10 Ways To Rock The Full Flight…and increase your travel karma

Web: www.thetravelstrategist.com — E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

22/06/2009 – 10 Ways To Rock The Full Flight…and increase your travel karma

Full flights are great for airlines and often intolerable for passengers. As a human species we’re generally selfish, we like our personal space and while sitting in a cramped airline seat we prize ever last millimeter of our personal space.

So yesterday while reading a back and forth chat between the popular airline blog Flight Wisdom and Southwest Airlines regarding how to “Rock The Full Flight” I quickly wrote out my 10 suggestions for making full-flights more tolerable for everyone on board.

I’ll admit there are days when if Mother Teresa (if she were alive) approached me and asked me for my upgraded seat I’d possibly decline and I’ve been known to sit in my seat and think “why do all screaming babies sit directly behind me?” but on the whole when I fly I approach my packed to the gills flights in a simple manner. My view is that all the passengers are jammed into the same small metal tube for as long as the flight is. From there on travelling becomes a team effort and making travel easier for even one person on your packed flight is good travel karma and it can also have a trickle down impact for the overall good of the flight.

So…in answer to Flight Wisdom & Southwest Airlines here are 10 Ways To Rock The Full Flight. At various points in my travel history I have done each and every one of these 10 things…

#10) On a full-flight give up your window seat to a curious kid so they can look outside!

#09) If you see a family boarding late & they can’t be seated together, give up your seat for them if you can assist them in being seated together. Encourage your seatmates to sacrifice for the greater good of everyone on board as well.

#08) If someone next to you tells you they have a peanut allergy pass on the baggy of peanuts being handed out. Having your seatmate go into anaphylactic shock will only delay your travel (I am severely allergic to peanuts…and have had mostly respectful seatmates)

#07) Pack triangle-crayons, even if you aren’t travelling with kids, to hand out to a parent with a restless kid. Your crayons can save multiple people on the plane from enduring an irritated and restless child. I suggest triangle crayons, as they do not roll off the tray table making everyone’s life easier on the flight.

#06) Got a seat upgrade? Pass along your upgrade to a Solider/Sailor/Airman/Marine/Coastie on their way home from overseas. I have done this many times, including once for a non-US soldier headed back home to the Scotland. It’s just a nice way to say Thank You.

#05) Full-flight during peak busy season? Bring a box of nice chocolates for the flight attendants! Remember that happy flight attendants make for a happy flight…and they work really hard with some really cranky flyers.

#04) Know you’re on a packed flight? Bring a bag of Jelly Beans to share with your seatmates. (It really works in making your row of seatmates smile!)

#03) If you snag a seat with extra legroom and see an extremely tall passenger boarding the plane, offer to pass along your seat. (I am 6ft 3in (190.5cm) and I have passed along my seat to few times to passengers around 7ft (213cm) who really needed the leg room)

#02) Have drink vouchers? Share them with your seatmates. (I don’t drink but I have always handed out drink vouchers when I have them, often to really grumpy passengers, those in the Military…and one Catholic Priest headed to a funeral)

#01) See a Mom/Dad with a baby in a full-row & you have an empty seat next to you? Offer to swap seats with them! It will make EVERYONE’S life easier!

So…there you go my 10 Ways To Rock The Full Flight.

As a traveller I can tell you this…good travel karma goes a long way. Happier fellow passengers make for a more pleasant flight for everyone.

Happy Flying!


  1. That is amazing. Pretty much all of those are very positive and it is great you give to so many people like that.

    Do people actually take the candy from you? I normally always try to share my gum or give away my peanuts if I don’t want them, but people seem to always refuse now where in the past they didn’t…


  2. You rock! Great ideas…if all passengers were like you? hmmmm? There just might be world peace: )

    I’m still waiting to see one of my FC paxs give up there seat for someone in the military…only wishing I could suggest it!

  3. You have never had an F-Pax offer up their seat to someone in the Military? Really? I have seen it done by a few others and know some other flyers who do it when possible.

    Until Delta removed the Crown Room as a Platinum perk I used to bring servicemen & servicewomen into the CRC with me at SFO with some regularity as ‘cousins.’ The women who used to be at the CRC desk at SFO never questioned me (I was at the SFO CRC 3 to 6 times a week for a year) and let them stay long after I had left for my flight. On one Delta SEA-ATL flight I offered up my seat to a soldier and the FA’s instead moved the six servicemen on board into six empty seats up front on the 763 flown on the route.

    I no longer get upgrades very often as I switched my frequent flyer programs to non-US programs, but they do happen at times and I still often give up my seat when I get the upgrades.

    Happy Flying!


  4. David,

    I have had plenty of people accept jelly beans, twizzlers and the occasional candy bar. I’ve also been known to hand parents small bags of mini-Oreos or chocolate chip cookies for small kids on flights that seem hungry and fussy.

    If kids are happy on flights everyone around them is happier.

    Happy Flying!


  5. Nope, never! I have seen gate agents do it..once in a blue moon. I will do it…even though it’s a huge no..no at my airline for FAs to upgrade anyone…it’s also very rare that I see an empty FC seat!

    That’s so cool! You are awesome: ) Would love to have you as a pax: )

  6. I loved this advice! Its a “Pay it Forward” for flying! Especially for families. I dont understand why ppl dont get that if you are nice to screaming kids and their families, they probably will stop screaming.

    One more piece of advice: if you are a parent and someone gave up a seat for you all to sit together, buy them a drink. Or if they are sitting in front of you and are likely to get kicked the whole flight!

  7. Great article!

    In the golden days of another life gone by, I used to love a full flight, especially late in the afternoon on a commuter, when all were exhausted and most fell asleep a few minutes into the flight or quietly let the day pass review.

    On hot summer days we would have a cooler brought to the flight with Hagen Daz Ice Cream and you should have seen the happy faces of the suits, sitting in their seats like little boys and girls, happily licking their ice cream. Those were the good days, the other days ———I had surgically removed from my memory so I could cope with the rest of my life!

    Cheers, Happy

  8. I carryextra headphones, a Y adaptor and an old IPod with Kids movies as well as peanut free trail mix for myseldf and seatmates. The Crayon idea is great. I’m adding that to my go bag ASAP. Good travel Karma always pays off in the end.

    On the rare occasions there is no more standbys for upgrades, I have upgraded a stranger as a companion. I do not do that if there are other elites on the wait list.

    I will not, however, swap myself into a middle seat for anyone. Sorry, everyone has their limits.

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