How to Deal with the Most Hated Passenger

February 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

When given the opportunity to vent a little travel rage without getting arrested, 1,000 travelers took the opportunity to air their top grievances in Expedia’s annual Airplane Etiquette Survey.

British Airways 747-400 World Traveller cabinThe number one pet peeve of most travelers? The person who repeatedly kicks the back of their seat received 61 percent of the votes. The complaint ranged from children’s repeated thumps with their shoes to the constant pressure of the knees in the back of the seat from the long-legged passenger behind them.

And, while we’re talking about feet, survey participants also griped about fellow travelers who seem unaware that their bare or stockinged feet smell. When did removing shoes in an airplane become a thing? Maybe it has something to do with airport security.

Most surprising was the response given by travelers when asked what they do when they encounter this or any of the other problems with their fellow passengers: they don’t say anything. Nearly 50 percent suffer silently and try to ignore the situation. I understand this decision; it’s not like you can go anywhere if the conversation goes south.

There is another option, says Sarah Gavin, Expedia spokesperson. She’s well-versed in travel etiquette being the parent of four children. Her advice? “Give them the benefit of the doubt. You can confront in a way that’s kind.”

Gavin suggests starting the conversation this way: “You probably don’t realize that…” She has also bought drinks for travelers who find themselves seated near her brood. This strategy could backfire, though, since the fifth most hated passenger is the person who consumes too much alcohol.

Gavin suggests remembering something taught in kindergarten the next time you fly: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Don’t be a pain to someone else.

What do you do when you’re seated near a passenger who triggers one of your pet peeves? Do you confront them, say something politely, or sit in silence? What’s your go-to tactic in dealing with unwanted passenger behavior? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

Photo credit: Rene Ehrhardt (Flickr/Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons)

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Matt Sill

Matt Sill is the Marketing Product Manager for Travelpro Products, creators of the original Rollaboard luggage, carry-on luggage, and suitcases.

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