Airplanes are cramped and uncomfortable, but we all have to grin and get through it. So here’s how to deal with common airplane annoyances from the people who know best: flight attendants, frequent travelers and an ethics expert:

  • The first airplane annoyance: you’re stuck in the middle seat on a packed flight. Who gets the armrest? Anne Loew is veteran flight attendant. She says the person is the middle always gets the armrests. After all they did get the short end of the seating stick. 

  • Next up: you’ve got a group of rowdy kids making noise, or a seat mate blaring music. Kirk Hansen is an ethics expert from Santa Clara University in California. He says if you’re sensitive to noise, carry ear plugs. In the case of rowdy kids, first give them and the parents the eye. If it continues ask the parents politely to control the kicking. Your final step is to ask a flight attendant to handle it.

  • How about when your seatmate brings a smelly meal on board and proceeds to slurp it down? All our experts agree there’s nothing you can do here. James Vesper is a frequent traveler. In a recent article he says he just breathes through his mouth until they’re done.

  • Finally, to recline or not to recline? Flight attendant Ann Loew says some people don’t recline because airplanes are a lot tighter than they used to be, and no one wants a seatback in their lap. However not everyone agrees. Anna Post is the great granddaughter of Emily Post and an etiquette expert in her own right. She says the airline gives you the option to recline and it’s yours for the taking. There’s no need to ask permission.

  • One more tip from our experts: What do you do if you’re in the window seat and you have to go to bathroom? They say instead of waiting until you’re about to burst, talk to your seatmates as soon as you’re seated and agree that every 90 minutes or so, everyone will get up and use the facilities.