The no-frills airline area is changing everything about travel. Flying to your destination takes more than money. Flying without frills takes true grit. For those of us sitting in the back of the plane, no-frills flights on U.S. airlines usually means fights with cabin fellows, overdoses of sweet drinks and packaged carbs, and ongoing sessions of leg cramps during and after flying.
What’s more annoying than armrest hogs, pungent seatmates and chatterers when it comes to inflight aggravations? Hands down it’s rear seat kickers. That’s the verdict of an Airplane Etiquette Study by a major online travel company that asked 1,000 Americans to rank the most annoying on-board behaviors of fellow passengers. “Rear Seat Kickers” came out on top, bypassing “Inattentive Parents” and ahead of such etiquette violators as the “Aromatic Passenger,” the “Audio Insensitive,” the “Boozer,” and “Chatty Cathy.”
While many of us may be unknowing offenders and many other flyers may not consider some of these actions as offensive at all, violations, such as talking too much – and drinking too much –are common behaviors that are easy to spot and are generally tabbed as annoying.
“Chatty Cathy” ranked sixth on the list of etiquette violators. 78% of Americans agree with the statement, “A little small talk is fine, but I prefer to keep to myself during the flight.” However, 16% of Americans report that they “use flights as an opportunity to talk to and meet new people.” 65% “dread” the experience of sitting next to them.
While “The Boozer” was in the top-five of least-favorite flyer, only 12% of Americans report drinking more than two alcoholic beverages during air travel, while on board or in the airport. 15% of Americans “always or sometimes” use medication or alcohol to help them sleep on a plane, while 80% “never” do. Nearly half (48%) of Americans report that they generally cannot sleep on planes.
A full 5% of American flyers report that they “have been intimate” with someone on a plane. Of that 5%, 3% report having been intimate with someone that they were traveling with – and 2% have been intimate with someone that they met on that flight.
Reclining seats can actually spur fights, nevermind the resultant leg cramps from squishing in.. We continue to see multiple examples of inflight fights caused by perceived legroom violations. Passengers take issue with “Seat-Back Guy,” the passenger who reclines his or her seat fully during flight, giving leg cramps full birth and making it hard to do anything but sit back and do the same thing to the person behind you.
Men are more likely to fully recline their seats than women. Nearly a third (31%) of American passengers say they recline their seats to sleep and 26% say they do so when the flight is longer than three hours. 12% recline immediately after take-off, and the same percentage of fliers do so if the person in front of them does. 9% recline once meal service concludes.
The ubiquitous availability of mobile devices has made it easier to record and to shame passengers who misbehave. When asked how they would react if a fellow passenger misbehaved on a flight, 48% said they would remain quiet and attempt to ignore the violation. 22% would confront a misbehaving passenger directly. 12% would record the incident using a mobile phone or a camera, while 6% said they would leverage social media channels, including Twitter, to shame a fellow passenger. 44% would address a parent if their child was kicking their seat.
All in all, however, 78% of passengers polled agreed: “for the most part, fellow passengers are considerate of other passengers.” Some 36% of those surveyed said they would be willing to pay extra for a seat in a dedicated quiet section of the plane.
According to Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author, and the founder of Access to Culture (www.protocolww.com), here are some of the most common air travel issues and how to resolve them.