In-Flight Etiquette and New Manners for Travel

New Rules Using the "Travelers Nine Commandments"

It was a timeless guide to not offending your neighbors

Wells Fargo Stage Coach

While leafing through a book on the history of California, I came across an unusual but practical list distributed by Wells-Fargo.  The list is the "Stage Coach Riders' Nine Commandments."

It's outdated, yet in its basic spirit, it is timeless.  Even though buffalo robes (provided for comfort during cold weather) are no longer in style, good manners always are.

The list aimed to make everyone comfortable on, what I'm sure must have been, a very uncomfortable journey to California.  The aforementioned buffalo robes were apparently one of the few comforts provided. According to Commandment No.4, "Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver."

Imagine the faces of today's airline pilots if they were forced to share the cockpit with a passenger caught hogging all the overhead bin space. No, I don't think that rule has transcended time gracefully.

Though buffalo robes are no longer in style, good manners always are.
But how about Commandment No.5? "Don't snore loudly (this is something actually controllable?) while sleeping, or use your fellow passenger's shoulder for a pillow.  He or she may not understand and friction may result."

That shoulder sleeping part I really like, and I believe that every passenger boarding a plane should get something in print on how to behave graciously in-flight.  Buses and trains should pass something out in print to passengers, too.

Of course today you probably will get into some sort of grey area if you use the word "Commandments," when distributing anything. Even while trying to promote goodwill and comfort for all.  Religious, and non-religious groups alike, might feel slighted by the religious overtones of the Biblical "Commandments," so one would have to be careful as to what they were titled.

"Suggestions" is too tame a word.  "Requests" and "Recommendations" both sound too weak. "Directions" and "Instructions" are usually the two words that signal passengers to stop listening, because they think they're going to learn about oxygen masks and seat-flotation devices, for possibly the umpteenth time.

How about "Rules?" It's short, gets right to the point and gives a sense of structure to the matter at hand.  I like it.
Yes... How about "Rules?"

Now, if the travel industry was to come up with "Rules", what else might they be able to borrow from the "Stage Coach Riders' Nine Commandments?"  Well, Commandment No.6 should be scratched from the running: "Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies do not fire them for pleasure  or shoot at wild animals, as the sound riles the horses."

How about No.9? "Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers, will be put off the stage.  It's a long walk back.  A word to the wise is sufficient."  Substitute "anyone" for "gents," and "any" for "lady," and this rule would work!  Substituting the word "drop" for "walk" would add that fear-inducing element, ensuring compliance.

Commandment No.2 is out for the airline industry: "Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit with the wind, not against it."

"Commandment No. 8 might make a nice addition to the list: "Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings."  Replace those with the topics of "plane crashes" and "plane hijackings" and you've got a real winner!

Be neighborly and share it if you have it.
Commandment No.1 could make the new list of rules - Twice! : "Abstinence from liquor is requested.  If you must drink, share your bottle; otherwise you will appear to be selfish and unneighborly." 


"Abstinence from speaking on your cell phone is requested.  If you must speak, share your conversation with no one else nearby, by speaking as quietly as possible; otherwise you will appear to be selfish and unneighborly."  And that's what manners are truly all about... being neighborly.


  1. I hate to fly these days. It can only get worse if they don't rein in rude travelers. We need these rules ASAP!

  2. I really enjoyed this. Very funny but right on!


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