Seat Kicking and Bad Parenting Top List of Worst In-Flight Behaviors

Jan 19, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Airline passengers who kick the seatback in front of them and inattentive parents are the top culprits for ruining a flight experience. These revelations are courtesy of the annual Expedia Airplane Etiquette Study.

To determine the most aggravating behaviors aboard an airplane, Expedia partnered with independent research company GfK to poll 1,005 Americans over age 18 on which in-flight behaviors they found the most reprehensible.

According to the study, these are the top offenders for bad in-flight etiquette:

The Rear Seat Kicker: This was the most aggravating passenger to contend with, as nearly two-thirds of respondents identified kicking the seat as the worst behavior. Passengers also use the seat back as a retaliation tool; 25% of respondents said they would fully recline their seat if the person behind them was being rude or aggressive.

Bad Children and Inattentive Parents: Coming in a close second were children, and ultimately their parents. 59% of those responding ranked “parents who have no control over, or pay no attention to, their crying, whining or misbehaved children” as their biggest frustration in the air. The situation has caused some carriers, including AirAsia and Singapore’s Scoot Airlines, to create “child-free” zones on aircraft.

Poor Hygiene: Over half of those surveyed said passengers with poor hygiene or those who wear too much cologne were among the worst flyers in the sky. Odors may not necessarily be limited to personal habits, as certain foods can also create an unpleasant cabin.

TIE: The Loud and The Drunk: Tied for fourth were two habits that can sometimes go hand in hand. Nearly half of passengers said the “audio insensitive” (those who spend their flight talking or listening to music too loud) and those who drink too much were equally aggravating. Although drunken flyers have caused passengers and crew to take action, the publicized incidents may be more of the exception than the rule. When asked, only 12% of passengers said they have more than two drinks when flying.

The Talkative: The “Chatty Cathy,” or the over-talkative passenger, ranked fifth on the list of most annoying passengers, with 40% rating this passenger as the most annoying. While there’s nothing wrong with breaking the ice with a rowmate, over one-third of passengers said they would just as well sit in a designated quiet zone of an aircraft.

The Line Jumper: Passengers who are in too much of a hurry to board their aircraft are also considered an annoyance to fellow flyers. 35% of flyers found line jumpers to be at the top of their frustrations. Good etiquette dictates falling in line when the boarding agent calls for it and not forming unnecessary lines ahead of time.

Reclining seats is a divisive issue, according to the study. Image courtesy of Maxim Petrichuk via Getty Images.

On Seat Reclining: Americans also found frustrations in the issue of whether or not to recline their seats during a flight. While more than half of passengers admitted to reclining their seat at cruising altitude, just over one-third of passengers would be okay if reclining seats were banned on flights. However, more people are becoming more cognizant of the seatback battle, as nearly one-quarter of respondents said they don’t recline the seat because it is “poor etiquette,” while another 11% said they feel uncomfortable when the seat is reclined.

Deal or No Deal: How do people deal with rude flyers in the air? The majority of those asked said they would alert the flight attendant to deal with the situation, while one-third said they would deal with the annoyance in silence. One in 10 would deal with the situation head-on, while 13% said they would record the situation with their cell phones (although only 5% would air their grievances or shame fellow passengers on social media).

The Friendly Skies? Although the list of annoyances seems to grow every year, passengers polled still say flying is an enjoyable experience. An overwhelming 79% of those polled said passengers are overall considerate of one another, while three out of four say they clean their seat area before deplaning. And clearly some actions are more excusable than others. Among the behaviors at the bottom of the aggravation list are the “single and ready to mingle,” the “mad bladder” passenger and the “amorous couple.”

Featured image courtesy of craftvision via Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.