The Most Obnoxious Airline Passengers, According to Airline Passengers

Published On 11/24/2015 Published On 11/24/2015

Forget what the Department of Child Services says: when it comes to flying these days, you’re better off being a terrible parent than kicking someone’s seat.
At least that’s what airline travelers think, as a full 61% of respondents in’s third-annual airplane etiquette study deemed seat kickers the worst in-flight annoyance, followed closely by inattentive parents (59%). So the takeaway for travelers: "Go ahead and neglect your kids, just LEAVE MY SEAT ALONE!"
Smelly people, loud talkers/music listeners, and excessive drinkers rounded out the top five. You can read the whole study/see the cool infographic here, although some of the other interesting tidbits include:

  • Two-thirds of passengers “dread” sitting next to anyone who dares try and talk to them. So if you’re thinking about chatting up that cute stranger sitting next to you, there’s only a one in three chance you’re not their worst nightmare. Or, on the flip side, here are eight ways to avoid talking to a chatty seatmate.
  • Seat wars are real: 32% of passengers would ban reclining seats from ALL flights, while 26% would only do it to punish the aforementioned seat kickers. And once again proving that seat recliners are the worst people ON THE PLANET, 12% of them acknowledged that nothing would stop them from leaning back -- not even if the person behind them was pregnant.
  • Don’t worry too much about your in-flight breakup going viral: only 10% of respondents said they would record a misbehaving passenger, and only 3% would post it on social media. 

The list of offenders wasn’t just limited to seat kickers, horrible parents, and people with drinking problems. Fourteen other types of passengers made the list, and the odds are good that at some point you’ve been one of them. The complete breakdown:

17. The seat switcher -- 13%
16. Overly flirty passenger -- 13% 
15. Excessive bathroom user -- 24%
14. The undresser (removes shoes, socks, or more) -- 26%
13. PDA couple -- 26%
12. Seat-back grabber -- 27%
11. Pungent foodies -- 30%
10. People who stow bags in the first available spot -- 32%
9. Seat recliner -- 32%
8. The line jumper (rushes to deplane) -- 35%
7. Carry-on baggage offenders -- 38%
6. Chatty Cathy -- 43%      
5. Excessive drinker -- 45%    
4. Loud talker or loud listener of music -- 50%
3. The aromatic passenger -- 50%
2. Inattentive parents -- 59%
1. Rear seat kicker -- 61%

The study was conducted by on 1,019 randomly selected US residents 18 and over, between August 7th-9th, 2015.

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Matt Meltzer is a staff writer for Thrillist. Follow him @mmeltrez.



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