Friday Funny: In Flight Furies

Who is the most aggravating person on the flight? The seat kicker behind you trumps the bad parent, according to a new study on airplane etiquette.

Every flight has its own cast of annoying characters: The Boozer. The Chatty Cathy. The Undresser. The Inattentive Parents. But of all the many annoying people you can encounter during a flight, The Rear Seat Kicker reigns supreme when it comes to infuriating fellow travelers, according to’s new Airplane Etiquette Study.

airplane etiquette
Credit: Digital Vision

“As we embark on 2017, millions and millions of people will be taking to the air this year, and should know that there’s no better gift you can give to a fellow traveler than respect and generosity,” said John Morrey, vice president and general manager, “The Airplane Etiquette study shows that small acts of decorum can go a long way. After all, as it relates to flights, we are quite literally all in this together.”

A full 64 percent of Americans cited the “Rear Seat Kicker” as the most problematic passenger, followed by “Inattentive Parents” — parents who have no control over, or pay no attention to, their crying, whining or misbehaved children.

Interestingly enough, “The Boozer” — a drunken, disruptive person — annoys 49% of his fellow passengers, but only 12% of Americans admit to consuming more than two alcoholic drinks when flying.

“Chatty Cathy” — the neighbor who strikes up conversation and won’t stop — frustrates 40% of American fliers. Nearly two-thirds (65%) report that they “dread” sitting next to someone who talks too much. On the whole, more than one-third (35%) of Americans would pay extra to be seated in a “designated quiet zone,” should the airline offer one.

Here’s the full ranked list of onboard etiquette violators:

  1. The Rear Seat Kicker (64%)
  2. Inattentive Parents (59%)
  3. The Aromatic Passenger (55%)
  4. The Audio Insensitive (49%)
  5. The Boozer (49%)
  6. Chatty Cathy (40%)
  7. The Queue Jumper (35%)
  8. Seat-Back Guy (35%)
  9. The Armrest Hog (34%)
  10. Pungent Foodies (30%)
  11. The Undresser (28%)
  12. The Amorous (28%)
  13. The Mad Bladder (22%)
  14. The Single and Ready to Mingle (18%)

A Nation Divided

When it comes to being divisive, nobody beats “Seat-Back Guy” — the passenger who reclines his seat fully as soon as the plane takes off — who is disliked by 35% of Americans. A full 37% of Americans would choose to have reclining seats banned entirely, or at least restricted to set times on short-haul flights.

However, more than half (53%) of Americans do recline their seats when flying, while 23% report that they do not because they deem it “improper etiquette.” An additional 11% do not recline because they feel it is uncomfortable. A quarter of respondents claim that they would recline their seat for retaliatory reasons, if the passenger behind them “showed aggressive behavior or was rude.” A full 11% of those who claim to recline would do so even if the passenger behind them was “noticeably pregnant.”

Nobody Loves A Lover

Just under 3% of Americans report having “been physically intimate” with a fellow passenger aboard a plane. Despite the rarity of such activity, “The Amorous” passengers — couples who display an “inappropriate level of public affection” towards one another — earned the disapproval of 28% of Americans.

As annoyed as they may be, many Americans are reluctant to address misbehaving passengers directly. Sixty-two percent would choose to alert the flight attendant to handle the problem, while 33% would endure in silence. One in 10 respondents would “confront a misbehaving passenger directly.” Many annoyed passengers turn to technology to express their outrage: 13% would record the offending behavior via their phone camera, and 5% would turn to social media: 3% would “shame a fellow passenger’s behavior via social channels,” while 2% would simply “tweet about it.”

Despite the long list of behaviors that incur passengers’ ire in-flight, all courtesy is not lost onboard: 79% feel that “for the most part, fellow passengers are considerate of one another,” and 74% “thoroughly clean their space before leaving the plane.” Four in 10 fliers report having helped another passenger with luggage, while 28% have offered up their seat to another.