Find Fellow Flyers Annoying? Survey Says You’re Not Alone

by Shelli Stein

Do you ever wonder what flyers find annoying about their fellow seatmates’ behavior in the skies? What constitutes bad inflight behavior may seem different to us all. Annoying things people do flying is a hot topic.

It turns out that many of us agree on the worst offenses. A research firm surveyed 2,000 Americans who travel at least twice a year. Some of the survey findings didn’t surprise me, some did, and I even have a few of my own flying behavior grievances that weren’t even mentioned.

Let’s take a closer look at what the survey found to be the top annoying things people do flying.

The Complete Ranking Of Inflight Annoyances 

Of all the annoying things to deal with on a flight, this is how the 2,000 people surveyed ranked the worst ones.

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No surprise that 54% of people said getting their seat kicked is a major annoyance. To be honest, I thought it would be even higher.

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I was surprised by how many people think reclining seats should be banned (36%). The topic of reclining seats is a hot one. My own observations and experiences tell me that people kicking seats correlates to recline. I notice that kicking often begins when I recline my seat. I always put my seat back up if meals or snacks are served. When I do this, the kicking seems to stop.

I recently had a person behind me kicking and shoving the items under her seat so far forward that they pushed through to occupy space right behind my feet. Strange and annoying, for sure.

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Shoes And Socks Etiquette

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64% of respondents said taking off shoes were permissible but only 20% said that it was okay to take off socks. Bare feet = nasty.

Flight Comfort 

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How long does it take before you start feeling uncomfortable on a longer duration flight? The survey average was three hours. This seemed to align with what I thought (at least in economy), though I would have liked to know what people do at the three hour mark to make themselves more comfortable.

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Starting Inflight Conversations…

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Most of the respondents aren’t super social on planes with more than half not enjoying talking to their seatmate. However, a full third of people did see flying as a way to meet someone new.

…And Ending Inflight Conversation

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The strategies people use to end conversations with a seatmate vary, from putting on headphones to simply telling the person they don’t want to talk.

Personally, I prefer the window seat and use headphones from start to finish on a flight. I do observe that given the multitude of devices people carry with them on planes, fewer and fewer people are holding conversations with seatmates they don’t know.

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Two Things I Find Annoying That Weren’t Mentioned On The Survey

Sometimes it’s a challenge to differentiate between what’s annoying behavior or just plain strange behavior. As I mentioned at the outset of this post, I have a few grievances of my own that didn’t come up on the survey.

Dirty Bathrooms on Planes

Emirates Economy Lavatory

A spotless lavatory

Airplane lavatories being left dirty either by passengers or by crew is a pet peeve of mine. On a recent flight before takeoff, I went to wash my hands in the bathroom. There were three bathrooms in economy class. I went into the first one. Sink was full of water and not draining. In the second bathroom, the floor was soaking wet.

Before trying the third bathroom, I mentioned the condition of the bathrooms to a flight attendant. She replied, “That’s odd, no one has used those bathrooms yet.” Whether it’s passengers who don’t clean up after themselves, or crew that don’t keep the bathrooms in better shape, this falls high on my list of annoying things that happen on planes.

Getting Odd Answers to Questions From Flight Crew

Another pet peeve of mine, which pertains to crew rather than passengers, happened just last week. Maybe I’m naive, but it seems to me flight attendants should know arrival times and whether flights are running on time. I asked a flight attendant about this and she replied, “I don’t care about when we land. I only know when to show up at the gate for the flight.” Annoying, strange, and kind of unprofessional.

What are your biggest annoyances when flying and how do you deal with it?

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Anna April 4, 2019 - 2:05 pm

That flight attendant … Oy vey.

Shelli April 4, 2019 - 2:12 pm

I agree,, Anna. Thanks for reading!


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