TPG’s Guide to Airport Lounge Etiquette

Sep 1, 2011

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Airport lounges can be a jungle. You’ve got an interesting cross section of people, whether it’s business travelers closing deals or fanny-pack toting leisure travelers calling every single person in their cell phones before their big voyage.

In my travels, I’ve seen a lot. In fact, I’m writing this post from the Miami SkyClub (which is one of the nicest in the system). At present there are so many irritating people that I thought I’d write a quick manifesto to help guide anyone who may not be aware of appropriate lounge etiquette. Feel free to add your suggestions or disagree with any of my proclamations.

1) Use a lounge voice. A lounge voice is in between the “6 inch voices” my elementary school teachers used to encourage us to use and a normal speaking voice. I know many people are skeptical that modern day cell phones will fully pick up on your voice, but trust me – they will!

There’s no need to whisper, but a lowered tone when talking on the phone is much appreciated. I don’t need to hear the dirty details of your Vegas weekend or how awesome you are at closing deals. Frankly, everything you say makes me dislike you more and more.

When speaking with others in the lounge, remember that this isn’t your local pub. While the beer may flow like it is, try to keep your voice in check.

2) Coffee tables are not ottomans. Trust me – I want to kick my feet up after a long day on the road just as much as the next weary traveler, but I restrain myself because I wasn’t raised in a barn. While lounge furniture can be dingy at best, it still doesn’t make it okay to put your nasty shoes on it. If you really feel the need to prop your feet up, use your own luggage and try to be a little discreet about it.

3) The bar isn’t going anywhere. I often see people double-fisting drinks as if it was last call at a dive bar. I may or may not have done this once or twice in my life, however, drinking yourself into oblivion generally doesn’t work out for anyone. Lounges these days are really crowded and I’ve been knocked into more than once by an intoxicated passenger who is unaware of their surroundings. I’m a bit of an advocate of loosening up with a couple drinks while flying (just remember to hydrate as well), but don’t go overboard.

4) Don’t hog the power outlets. One of my biggest pet peeves is the lack of outlets in lounges. If you are sitting near a coveted power outlet, share it with others who will inevitably need it. I’ve been in desperate need of juice and recently sat next to someone with their phone, laptop and camera charging. I asked nicely and they gave up a precious outlet after a little huffing and puffing, but try to be a little courteous. Karma is a good thing to build up while traveling!

5) Clean up after yourself. Most lounges are scarcely staffed, so try not to make your area look like an atomic bomb exploded. I know it’s annoying that there aren’t even trash cans in many lounges, but simply keeping your area remotely clean will go a long way. No one wants to watch your banana peel slowly decompose – wrapping it up in a bar napkin is much nicer than leaving it strewn about.

6) Park your luggage appropriately. Lounges are generally jam-packed, so make sure your rollerboard and carry-on are parked conveniently. Don’t put them in front of an empty chair or in the main thoroughfare. Try to prop them up against a wall or flush against your chair.

7) Shut your computer up. It amazes me, but I’ve been next to many people who Skype or play movies loudly. For everyone’s sanity, use headphones.

TPG reader additions:
8 ) “Don’t touch any food that is out on the buffet with your fingers unless you take it. And because people carry so many germs on airplanes, use hand sanitizer before going through the buffet. You still may be touching utensils and leaving germs for the next person through the line. “- Hat tip Cornroaster

9) Don’t hoard the snacks. Taking a couple for the road is okay, but emptying a jar of Nutella packets into your purse is just tacky. Hat tip Billy

What tips do you have for proper lounge behavior?

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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