Stinky, drunk, flirty fliers are really annoying, a new travel survey suggests


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Whoever said “flying is fun” evidently hasn’t been on an airplane in a while. A new airplane etiquette violations survey basically says there’s not much fun left at all for travelers who decide to fly over driving.

Inside The Vacationer’s latest Airplane Etiquette Violations Survey, the laundry list of comments is pretty much dirty laundry – and led by Rear Seat Kickers and Disruptive Drunks.

Those two top the list of violations as being America’s most annoying co-passengers, with the same percentage (59%) of Americans saying those activities are a pet peeve.

Poor Body Odor and Smelly Food aren’t far behind, with 48% of American adults finding it irritating when a co-passenger smells due to either poor hygiene or too much cologne or perfume. Nearly 40% are irritated when a fellow traveler eats pungent or foul-smelling foods onboard.

In fifth place among the OMGs is Poor/Inattentive Parenting with 45.8% of American travelers claiming it as a turn-off.

Rounding out the Top 10 are:

6. Hogs the Armrests — 39.07%

7. Reclines Seat Fully in Front of You — 38.25%

8. Talks to You Too Much — 29.87%

9. Boards or Deplanes Out of Turn — 29.60%

10. Listens to Music or Movies Too Loudly — 28.96%

Who gets more annoyed – men or women?

Eric Jones, assistant professor of mathematics at Rowan College South Jersey and the survey’s analyst, told ConsumerAffairs that when it comes to playing nice vs. breaking the rules, men are far more sensitive than women.

“Men are more likely than women to be annoyed by rule breakers on planes – 33.33% of men said they are annoyed when a passenger boards or deplanes out of turn,” Jones said. “On the other hand, only 26.25% of women said this annoyed them.”

The #1 gripe among women is if a passenger is too talkative or flirty. Almost 25% of the women surveyed said they are annoyed when a passenger tends to get frisky with them, another passenger, or a flight attendant. On the other hand, only 18.88% of men said this annoyed them.

Bothered? Who, us?

The survey suggests that the youngest generation of American adults are the least likely to get their gall up while flying  – 14.17% of those aged 18-29 said none of these behaviors on a plane bother them in the least.

The annoyance scale goes down from there: 9.85% of those aged 30 to 44 said none annoyed them; 12.01% of those aged 45 to 60 said none of these habits annoyed them on a plane; and only 10.05% of those over age 60 said none annoyed them.

When you add all those up, nearly 12% of American adults said that none of the 16 onboard flight behaviors surveyed annoyed them.

“The 11.57% that said this represents nearly 30 million people. (They) say they are not annoyed by sitting next to disruptive drunks, having their seat kicked, or someone smelling. In addition, they have no problem with inattentive parents, loud music, talkative people, and more,” Jones said.

“These people must be saints and we need to cherish their patience. They put the 88.43% of the rest of us who get annoyed to shame.”

Can airlines keep annoying travelers from boarding an airplane?

Can an airline kick a passenger off for having body odor? For bare feet or offensive clothing? Behaving inappropriately? Yes, yes, and yes — at least according to American Airlines,Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines’ “conditions of carriage.”

As far as offensive body odor is concerned, “Most airlines have rules in their ‘contracts of carriage’ that allow an airline to remove a passenger if the stench is so bad that other travelers could potentially become sickened by the odor,” David Reischer, attorney and CEO for, told InsideHook.

“Additionally, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has operating procedures that allow for passenger removal if the safety and health of other travelers are affected by the bad odor from a passenger.”

And acting up? That’ll cost you extra. Under a partnership between the FAA and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), passengers who demonstrate “unruly behavior” can be removed from TSA PreCheck screening eligibility, which is a privilege reserved for low-risk travelers.

Once a traveler makes that list, they’ll be watched closely, too. In addition to the FAA providing the TSA with information of passengers who receive proposed fines for unruly behavior, the TSA will share information to help the FAA identify and locate unruly passengers and serve them with penalty notices.


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