage engaging and meaningful conversations with new acquaintances. Here are the unofficial rules for talking on planes that can help cultivate stimulating conversations, in a space-sharing atmosphere.

    Listen Before You Speak

    It’s likely that both you and the person you’re seated next to are responding to their own feelings of vulnerability while sharing the same space. Each passenger will come to the situation with a unique set of energies and emotions, which is why it’s important to pay attention to what the other person is saying or not saying. Once you’ve made the choice to spark up a conversation, start by listening to what he or she has to say—instead of cutting them off or thinking about what you’ll say next. Also, be open to conversing, or not conversing. If the other person isn’t interested in talking, don’t pressure them.

    Be Respectful

    On a flight, conversations are usually more brief than those you may have when meeting someone during familiar activities. Because time is limited—and because planes can cause anxiety and agitation—it’s essential to remain respectful and polite when talking to other passengers. This includes not talking too loudly or making jokes that could make the other person feel uncomfortable. Recognize people’s boundaries and respect them. Likewise, if a passenger turns down your offer to talk, respect their wishes.

    Check In On Others

    It’s generally accepted that people at the airport and onboard flights typically keep to themselves. Nevertheless, this is still your opportunity to show compassion and share your attention with them. Offer a smile, a nod, or verbalize how much further there is until you arrive at your destination. Anything that indicates you’re in the same boat and understanding of their situation will help provide some emotional comfort.

    Limit Conversation Volume

    In order to stay courteous to other passengers, it’s important to be mindful of how loud your conversations are on a plane. Establishing a tone and speaking level that’s appropriate for your respective surroundings can foster an environment that’s peaceful. Also, avoid conversations regarding personal topics like age and job descriptions. Be conscious of the amount of space you take up and how far your voice carries; some people might be trying to catch up on sleep or are reading, and you don’t want to disrupt their quiet time.

    Choose Your Topic

    An airline setting is not the place to discuss topics that can spark up controversy or ignite impassioned and contentious conversations; instead, stick with lighter topics like movies or music. If you’re uncomfortable with small talk or don’t know where to start, consider revisiting your favorite interests or hobbies, or even talking about something interesting you read about in the news lately. Moreover, focus on positive conversation points and steer clear of anything provocative.

    Dress Appropriately

    When traveling, although it may rarely be the case, it’s possible to cross paths with someone you know. While those chances are slim, you want to make sure you’re looking your best. When flying, dress in such a way that conveys respect not only to your new acquaintance, but to your other plane companions as well. Be sure to dress neatly, as this conveys your willingness to be respectful of the space.


    Be mindful of the fact that while you’re speaking, there could also be someone else wanting to join in the conversation. Don’t monopolize the conversation, but reciprocate in terms of letting others talk as well. This could mean asking the other person questions or playing off of the conversation topic once he or she has finished speaking.

    Having conversations in tight quarters like those of an airplane can be awkward and intimidating. However, by following these unofficial rules for talking on planes, passengers can make the most of their shared journey and enjoy meaningful exchanges with their seat-mates. By staying aware and being respectful of the space and its inhabitants, as well as remembering the basics of etiquette, travelers can enjoy a pleasurable experience without too much stress or worry.

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