Saturday, April 9, 2011

What is proper Etiquette while on an airplane and bare feet

One of the things that continually amazes me is how people don't think of their fellow traveler while on an airplane. A joke among many flight attendants is "Passengers often check their brains, not their luggage". One pet peeves is to see a passenger get on an airplane immediately take off their shoes, and put them up onto something that isn't theirs.

It doesn't matter whether the customer is in Coach, Business, or First, it continually amazes me how this seems to be a common practice because people do it all the time. A fellow flight attendant, and avid blogger regarding proper Jetiquette, Sky Steward, has posted several question from his readers and has answered them to the best of his ability.

We all know that boarding can be hectic. I know that many of our passengers probably kick off their shoes when they are at home because they want to just air their feet and relax a little bit. I can also  understand that passengers too have had long days, often with boring meetings and would like to sit back and relax, but what would happen if during boarding, while the aircraft is being refueled for the flight something happened and you have to evacuate. That person now has to take critical minutes to put those shoes back on.

Just keep those shoes on because even after the door closes while the plane is taxiing out to the runway, or even during an attempt to take-off, there have been instances where there is an aborted take-off. Thankfully, not many are in need of an evacuation, but they do occur. How are you going to quickly evacuate if you are fumbling for your shoes to put them back on? Lots of valuable time is wasted for your personal well-being putting those shoes back on when you could be in imminent danger of a smoke filling up the cabin, making it difficult to see and you have to evacuate the aircraft.

Ok, so none of the above scenarios happened, so we're inflight and you really do need to just relax. OK, that's fine, but don't put your feet up on the armrest or tray table. We all like to think that the tray tables get cleaned after every single flight, however, they are not. Someone's stinky feet aren't the only things that get on tray tables, parents will often change their babies diapers on them instead of using the baby tables in the lavatories.

Another aspect is how people think because they are in the bulkhead seat, they can climb their feet all over the bulkhead wall. This is the biggest peeve of mine, especially from those passengers who are in First and/or Business Class. People don't go into restaurants or their Doctor's/Lawyer's offices and put their feet up on the tables or furniture, so why do this on an airplane?

If you don't put your feet on the table at a restaurant, then why put feet on the tray-table or bulkhead (wall). I can see how some people who are tall are trying to get comfortable, however not everyone in the cabin would like to see (or smell) your feet. Would you expect your client to walk into your office or conference room and kick off their shoes and put them up on the table? How about clipping their toenails? WHY oh WHY would you want to clip them at your seat? At least go into the lavatory and clip them in the privacy....(hint: there's a trash container for the clippings when your done too!) Every airline has their share of inconsiderate passenger.

Airlines will put their planes through certain over-hauls (C-Checks) (scroll down to aircraft maintenance procedures) after certain amount of hours flown. Some checks only allow steam-cleaning of aisle carpets, replacing burned out reading lights, fixing seats that don't recline properly. There are also bigger checks where the airplane is completely stripped of everything inside the cabin and everything is replaced with newer items. One airline use to use carpet for their bulkheads, and have just recently replaced them with a different wall. Here is a picture of a bulkhead where the carpet was completely ruined by passengers putting their feet up on the wall, costing the airlines thousands of dollars to replace.

Ok, it's inevitable...passengers need to have physiological breaks and need to go to the lavatory during the flight. What doesn't surprise me are these same people who have their feet on a seat, tray table, bulkhead, are the same ones who walk up the extremely dirty aisle and walk to the lavatory in their bare feet. Something to consider if this is you....that's often NOT water on the floor of the lavatory. As good of an aim some male passengers have on the ground, will have a good aim when turbulence hits. Surprising enough, women often have bad aims too, especially when they squat over the seat as oppose to sitting on the seat. (literally had to clean up the bodily fluid after a female passenger urinated all over the floor instead of hitting the spot) Again, just put your shoes  on for the few minutes you need to use the loo because 1) it's more sanitary, and 2) there may actually be broken glass on the floor walking to the lavatory.  (this goes for the little tykes too!)

Are you still with me? Yeah, believe it or not, people do this all the time. I've even encountered a stinky foot on a commuting flight.  Sure, this person was kind enough to keep her shoes on, but they stunk up to high heaven. I had to repeatedly turn around and ask her to move her feet because of the stench. (that's my elbow next to her foot)

I actually put my tote bag under the seat in front of me and leave it there the entire flight. I get out what I need when I get to my seat so I don't have to bother with it later on. I do get cramped sometimes, so what I do is to get up when the seatbelt sign is off and go to the lavatory, even if I don't have to go just to stretch and get the blood flowing.

Here are some more folks with their feet on the bulkhead. Yes, at one time all three of their feet were on the wall. I don't know why this is so except-able because there is often food involved along with beverages being handed out. Many passengers don't even remove their feet when the working flight attendant is trying to work (place beverage, snacks, and/or food)  Passengers throw a fit when they board a plane and it is a pig sty. Well, just look at what the passenger does, you can then start to understand why the place isn't so tidy. It would be nice if we did have the plane steam-cleaned after every single flight, but that would cost money and take up a LOT of your valuable time since most passengers want to board that late arriving airplane and get on their way to their destination quickly

Now the flight is coming to a close, and we're descending into our destination. Believe it or not, many people still don't put their shoes on for landing. Just like the take-off, anything could happen at any moment, and you just don't know when you will have to evacuate the aircraft.
There could be times where the plane lands in terrible weather, crashes, and you have to quickly get out to save yourself, or the plane has no power and abruptly stops at the end of the runway and you hear the evacuation commands to "UNFASTEN SEATBELTS, COME THIS WAY!" 


Best rule of thumb is wait until you're at cruise altitude to take off your shoes (if you really have to). Remember to put your shoes back on when you have to go to the bathroom, take them off again when you're back at your seat, don't put them on the furniture since other people not only have to sit there, but eat there too. When preparing for landing, put your shoes back on because you just never know what may happen.

Following these simple rules not only keeps you prepared for any type of emergency, but gives you a few extra minutes doing other things while those who don't know how to follow proper jetiquette are still gathering their belongings and putting on their shoes when they had the last 25 minutes to do so.

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