Sometimes when I go on a short 1 hour flight, I usually just like to watch the take-off, have a drink and read the in-flight catalogue (just out of interest) and watch the landing.

In some airlines, for example Ryanair, you have to ask for the in-flight catalogue.

Is it impolite to do so if I have no intention of purchasing an item?

Do these flights usually have quite a few catalogues, as I don’t want to deprive the people who want to buy?

  • 9
    Is it impolite to browse products in a store with no intention of buying? Even though you might be getting in the way of customers there to buy something? No :-)
    – davnicwil
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 7:17
  • 5
    I'm actually shocked that a low-budget airline like Ryanair would make you ask for the catalog. My experience on cheaper airlines is they spend the entire flight trying to sell you stuff in order to compensate for the lower fares. Not having enough catalogs for everyone just seems like a poor business decision on their part. Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 20:11
  • What's the country of the airline? Or country of dpearture? Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 10:43

4 Answers 4


Put it this way. Suppose they kept copies of Nature Magazine for passengers to read on request. Would it be impolite to ask for a copy? You have no intention of buying anything, since in our fantasy world, Nature is entirely editorial and has no advertisements.

Of course not. The magazine is there for you to browse to pass the time.

The same applies to in-flight catalogues.

Similarly, it is not rude to walk into a retail store to browse, with no particular intent of buying. Obviously, the shopkeeper is perfectly delighted for this visit, because of the chance the fine merchandise will sway you into a purchase. Every visit is a roll of the dice which costs him almost nothing, so he's sure to win on average. The catalogue publisher thinks the same.

  • 16
    If the company doesn't find impolite to remind you multiple times during the flight that in-flight purchases are an option you should explore, I also don't see what's wrong in actually acquainting yourself with the offer :). You never know, you might find something you like. Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 7:57
  • 13
    About shops. It reminds me that an increasing number of fashion/apparel shops are concerned about people walking in, trying the size of different pieces, then buy them online at cheaper price. A few stores of which I do have record are asking for a "sizing fee" (e.g. 10€ on shoes) that will be discounted from price if customer buys anything. It's nicknamed the Amazon fee or similarly Yoox fee Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 11:34
  • 5
    @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ > I'm in Belgium myself and if any shop ever asked me a fee for trying shoes, I certainly would immediately leave and find another or simply go online. Having you customers pay for this is certainly the worst way I can imagine to mitigate the "online stores" issue...
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 15:06
  • 14
    Which is funny, because I do the exact opposite. I have Amazon up on my broswer as I shop retail stores, so I can read reviews and get technica details bot on tge package. Having fleeced Amazon for all this data they gave away for free, I then buy the item retail. I want the item, not a wait. Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 16:56

Put it this way. You ask for a catalog, you just don't disclose that you already have no intention to buy, because you don't have to, then start reading it.

After you finish, you return it to the attendants.

You simply didn't find anything interesting/worth to buy

No one is obligated to buy anything. How often... have you entered a shop, looked and walked away? ... browsed Amazon/eBay looking for something and ordered nothing? ... asked for the drink list at a cocktail bar and walked away because they are too expensive?

Of course, you are preventing someone else who is interested in buying staff from reading the catalogue if they run out of stock.

But again, put it like this: it's airline choice how many copies to print. And the airline is the one making money. You have paid your ticket and owe them nothing else.

  • 1
    "No one is obligated to buy anything. How often... have you entered a shop, looked and walked away? " - there is an exception to this, small tourist shops, especially in Egypt are prone to do almost anything short of forcing you at gunpoint to buy something. If you dare enter a small souvenir shop and try to leave without buying anything, the owner will scream at you, beg at you, threaten you, guilt-trip you, and you will have to be very determined to be able to leave without buying.
    – vsz
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 19:37

No it isn't impolite to kindly ask for an in-flight catalogue, irrespective if your intention to buy or not. The flight attendants would be more than happy to give you a catalogue.


No because the main transaction is your payment for the flight

Everything else is incidental or supports it.

The comparison you may be thinking of is 'person walks into a bar, looks at drinks menu, buys none, hangs out for an hour and then leaves. Bartender sees them leaving and thinks 'how rude'.

However that is NOT the situation with an airline seat. It's more akin to 'person walks into a bar, pays bartender $300 tip to sit down for a bit. Person leaves after an hour. Bartender tells story of most polite customer ever :)

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