Most annoying passengers

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No matter how often you travel, there will always be the one passenger you hope not to be stuck beside. Whether it’s a back seat kicker or someone with less than perfect hygiene, there’s always someone who gets on our nerves.

According to Expedia’s Airplane Etiquette survey, back seat kickers annoy Aussies the most, with 77 per cent of people naming these pesky passengers as their least favourite. Most of you will hardly find this surprising, there really is nothing worse than to constantly feel a foot through the back of your seat.

Inattentive parents did, however, come a close second, with 75 per cent of people ranking them as being annoying and the aromatic passenger, someone with poor hygiene or wearing too much fragrance, got up the nose of 61 per cent of those asked.

So, what other type of passengers do you like to avoid in the air? Here’s top 10 ranked in order.

  1. Back Seat Kickers
  2. Inattentive Parents
  3. The Aromatic Passenger
  4. The Boozer
  5. The Audio Insensitive
  6. The Recliner
  7. Chatty Cathy
  8. Pungent Foodies
  9. Mad Bladder
  10. The Amorous

“Having a pleasant flight largely depends on cooperation from fellow passengers,” said Kelly Cull, Travel Expert, “It doesn’t matter if it’s a short or long flight, as Aussies gear up for the summer holidays, we should remember that a little consideration goes a long way to ensure everyone enjoys their trip.”

It seems we also enjoy our own company when we travel, with 38 per cent strongly agreeing that “small talk is fine”, but a flight is a time to be alone. Some (18 per cent) would take it one step further by actually paying extra to be in a quiet zone. However, three per cent did admit that they used flights as an excuse to meet and talk to people.

What type of passenger are you? Do you recognises yourself on the list? Or have you had experience with such a passenger?

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Written by Debbie McTaggart


Total Comments: 43
  1. 0

    I try to put this as politely as possible, a person who is essentially wider than the seat.
    Yes a large person as in most cases the seats are desgin and tested, by a slighter build person.
    Even a short trip can be annoying.

    • 0

      You have pretty well hit the worst thing that can happen. The rest of the list is rarely a problem for more than a few fleeting moments.
      My wife was unfortunate enough to be sitting next to a really really obese man on a flight from Denver to Frankfurt earlier in the year. Apart from the obvious overflow problems the guy sweated like a pig and then, as he dozed, ended up further in my wife’s space. She was not exactly a happy chappy at the other end. I offered to swap as we were in different parts of the plane but she insisted that this was her seat (???) so had to accept the verdict. Lucky me!
      Never mind a short trip. An 8 hour flight is a different story though and airlines need to provide more wid seating or alternatively ask passenger weight and make huge people buy the adjacent seat as well. That would start a conversation!

  2. 0

    When I joined the travel industry back in 1968, the chap I was taking over from said “there are two things to remember, the travelling public can be the most arrogant and next year will be worse” – – and that is still pretty much correct.

    • 0

      Maybe so but the arrogance of the airlines is getting worse as well. There seems t be a complete forgetfulness that the passengers are also the paying public which is the only reason the airlines can exist.

    • 0

      The individual airline requests type of seat and pitch between seats.
      Cramps, and uncomfortable seats make for unhappy passengers.
      A false smile dose not correct it.

    • 0

      Stoker: my experience is that the travelling public is generally very good.
      I could give you 2 accounts of stewards who have faced instant dismissal though.

  3. 0

    Leg jigglers are really annoying, oh and sniffers too. Agree with Chris that those who are wider than their seat should buy a bigger seat. I now politely ask seat kickers, audio insensitive, jigglers and sniffers to desist. My husband has a mad bladder so always requests an aisle seat.

    • 0

      My experience is that you have to give it a little time and people settle in.

    • 0

      Well lucky you Mick. One leg jiggler in particular just kept it up, stopped for a very short time and then commenced the jiggle once more. Sniffers, I offer them a tissue pack.

    • 0

      I have flown the long haul flight man times, Perth-Copenhagen, I agree with the most of what is written except for what Arisaid commented on. Have You ever thought or asked “the leg jiggler” have he/she Parkinsons Disease. I know What it’s like to “jiggle” a leg. It’s embarrasing, painful. Next Month I am taking that same flight. This time both ways – Business Class – but it costs 3 times the “the sardine class. With thouhts of my fellow travellers.

      My main gripe is sittning next to males who spread their legs and take up my leg space. Is it because “

    • 0

      They might sqash the family jewels” Sorry fella’s but You can be a på in in the butt sometims.

    • 0

      I did ask the “leg jiggler” if he had Parkinsons and he didn’t. Now we save for longer and travel business class.

  4. 0

    A computer nerd on the aisle seat ..who uses the plane as an office..” Excuse me” means a 15 minute wait to visit the little girls room….

  5. 0

    Agree entirely with the list. From experience I have learned to save up and spend the extra on business class fares, on long haul, at least. Problems mostly disappear. The feral parents and their offspring usually travel cattle class.

    • 0

      We always fly cattle class and generally have no problems.
      Our only memorable problem was with a Chinese ‘new riche’ family which tried it on from the moment they boarded. Last laugh to my dear wife who, with her ski boot bag on back, inadvertently send the main offender (who just stood in the aisle after everybody in front of her had exited) flying. I don’t normally cheer when something like that happens but could not contain myself on this occasion. Priceless.

    • 0

      Love it Mick. There are those times when people have to be put in their place, sometimes it is on their arse.
      Can’t say I have ever had any really unpleasant experiences when flying but I do know that now they are available I will be taking advantage of the extra leg room seats in future.

  6. 0


  7. 0

    OMG! Yes, all of the above but also, the passengers who have so much hand luggage and extra bags that they take up so much space in the overhead lockers.
    My worst experience on a long hsul flight was being trapped in the middle seat between two “large” passengers. One smothered in Duty Free perfume and the other, a highly agitated anxious flyer. When we landed to refuel I requested a seat change as by then I had the start of a migraine.

    • 0

      The carryon luggage can be a real issue. Not the first time we have gotten to our seats with our overhead lockers full of rather large bags. I find it totally offensive that airlines do not regulate travellers who bring on items which do not meet the rules and/or multiple items. I am of the opinion that passengers should not have to store their own carryons half way down the plane because others have hogged more than their allowable storage area.

  8. 0

    My pet hate is the people with heaps of hand luggage who hog the lockers, fill the space above them and then wander up and down the aisle looking for more space to stuff their things into. It surprises me that some airlines allow so much hand luggage. Surely it should only be what fits into your locker space above you. I must say I am sorry to see the recliner on the list. As long as they are upright during landing and takeoff and meals surely people have a right to recline the seats and try to sleep. That’s what the recliner seats are for! Perhaps the people who complain about this should be on the list of annoying passengers.

    • 0

      Think I covered this above. I agree.

    • 0

      I totally agree re the luggage.
      Reclining —- that depends on the length of the flight. I do not think it is necessary to recline a seat on short haul flights of up to 2m- 3 hours. I often catch a train from my home into the city and that takes over two hours and no-one expects (or gets) reclining seats and I really don’t think anyone would think of having them so what makes people who travel by plane for such a short time think they should be able to fully recline their seat at the discomfort of others.
      Long haul flights are a little different but too many people are not considerate of others in respect to this.

  9. 0

    Unfortunately, these people are a fact of life and sharing the world with us. How you react to their different/irritating behaviour is, of course, up to you. To totally ignore or display a brief and noticeable expression of total disgust is my response. I look upon this kind of reaction to others’ abhorrent behaviour, odour (stench), manners, etc as an exercise in self discipline whilst not lowering myself to their “under a rock” status.

  10. 0

    Nobody has mentioned the strobe light operator. On a long flight from London we first encountered him with an armful of carry on bags that were shoved in to every available locker including the one above that I was putting my bag in to at the time. He was a grade A ignoramus – the usual constantly fidgeting, pick at the food and shove the seat back in you face ASAP person. We will call him Taffy. (From his accent he was fresh out of the Welsh Valleys and probably not a regular flyer – I hope not anyway.) No reflection on the Welsh – I love most of them.
    Fortunately, or so I thought, he was seated across the aisle and slightly in front. When everyone else was asleep for hours and all was dark, ‘Taffy’ still has his reading light on. I managed to mentally block that out and had drifted in to a fitful sleep when he pulled his master trick.
    He had a large white thick book on his lap. He decided that he needed to rapidly flick through the pages past his thumb, thus reflecting the reading light, the only light on in the entire cabin, straight in to my eyes.
    Have you ever been woken from sleep on an aeroplane with a strobe light in you eyes? My reaction trying to get awake as quickly as possible was, God! what is going on? Must be an emergency! This rapidly changed to a hatred of ‘Taffy’ that remains to this day. Justifiable homicide? I thought so at the time.

    The other thing that riles, is being asked to pay for excess baggage when the lard arse behind you at the desk weighs nearly twice as much as you and all your baggage combined and gets waived through. This person then overhangs the seat either side. Sorry, but if you choose to constantly eat all the pies you should pay a premium. A BMI surcharge. Never, ever, agree to raise your arm rest to give this individual more room. I make no apologies for not being polite.

    • 0

      We share a few sentiments here.
      First the passenger who fills YOUR overhead room with his/her numerous and/or oversize bags. Ditto.
      Second the reader. Don’t worry as he’ll hit the wall at the other end. The sleepers will be raring to go whilst those who choose to not get 40 winks will take days to recover. I found that one out the hard way and now leave the small screen off…other than checking where the plane is.
      Third the overweight charges. You are pretty spot on and it is about time that very fat passengers were made to buy a second seat and/or had a surcharge on their ticket. 50% extra would be fair but imagine the Current Affairs reporters running the ‘discrimination’ stories if airlines tried it on. They should as it does cost in extra fuel and large people do put pressure on other passengers. Sorry.
      Perhaps it is lucky that flights can only last 14 hours per leg max. Any more and there would (occasionally) be fist fights.

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