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The rules of business travel etiquette

Written By ady setiawan on Jumat, 13 November 2009 | 07.08

I was working out with a client recently, soon after he had returned from another business trip overseas.

We were talking about manners and how they seem to be distinctly lacking on the business travel circuit, not to mention in everyday life. Have you noticed this too, or is it just me showing my age?

As we chatted, he told me that in his opinion, there are 4 laws of business travel etiquette, which made me smile, so I thought I would share them with you.

I'm sure you have your own 'travel laws' that you like to live by too.

Here are my client's laws:

1. If you have a weak bladder, or you drink a lot of fluid, be sure to choose an aisle seat.
There is nothing more frustrating or tiresome than sitting next to someone who has booked a window seat, who insists on visiting the washroom every 5 minutes. It disturbs your work, your films, your music and your sleep, especially if they have to wake you to move.

2. Keep your arms to yourself.
Regardless of which seat you pick, keep your elbows within your own personal space. Don't try playing 'elbow wrestling' with your fellow passengers. Pressing your elbows outwards to keep adjacent passengers at bay is not a clever move. It can cause pent-up rage, and should you choose to visit the washroom during the flight, you can guarantee that the passenger whose elbows you had pinned back will have spread him or herself purposely over your armrest. Be warned!

3. Cover your mouth!
Sitting in close proximity to strangers is not a pleasant experience at the best of times, so please abide by this law: If you need to cough, cover your mouth. My client told me he's lost count of the number of times people cough and splutter loudly without so much as a raising of the hand, leaving their germs to spray around the cabin with wild abandon. Germs spread like wildfire in confined spaces. Keep yours to yourself!

4. Share nicely
This last law refers to the luggage storage bins above passengers' seats. Some people have a blatant disregard for the fact that these are 'shared' bins. While they may fling their jackets, bags and any other luggage in a heap on the floor when they return home, on a flight you need to be aware of space saving. My client told me of one guy who had spread his coat out to dry in the overhead locker, only to tut and stare when asked if he would mind moving it so my client could store his laptop bag.

Making enemies on a long-haul flight is not a wise move. Stick to your 'laws' - the ones by which you would hope others would abide, and you will be in for a stress-free flight.

What laws do you wish fellow-travellers would abide by, to keep you happy?

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