Seat kickers, inattentive parents top list of airplane annoyances

A top-notch peeve combo: unsupervised child kicking another passenger’s seat.
Oktay Ortakcioglu/Getty Images
A top-notch peeve combo: unsupervised child kicking another passenger’s seat.

What would you say is the most annoying airplane passenger behavior? Chances are you’ll find it on a list of peeves released last week by Expedia. The company’s third annual airline etiquette survey found the most irksome passenger behavior to be the maddening seat-kicking.

“Inside a packed plane at 30,000 feet, both good behavior and bad behavior are amplified,” said John Morrey, vice president and general manager of Expedia. “Respecting our fellow passengers is a small but important gift we can all give each other.”

In the survey of more than 1,000 passengers conducted at random airports over the summer, 61 percent of Americans said those who kick the back of their seat like a hyperactive Rockette are the most infuriating. Coming in second at 59 percent are inattentive parents who exhibit little control over their children. After that, hygienically-challenged travelers — otherwise known as aromatic fliers waiting to get home to bathe — came in at 50 percent.


Rounding out the top 10 most annoying fellow passengers were loud talkers (50 percent), boozy fliers (45 percent), chatty seatmates (43 percent), carry-on baggage offenders (38 percent), passengers who jump the line to get off the plane (35 percent), and tied for least-but-still-plenty-annoying (32 percent), the seat recliner and inconsiderate types who hog overhead bins and store their baggage in the first available spot.

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It seems that many passengers are still taking the childhood commandment “Don’t talk to strangers” to heart. Three-quarters of Americans are OK with a little seatmate chat, but 66 percent say they dread sitting next to a verbose Veronica and don’t want to make friends with the person sitting beside them. Only 16 percent said they fly hoping to converse with new people. A third of those surveyed said they would happily pay more to sit in a designated quiet section if an airline offered one.

Surprisingly, a third of respondents said they would like to see reclining seats banned.

Even with all that bothersome behavior, 75 percent of those surveyed said they found that most of their fellow passengers were considerate, 50 percent think air travel is fun and exciting, and 41 percent have helped a stranger with luggage. Perhaps the old United Airlines slogan of “Fly the Friendly Skies” still holds true — at least until the person next to you tries to have a conversation.

Christopher Muther can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.