• Natalie Rader, a former Delta flight attendant, shares her unwritten rules of flying.
  • She says be mindful of smells on the plane — don't paint your toenails, for example.
  • Wear shoes in the bathroom — sometimes people miss and they pee on the floor.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Natalie Rader, a flight attendant. It has been edited for length and clarity. 

As a flight attendant who used to work for Delta and now works in private aviation, there are some unwritten rules I wish passengers knew. 

When getting on a plane, it's important to consider the other passengers and crew members on board. Flying can be stressful, but if you can treat others with kindness and respect, you'll have a much better flight.

Here are a few things passengers should know:

1. Stick to the luggage rules 

When there's a guideline that says, bring only one personal item and one carry-on, please follow it. While you may get away with it as gate agents are occupied, it's disrespectful to the other passengers. 

The purpose of this rule is to make sure that everyone has space for their belongings. When you bring on more than you're supposed to you're taking away room from other passengers who paid money just like you did. 

When things like this happen, it can be frustrating but I just remind myself of my personal motto which is "no surprises," and that seems to help.

2. Wear your shoes in the lavatory

Humans are messy, so please don't go to the lavatory in your socks. Sometimes people miss and they pee on the floor.

It's gross to wear just your socks in the bathroom. If you're in your seat it's fine to be in your socks, but when you head to the bathroom you should wear your shoes for hygiene. 

3. Be mindful of smelly socks

It's also important to be careful with smells, which includes your smelly socks. When you're on a plane, you're in a very tight space, so smells circulate throughout the cabin. So while you might think, this won't smell, it does.

Be mindful of foods like garlic, the foods you buy in the airport, and painting your toes on the plane. All of those smells circulate, and those next to you will smell it.

4. Don't recline your seat during meal service 

It's okay to recline your seat — when I'm tired, I do it as a passenger, too. But, sometimes I will see people jam their seats back and it will catch the passenger behind them off guard. You should also be mindful if it's during meal time, as reclining your seat can push their tray into them.

When it comes to reclining I'd just try to be considerate of it, especially if they've a drink or their food in front of them.   

5. Make sure your children have their own earbuds

Please use your inside voice and keep noise to a minimum. Not everyone wants to hear that you're on the phone, and not everyone wants to hear your conversation with someone else. 

This goes for children, too. It's common for children to play their music and their games without earbuds. You should make sure you have earbuds for your kids because nobody wants to hear what they are listening to. Really, they want to listen to their own stuff.

6. Be kind

I'm human and sometimes these situations can trigger me, especially after a long duty day and my rest has been less than ideal, however, being self aware certainly helps me to come out on top.

For passengers, if I could suggest anything, it would be to be kind. When you get on your flight, you should have the mindset of being kind, respectful, and patient.

Sometimes people will yell at the gate agents and the crew, but it's important to realize when you throw a fit, it doesn't get you anywhere. We try our absolute best, but please remember we don't have control over everything either.

If you can be kind, you'll have a better experience when you fly. 

Flying is stressful and it can be over-stimulating, we get it, there are announcements in the airport, and on the plane, too. Flying can put a lot of pressure on a passenger. But, if you can remember to be respectful, kind, and flexible your flying experience will be better.