The biggest pain in the butt on an airplane is literally a pain in your butt, according to a new Expedia survey.
The No. 1 most hated passenger is the one who spends his/her time kicking the back of your seat. Getting 61% of the vote for the most annoying, the seat kicker edged out Inattentive Parent (59%) for the top “we-hate-your-guts” spot, according to Expedia’s 2015 Airplane Etiquette, which asked more than 1,000 adults in August about their pet peeves.
If you think the above-mentioned miscreants stink, you’ll really hate No. 3: the smelly passenger, cited by half the respondents to the survey. The odor might be a result of failure to bathe or it could be merely too much cologne, but whatever it is, these passengers leave us breathless.
We’re also not fond of people who play their music too loudly, drink too much, talk too much and carry on too much (as in bags).
Expedia's survey shows...
What's a beleaguered passenger to do?
If the Rude and Crude twins happen to be on your flight, the survey asked, what would you do?
Almost half would suffer in silence, the survey said; a little more than a fifth would confront the person.
There is a way to approach someone that doesn’t provoke a fistfight, said Sarah Gavin, an Expedia spokesperson.
Try a little kindness
As a mom of four, Gavin said she tries to model appropriate behavior for her children, ages 11, 10, 9 and 7.
“I think the Golden Rule applies in the air just as much in kindergarten,” Gavin said. You can begin a conversation by saying, “You probably don’t realize that…”
In starting a conversation that way, you “give them the benefit of the doubt,” Gavin said. “You can confront someone in a way that is kind.”
Travel is tough at any time of the year, she said, and especially at the holidays. “You don’t know what someone else’s travel day looks like,” she said, so a compassionate approach is called for.
"I think the Golden Rule applies in the air just as much in kindergarten. You don't know what someone else's travel day looks like."
Sarah Gavin, Expedia spokesperson
But it doesn't appear that the Golden Rule is foremost in the mind of some passengers. A tenth of people said they'd recline their seat -- and this continues to be a sore spot with many travelers -- even if the person behind them were quite pregnant.
As a mom traveling with four children, Gavin tries to head off problems with her fellow passengers before they happen She often buys drinks for people sitting near her brood as a goodwill gesture — something she learned from a a mom who was traveling with a baby.
Gavin is still surprised by a behavior that hit the list at No. 14: undressing on the plane, something that 26% of respondents disliked.
Undressing? Well, yes. People will change into jammies on long flights, she said.
The final romantic frontier
And speaking of undressing, No. 13 on the most dreaded list are those who engage in inappropriate displays of public affection.
Expedia also notes, in an aside, that 1% of U.S. fliers say they are members of the mile-high club, which means very close encounters of the amorous kind.
About 64 million people flew in January alone, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and 1% of that is 640,000, which is almost too much to process. Of course, that 64 million figure doesn’t take into account frequent fliers, which would lower that number considerably.
And may I remind you that there is nothing at all romantic about gaining that membership in an airplane bathroom, which is a mosh pit of germs?