There's nothing worse than being stuck on a plane, train or automobile and seeing another hanging out in their bare feet or taking care of their personal grooming. Etiquette expert Lisa Orr has some tips on how to deal with these unexpected moments when travelling.
Typically it's not appropriate to go bare foot in public places, and an airplane is no exception. Many people do remove their shoes in flight due to concerns of their feet swelling, however if you do choose to take off your shoes you should be wearing socks or bring slippers to wear on board.
If you're sitting next to someone who has removed their socks and it's clearly going to be a problem, ask them if they would mind putting their socks back on. If they seem reluctant you can share with them the multitude of germs and viruses they can take in through their skin by walking barefoot on a carpeted plane.
Resting your feet on the armrest in front of you
This is completely inappropriate. If you absolutely require more leg room, many airlines sell seats in economy with extra space—or make the investment and upgrade to business glass. You should never impose your feet on the person in front of you.
If someone does this to you, ask the passenger to remove their feet. If they don't, ask a flight attendant for assistance.
Draping your hair over your seat
Your designated space on the airplane is in the front of your seat and the back of the seat of the person in front of you. The back of your seat is not your space, so it's never OK for you to leave your hair dangling over your seat. Airplanes are small spaces so you need to be respectful of others around you.
If the person sitting in front of you has draped their hair over your seat and it's blocking your screen, give them the benefit of the doubt that they didn't know. Politely ask them to move their hair and they will likely apologize and move it.
Laying on seats
Space is always in short supply when you're travelling but no matter how exhausted you are, you should not take the liberty of stretching out across multiple seats. If you must take a nap, there are all kinds of creative devices and pillows that allow you to do so in your own seat.
If a fellow passenger is taking up multiple seats to sleep and it's affecting you, this situation is better handled by transportation staff who will likely have to wake the sleeping passenger and ask them to return to their seat.
Personal hygiene activities are only appropriate in private and, ideally, personal spaces. If you must floss or attend to another need urgently, excuse yourself to a washroom on board and be sure to clean up after yourself when you're done.
If another passenger is flossing their teeth or clipping their nails, say something like, “Would you like to do your flossing/clipping in the restroom? I'm sure you'd prefer to have some privacy.” If that isn't embarrassing enough for them, it's time to bring in someone from the transportation staff to help.