Airplane Etiquette 2015 Study

Rear seat-kickers are the most annoying passengers in America, according to an Expedia study published on November 10, 2015.



Airplane Etiquette Study

Expedia’s airplane etiquette survey was based upon questions posed to 1,000 U.S. adults during August 2015. Expedia previously conducted a similar study during 2014. In addition to generating a list of the top complaints related to air passenger behavior, the study also revealed the actions taken (and not taken) by passengers in reaction to annoying passenger behavior. Lastly, the study provided insight into air passengers preferred level of interaction with fellow passengers.

Most Annoying Air Passenger Behavior

For the second year in a row, rear seat-kicker ranked as the most annoying air passenger behavior. The annoying behaviors were ranked in terms of the frequency of being named by the survey respondents. Below is the list of annoying behaviors and frequency the behavior was mentioned in the survey.

  1. Rear seat-kicker (61%)
  2. Inattentive parents (59%)
  3. Aromatic passenger (50%)
  4. Audio-insensitive (Talking/Music) (50%)
  5. Boozer (45%)
  6. Chatty Cathy (43%)
  7. Carry-on baggage offenders (38%)
  8. Queue-jumper (rushes to deplane (35%)
  9. Seat-back guy (aka rear seat recliner (32%)
  10. Overhead bin inconsiderate (uses first bin rather than one close to seat) (32%)

Reactions to Annoying Passenger Behavior

Faced with annoying passenger behavior, 49% of the survey respondents would simply try to ignore them. Only 21% of survey respondents would confront the passenger about the annoying behavior. As an indication of the trend towards “passenger shaming”, 10% of survey respondents would secretly record the annoying passenger using a mobile device or camera. 3% of survey respondents would publish such passenger misbehavior on one or more social media channels.

Seat Reclining in the Spotlight

32% of survey respondents would like to have reclining seats banned or restricted on short haul flights.

Attitudes Towards Passenger Behavior

According to the Expedia survey, 75% of survey respondents believe that “fellow passengers are considerate”. Over 50% of survey respondents feel that air travel is “fun and exciting”. 31% of survey respondents refuse to recline their own seats. Among the 69% of survey respondents who do recline their own seats, 30% do so when they plan to sleep, 28% recline if the flight exceeds three hours, and 30% recline immediately after take-off. Some of the seat reclining is done reactively, with 13% indicating that they only recline after the passenger in front of them reclines.

Some passenger behavior is passive-aggressive. For instance, 26% of survey respondents would recline their seat if the passenger behind them was believed to be aggressive or rude.

Passengers Prefer to Not Socialize With Strangers

75% of survey respondents believe that some small talk is fine, but they prefer to keep by themselves for most of the flight. Only 16% of survey respondents indicate that they use flights as an opportunity to meet new people. Interestingly, 66% of survey respondents indicate that they dread sitting next to such people.


Expedia’s study on airplane etiquette sheds light on Americans attitudes towards annoying and preferred air passenger behavior. When faced with what one finds to be annoying behavior by a fellow passenger, Seateroo offers passengers the opportunity to swap for a new seat location. After all, flying can be stressful even when passengers are on the best behavior. Paying another passenger to swap seats may offer an effective escape from that rear seat-kicker, inattentive parent, or smelly passenger sitting near you.

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