Q: On a recent flight, there was an argument between two fairly high-profile people: former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and rapper Sky Blu of LMFAO. Supposedly, it was over Sky Blu reclining his seat on the plane. What's your take?
A: We've covered seat-reclining issues before, but this is a little different—not because of who was involved but because of when it occurred and what it escalated into.
Sky Blu allegedly put his seat back while the plane was still on the tarmac, preparing for takeoff. You're not allowed to do that. Period. So we have travel etiquette lesson #1: Follow the rules about when you can recline. They're pretty clear.
But here's where accounts start to differ. Some sort of physical altercation followed, and each party says the other guy got physical first.
Now I wasn't there; I have no idea who to believe. But travel etiquette lesson #2 could not be more simple: Keep your hands to yourself. Even my toddler understands that rule, so I'm rather appalled that two grown men—never mind two grown men who are public figures—couldn't follow it on a plane. My sympathies to all the other passengers—what a ridiculous reason for your flight to be delayed.
Q: I went out to dinner with my girlfriends, and we each ordered dessert. One of my friends ate a single bite of hers, then took the top off the salt shaker and poured salt all over it so she wouldn't eat the rest. I've seen this recommended in magazine diet articles, but to see someone actually do it looked shocking. What do you think?
A: I think it's a great way to make yourself look like a wasteful little prima donna and ensure your friends never invite you out to dinner with them again.
Part of being a good dinner companion is not making a big fuss about your food issues, because that makes everyone else uncomfortable. If you're dieting and only want to eat a little of your dessert, or prefer not to order one in the first place, that's fine. Just don't subject your friends to a melodramatic spectacle like this when they're merely trying to enjoy some tiramisu.
Q: Do you have to be elderly or disabled to have one of the little beeping carts drive you to your gate at the airport? When I'm sprinting through an airport to make a close connection, I always want to ask, but I'm not sure about it.
A: Elderly or disabled customers should have first priority (obviously), but if you see an empty cart and think it might get you to your gate faster, it wouldn't hurt to ask the driver. Honestly, though, if the airport's crowded, you might get there faster on foot.
Q: When you're in a restaurant, how exactly should you order food from your server? Is it okay to only say the name of the food you want (like, just "Fish and chips") or should you say something like, "I'd like the fish and chips, please"? My in-laws do the former, and I think it comes across as rude, even if they're not trying to be impolite.
A: Well, I guess it could be worse—they're not berating the wait staff or skipping out without tipping—but it wouldn't kill them to be a bit nicer. You don't have to treat your waiter like a long-lost member of your family, but they—like everyone else—deserve basic courtesies like "please" and "thank you."
Lesley Carlin has been writing about travel and etiquette professionally for more than 10 years. As one of the Etiquette Grrls, she is the co-author of "Things You Need to Be Told" and "More Things You Need to Be Told" (Berkley). Have a travel etiquette question of your own? E-mail Lesley at email@example.com.