Is Courtesy Contagious?

My Well Mannered Traveler column on MSNBC.com this week is all about courtesy – and the efforts to encourage it – on buses, subways, and trains. Many of the strategies public transit agencies are trying out could help air travelers get along with each other inside airports and on airplanes as well.

For example, wouldn’t you like to be able to point at this poster from NJ Transit next time there’s a loudmouth on their cell phone sitting next to you in an airport gate area?

One strategy I didn’t get to include in the column this week comes from Jodi R.R. Smith, of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, who created her own subway courtesy campaign:

“…. Since I boarded the train at an early stop, there were almost always seats. I would sit, until I saw someone who needed the seat more than I did. Then in a firm tone, I would offer my seat… It was interesting to notice that on the days that I offered my seat, those around me, at subsequent stops, would also offer their seats to those in need. However, on days when I sat with my nose in a book, rarely would any seats be offered. Remember, your good example can set off a positive chain reaction.”