CHRISTMAS is nigh and tens of thousands of Australians are about to head for airports around the country – and many of them, sadly, will prove to be exasperatingly rude.
Here are some tips on how not to be one of those who drive fellow travellers to the point of rage and temporary insanity.
Check-in: Check out your allowable baggage allowance before you pack – remembering you will be charged for being overweight. There's nothing worse than being behind someone rummaging through an open suitcase on the airport floor cramming boots and jumpers into their carry-on pack. And there's no use arguing when asked to pay for the extra weight – you'll only holding up yourself and everyone else.
The departure gate: On many flights you board according to where you are sitting on the plane. So, if you are in row 5 and they're calling passengers for rows 25 to 30, don't force them to push past you. You won't be left behind.
Carry-on luggage: If there's no room to store your carry-on in the overhead bin immediately above your seat, don't throw a tantrum. Just put it in the bin in front or behind where you are sitting… remarkably every bin is going to the same place the plane is.
Reclining your seat: So you want to drop your seat back. It actually makes little difference on short flights. But it certainly does to the person behind you, especially if he or she is trying to have a snack, a sip of wine or watching the TV screen on the back of your seat. (A colleague carries a broadsheet newspaper on long flights. If the person in front reclines the seat too far he opens his newspaper, ensuring the top of the page keeps falling forward onto the offender's head. Their seat quickly returns to the upright position.)
Safety instructions: It's just as boring for air crew to have to give their safety demonstrations as you think it is for you to have to listen. And even if you aren't interested in the possibility of it saving your life, try to show respectful interest.
Little darlings: Parents travelling with children often appear oblivious to their little darlings kicking the back of the seat in front, poking faces over the top of their seat at passengers behind, yelling, or making a general nuisance of themselves. Just because you as a parent are used to such behaviour, don't expect all others to be. And if it's you whom you feel has to ask parents to pull Dennis the Menace into line, do so politely. Harsh words will only inflame the situation.
Smelly armpits: Please make sure you use a deodorant, and please, please, please no singlets exposing hairy armpits.
Carry-on food: If you are on a low-cost carrier that allows you to bring food onboard rather than buying theirs, be considerate in what you choose. Many fast foods, especially those with lots of onions, can simply stink in confined spaces. If you must eat, try non-odorous sandwiches, muffins, biscuits or fruit.
Respecting people's space: The seats are small enough without you hogging the armrests or sticking your elbows into those next to you. And as for ...how shall we say ... those of larger body size, don't flick up the armrest so you can spread out. Each person is entitled to a seat – not half a seat or a seat and a half.
Mobile phone etiquette: So many people make a nuisance of themselves shouting through mobile phones on the street, how can we expect them to be different on an aircraft? When you land and want to inform loved ones, your fellow passengers couldn't care less. Why not just send a short text message?
Getting off: Once its time to get off the plane, don't try to elbow your way past those in the seats in front of you. Give them time to get their stuff together – it may seem like it, but you're not in a heavy metal concert mosh pit.
The carousel bunfight: The conveyor belt is long enough for every passenger to get decent access. So don't squeeze in front of someone already waiting to collect their baggage. If you miss your bag it will return again quickly enough.
 THE bigger they get the more comfortable they become to fly in – it's the passengers who can make flying an ordeal.