The Most Annoying Airline Passenger Is …

The results are in. Out of all the bad behaviors, from boozing it up to bad parenting to excessive chatting and being a stinky seat mate, one draws the most ire: rear seat kicking.

According to a study released on Tuesday by travel giant Expedia, rear seat kickers are the most annoying airline passenger – a dubious distinction they’ve now earned for the third year in a row.

They beat out inattentive parents, ‘aromatic’ passengers, seat recliners and more in the fourth annual Expedia Airplane Etiquette Study. The survey was based on feedback from just over 1,000 Americans aged over 18. John Morrey,’s vice president and general manager, said in a press release:

As we embark on 2017, millions and millions of people will be taking to the air this year, and should know that there’s no better gift you can give to a fellow traveler than respect and generosity. The Airplane Etiquette study shows that small acts of decorum can go a long way. After all, as it relates to flights, we are quite literally all in this together.

The Stats

The “Rear Seat Kicker” was outed as the most aggravating passenger by 64 per cent of Americans, beating out “Inattentive Parents” (59 per cent), those who were defined as “parents who have no control over, or pay no attention to, their crying, whining or misbehaved children.”

Those with bad hygiene or who had drenched themselves in perfume or cologne, dubbed “Aromatic” passengers, were the third least-liked, drawing 55 per cent of the vote. The “Audio Insensitive” (a passenger who listens to their music or talks loudly) and the “Boozer”, that person who is drunk and disruptive on a flight, were next, with 49 per cent of survey respondents nominating them as annoying.

The neighbor who strikes up an uninvited conversation with their seat mate and won’t stop was also maligned, frustrating 40 per cent of fliers.

But while the survey found plenty of contempt for bad behavior, many people were reluctant to put the kibosh on it. It found 62 per cent wouldn’t handle an issue directly themselves, preferring a flight attendant to sort out the issue. But a whopping 33 per cent of respondents said they would simply endure the behavior in silence.

One in ten respondents would “confront a misbehaving passenger directly,” while 13 percent would record the offending behavior via their phone camera. And five percent would turn to social media: 3 percent would “shame a fellow passenger’s behavior via social channels,” while 2 percent would simply “tweet about it”.

But it’s not all bad news

The survey also found 79 per cent feel that fellow passengers are generally considerate of one another. It also found not all behavior onboard was bad, with four in 10 fliers reporting having helped another passenger with luggage. Also, 28 per cent said they had offered up their seat to someone else.

Why are people so badly behaved on planes?

Dale Archer, M.D., a clinical psychiatrist and the author of Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional, explains in this blog in Psychology Today:

Simple, we are becoming a nation of rude narcissists. Basic, decent behavior has been lost with day-to-day living in a smartphone, computer screen world where reality stars serve as role models. The sense of entitlement and privilege is exemplified by the thought: “I want to do what I want, when I want…. and I will!”

Now we know who are the most annoying plane passengers, and what drives some of their behavior, the bigger question is: how do you deal with them? As much as you’d like to just jam your seat back suddenly during meal time and “accidentally” knock over their juice and sandwich, that’s not the best approach.

The first thing you should do is talk to a flight attendant. Don’t sit there in silence. Remember, you also have a right to enjoy your flight. See if it’s possible to be moved to a different seat. If that’s not possible, hopefully the passenger has taken some advice from the flight attendant. If not, all you can do is keep your cool. You’ll have to stay seat mates with the offending passenger. Take the high road, try to defuse the situation and don’t make it worse. Remember, this situation isn’t forever and you’ll soon be off the plane.

Annoying passenger rankings

The full list of aggravating passenger behavior according to the Expedia study*:

  1. The Rear Seat Kicker (cited by 64 per cent of respondents)
  2. Inattentive Parents (59 per cent)
  3. The Aromatic Passenger (55 per cent)
  4. The Audio Insensitive (49 per cent)
  5. The Boozer (49 per cent)
  6. Chatty Cathy (40 per cent)
  7. The Queue Jumper (35 per cent)
  8. Seat-Back Guy (35 per cent)
  9. The Armrest Hog (34 per cent)
  10. Pungent Foodies (30 per cent)
  11. The Undresser (28 per cent)
  12. The Amorous (28 per cent)
  13. The Mad Bladder (22 per cent)
  14. The Single and Ready to Mingle (18 per cent)

The study was commissioned by Expedia and carried out by GfK, an independent global market research company.

* Survey respondents were given the option of choosing more than one answer.

What do you think of this study? Is the Rear Seat Kicker the most annoying flyer? Perhaps you think other flyers like the Inattentive Parents or the The Boozer are worse? Let us know your thoughts and comments below. If you enjoyed this story, please share.

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