Paris plongeurs circa 1933. ‘Vanlifers‘ with a broken shower. Matt Damon’s mullet. The word ‘dirty’ gets thrown around a lot when describing things people don’t like (or which they don’t like the smell of).
The following photo, taken this morning by DMARGE on a Jetstar flight to Sydney (and subsequently posted to Instagram), pungently combines the two: a pair of feet up on an airplane bulkhead.
We’re not just talking about the state of these Superstars (moderately dirty), we’re talking about the action of putting them up on the wall.
Unlike the Great Decline Divide (an unwritten rule against reclining at all on short flights, which no one can agree on), which this viral incident in February brought to a head, this bulkhead behaviour is not a question that has split opinion for decades. It’s pretty simple: you don’t do it.
Or so we thought.
Taking to Instagram, we were proven wrong. 45% of our respondents said it was fine. In a mild state of shock, we interviewed frequent flyer expert and founder of Flight Hacks Immanuel Debeer to ask if we were snobs, or if this act really is unacceptable.
“I think it’s ok to have your feet on the lower part (usually pained black),” Immanuel told us. “The rule is that you should always have a point of contact with the floor (your heel can be on the floor and your toes rested on the bulkhead).”
“Anything higher is a big no no.”
“The bulkhead is a structural component of the aircraft and not designed for your feet. I think it’s a sign of disrespect to have your feet planted up there. The higher your feet, the more disrespectful.”
“If my seat mate did that I would educate them on etiquette (unless said seat mate looked like he/she could break my neck just by looking at it).”
“In any case the bulkhead is not yours and is not included with the price of your ticket so just leave it alone.”
Lizzie Post, etiquette expert and co-president of The Emily Post Institute told DMARGE putting your feet up on the bulk head is a “big no no,” but that “if you do it, make sure to do it in the least invasive way possible.”
In other words: make sure your feet don’t stink.
Zarife Hardy, director of the Australian School of Etiquette, also has some good tips for dealing with this kind of situation (or temptation).
Speaking to 9Honey Travel, Hardy said good etiquette is about making people feel comfortable in your presence.
In delicate situations, Hardy said there a few different paths you can go down, with communication key for all of them.
“Talking to your cabin crew privately is a great place to start – do so in the galley, not in front of others.”
“Politely ask them if they know of any other available seats that you may be able to move to.”
Want more airplane etiquette tips? Watch this (air)space.