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New Traveler Survey Ranks the Top 20 Annoying Types of Airline Passengers

News Airports + Flying
by Olivia Harden Mar 4, 2022

When flying, you’re at mercy of your neighbors with very little space between you — particularly when you book economy class. The best-case scenario is that your fellow passengers have a solid understanding of aircraft etiquette, but if not, the most annoying passengers can make even the shortest flights feel like they’re dragging on with no end in sight.

Whether it’s kicking your seat, drunk passengers, or noisy children, we all have behaviors that annoy us to no end. But are your gripes the same as everyone else’s, or are you making a bigger stink than you should be? The travel blog Only Wanderlust conducted a survey of more than 1500 airline travelers to see what behaviors are the most annoying, and which ones are not so much. Then they broke down 20 types of passengers that people get annoyed at by percent of total responses.

The most annoying travel passengers ranked:

  1. The Kicker — Your seat being kicked — 9 percent.
  2. The Stinker — A passenger with a bad body odor — 8.7 percent.
  3. The Loud & Proud — Other passengers talking loudly — 7.3 percent.
  4. The Leaner — Your seat being pulled or leaned on — 7.3 percent.
  5. The Drunk Flyer — Drunk or tipsy flyers — 7.1 percent.
  6. The Noisy Kid — Crying babies or children — 6.7 percent.
  7. The Recliner — The seat in front of you reclining — 5.9 percent.
  8. The Scented — A passenger wearing strong perfume or cologne — 5.7 percent.
  9. The Not-So-Masked — Passengers not wearing their masks properly — 5.4 percent.
  10. The Loud Sleeper — A passenger snoring — 5.2 percent.
  11. The Stinky Feet — A passenger removing socks or shoes — 4.2 percent.
  12. The Eager — Passengers standing and getting bags as soon as the plane lands — 3.8 percent.
  13. The BYO Meal — A passenger bringing on smelly food — 3.3 percent.
  14. The Weak Bladder — People getting out of their seats regularly — 3.2 percent.
  15. The Chatty Cathy — Your neighbor talking to you through the flight — 3.2 percent.
  16. The Armrest Hog — Your neighbor taking up all of the armrest — 2.7 percent.
  17. The Too Relaxed — A passenger putting their feet up on or between your seat — 2.5 percent.
  18. The Clapper — Passengers applauding when the plane lands — 2.5 percent.
  19. The Manspreader — Passengers spreading their legs, aka manspreading — 2.5 percent.
  20. The Night Owl— Bright phone or tablet screens on night flights — 2 percent.

The recliner ranking as the seventh most annoying behavior at 5.9 percent brings up an interesting debate that seems to come up over and over again: If the seat reclines, why shouldn’t you be able to use it? Two out of three travelers say you have the right to recline, and Alaska Air, American Airlines, and Southwest Airlines told Only Wanderlust that there are no policies on the books for this (other than being in an upright position for takeoff and landing).

So the next time you’re on a flight, be kind to your fellow passengers and flight attendants. Avoid kicking the seat in front of you, and shower before arrival but skip the perfume and cologne. And, if you truly can’t stand the behaviors of other passengers, you can always spring for a more isolated seat in business or first class.

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