Well, not all of them are new—but all of them bear repeating.
Rule 1. If a typical human being could not carry it for even a short distance, it is not a "carry-on." What isn't clear about this? Bringing your extra-large suitcases into the cabin causes problems for other passengers and delays flights. A baggage carousel adds 15 minutes to your trip, max. If you can't afford the baggage fee, take a train.
Rule 2. Do not cluster at the gate until your row or seating area is called. You're getting in people's way, and you look ridiculous milling around there like cattle. Sit down. If you're in a rush to get on first because you're afraid that you're not going to get any overhead-bin space for your steamer trunk, see Rule 1.
Rule 3. If you're in economy class, let the person in the middle seat have both his armrests. If you're on the aisle or in a window seat, you have plenty of room with just one, and he's suffering enough, the poor, pitiable thing. Don't be selfish.
Rule 4. No egg-salad sandwiches should be eaten on commuter planes or other small closed-air-circulation environments.
Rule 5. Let's just all agree that we're not going to recline our seats in economy. That three inches intrudes into the space of the person behind you far more than it enhances your comfort.
Air travel is stressful—but losing your temper when a flight is delayed by weather or when you must undergo the (humiliating, yes) security procedures we all have to endure only makes it more so. Keep in mind that you are rarely going to achieve perfect comfort on an airplane, and your efforts to make yourself more comfortable should not intrude on the comfort of others, for Pete's sake.
(Written in a fit of pique after a six-hour flight from Boston to San Francisco—in a middle seat.)
Want to discuss tips for frequent travelers? Check out my post "Tips for Business Travelers" on the Monster.com Blog.