Most Annoying Fellow Air Travelers

Rear-seat kickers have displaced inattentive parents as the most annoying fellow travelers on airlines, according to the latest “Expedia Study of In-Flight Etiquette.”

The study, which asked 1,000 Americans to rank the most annoying on-board behaviors of other passengers, also noted smelly passengers, the “audio insensitive,” heavy drinkers and loud, ceaseless talkers.

More than three in four (78%) Americans surveyed agree that “a little small talk is fine, but I prefer to keep to myself during the flight.” Relatively few (16%) use flights as an opportunity to talk with and meet new people, and 65% “dread” the experience of sitting next to a Chatty Cathy.

Only 12% report that they drink more than two alcoholic beverages during air travel, while on board or in the airport. About one in seven (15%) “always or sometimes” use medication or alcohol to help them sleep on a plane. Four out of five also report that they generally cannot sleep on planes.

In the wake of this year’s headline examples of in-flight fights spurred by perceived legroom violations, the survey reveals that 32% of men do not recline their seat, compared with 38% of women. Almost a third (31%) of passengers recline their seats to sleep, with 26% saying they do so when the flight lasts longer than three hours. More than one in 10 (12%) recline immediately after take-off; the same percentage of fliers do so if the person in front of them does.

A full 10% reported that they would recline their seat even if the passenger behind them was noticeably pregnant. More than half (55%) of U.S. flyers do not ask permission of the passenger behind them. More than a third (38%) believe reclining should be banned or at least restricted.

The research also covered the most annoying co-passengers:

  1. Rear-seat kickers (cited by 67% of respondents)
  2. Inattentive parents (64%)
  3. The “aromatic passenger” (56%)
  4. The “audio insensitive,” including either talking or music (51%)
  5. The boozer (50%)
  6. “Chatty Cathy” (43%)
  7. Carry-on baggage offenders (39%)
  8. The armrest hog (38%)
  9. The seat recliner (37%)
  10. The “queue jumper” who rushes to deplane (35%)
  11. The “overhead bin inconsiderate” who stows a bag in the first available spot rather than in one nearest to his or her seat (32%)
  12. “Pungent foodies” (32%)
  13. Grabbers of your seat back (31%)
  14. The “playboy” who reads or watches adult content (30%)
  15. Showers of inappropriate levels of affection (29%)
  16. The window seat passenger who makes repeated bathroom visits (28%)
  17. The “undresser” who removes shoes, socks or more (26%)
  18. The “seat switcher” (13%)