Passenger Rights

Reality Check: Are You a Problem Passenger?

Expedia’s just-released “Airplane Etiquette Study” identifies the 17 most-annoying traveler types. You’re not on the list, are you?

Even surrounded by the most courteous and considerate fellow travelers, flying ranks as one of life’s high-stress experiences. Long lines. Crowded waiting areas. Full planes. Crusher airline seats. Cancelled or delayed flights. Harried customer-service workers. The very thought of an airline trip is enough to raise one’s blood pressure.

Add to that toxic mix of irritants one or more passengers who can’t be bothered to align their behavior with generally accepted norms and you have a recipe for air rage, your own or others’.

If asked, most flyers would probably swear that they were among the good guys, models of traveler decorum. But is that true, or are they—are we—guilty of at least some of the bad behavior that contributes to other travelers’ discomfort?

To ensure that you’re not part of the problem, consider which lapses in common courtesy most irritate other travelers. According to Expedia’s just-released “Airplane Etiquette Study,” the 17 most-annoying traveler types are as follows:

  1. Rear Seat Kicker (cited by 61% of respondents)
  2. Inattentive Parents (59%)
  3. The Aromatic Passenger (50%)
  4. The Audio Insensitive (talking or music) (50%)
  5. The Boozer (45%)
  6. Chatty Cathy (43%)
  7. Carry-On Baggage Offenders (38%)
  8. The Queue Jumper (rushes to deplane) (35%)
  9. Seat-Back Guy (the seat recliner) (32%)
  10. Overhead Bin Inconsiderate (stows bag in first available spot, rather than nearest to his/her seat) (32%)
  11. Pungent Foodies (30%)
  12. Back Seat Grabber (27%)
  13. The Amorous (inappropriate affection levels) (26%)
  14. Undresser (removes shoes, socks, or more) (26%)
  15. Mad Bladder (window seat passenger who makes repeat bathroom visits) (24%)
  16. The Single and Ready to Mingle (13%)
  17. The Seat Switcher (13%)

In my travels, I’ve encountered most if not all of the annoying types identified in the Expedia study. While I’d agree in rating seat-kicking as among the most egregious inflight behavior, I would have ranked seat-reclining among the top-three annoyances as well. But quibbles with ranking order aside, the Expedia list looks to be accurate and comprehensive.

More importantly, I wholeheartedly believe I’ve been mostly innocent of any of the cited behaviors. The one exception: that time I brought an In-N-Out burger onboard and ate it during the flight. In that case, I was a Pungent Foodie, no doubt. It must have been torture for my seatmates. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

Otherwise, I see myself as a mostly model flyer. I can only hope my fellow passengers would agree.

Reader Reality Check

Did Expedia get it right in identifying the worst examples of inflight misbehavior?

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By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.