Avoid air hassles: Be discreet and on your best behavior

Saturday, June 23, 2007
Passengers lined up for security screening May 31 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. (TED S. WARREN ~ Associated Press)

NEW YORK -- In the past nine months, passengers have been kicked off airplanes or detained at airports for uncontrolled coughing, joking about hijacking, breast-feeding a baby, kissing and other amorous activities, cursing at flight attendants who denied them alcohol, failing to get a screaming child buckled in for takeoff, and carrying a sippy cup of water.

It doesn't take much in the post-9-11 era to get in trouble on airplanes or in airports.

Here are five tips for getting to your destination this summer without getting scolded, grilled, detained or escorted off a plane.

* Be discreet. "The No. 1 tip is the 'I wasn't raised in a barn' tip. Whatever you wouldn't do in a church, don't do on a plane," said Peter Shankman, founder of AirTroductions.com, a social-networking site for air travelers. "If there's ever been a time in your life where you don't want to attract more attention to yourself, it's on a plane."

"If a passenger's behavior is offensive to other passengers on board, then the airline reserves the right to deny boarding or to ask for the passenger to be removed," said David Castelveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association.

* Prepare if you're traveling with small children. Tell them what to expect on board. Use their car seat on the plane so they're not upset by unfamiliar restraints. Bring snacks. "Bring along games and coloring or connect-the-dots books," said Joyce Gioia, who writes the Herman Trend Alert, a business strategies newsletter. "My tactic was to pack a brand-new toy my child had never seen."

In January, a family was kicked off a plane when their toddler threw a tantrum and couldn't be strapped in for takeoff.

* Control symptoms for coughs, colds and other illnesses. Bring tissues; dispose of them in the airsickness bag. Bring a bottle of water for a dry throat. (You are allowed to bring water onboard if you buy it after going through security.)

* Don't make jokes about terrorism. "Jokes and/or comments about threats to passengers or the aircraft will be taken seriously," the Transportation Security Administration's "Summer Travel Tips" brochure states.

"It's important that people not make those inappropriate remarks," said TSA spokesman Christopher White. "Any behavior, actions or comments that could be construed as a threat to the aircraft or other passengers would merit some kind of security response."

* Know the rules and plan ahead. At www.tsa.gov you'll find detailed information on what is and isn't permitted in your carry-on.

"When you go through security, treat it like you've been pulled over for speeding," advised Brett Snyder, a writer for CrankyFlier.com. "Be polite, answer any reasonable questions, and just keep thinking about being done with it so you can move on with your life."

If you inadvertently bring along a prohibited item, "you can leave the checkpoint area and dispose of it or put it in your checked baggage," said White.

"The rules are the rules," said Shankman. "They don't make the rules. Screaming at the TSA agent and calling him an idiot is not going to help."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: