No Frills on Airlines: Getting to Your Destination Takes True Grit

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 No Frills Airlines: Surviving the Flight 

  • Top offenders when it comes to bad behavior onboard
  • 18 types of passengers you never want as seatmates
  • Tips for minimizing the discomforts of flying

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.”

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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.

No Frills Airlines: The Top 18 Economy Class Offenders 

  1. Rear Seat Kicker (cited by 67% of study respondents)
  1. Inattentive Parents (64%)
  1. The Aromatic Passenger (56%)
  1. The Audio Insensitive (talking or music) (51%)
  1. The Boozer (50%)
  1. Chatty Cathy (43%)
  1. Carry-On Baggage Offenders (39%)
  1. The Armrest Hog (38%)
  1. Seat-Back Guy (the seat recliner) (37%)
  1. The Queue Jumper (rushes to deplane) (35%)
  1. Overhead Bin Inconsiderate (stows bag in first available spot, rather than nearest to his/her seat) (32%)
  1. Pungent Foodies (32%)
  1. Back Seat Grabber (31%)
  1. Playboy (reads or watches adult content) (30%)
  1. The Amorous (inappropriate affection levels) (29%)
  1. Mad Bladder (window seat passenger who makes repeat bathroom visits) (28%)
  1. Undresser (removes shoes, socks or more) (26%)
  1. The Seat Switcher (13%)


No Frills Airlines: How to Minimize Discomfort

According to Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author, and the founder of Access to Culture (, here are some of the most common air travel issues and how to resolve them.

  • Security Checkpoint: To minimize time spent at the security checkpoint, be prepared and travel light, minimizing obstacles to safe, smooth travel. Make the security checkpoint go by quickly by emptying pockets ahead of time, removing laptop from bags, and removing shoes and belts to not only make it faster for you, but for those behind you. Also make sure that all liquids are in the appropriately sized containers before heading to the airport.  Remember to always be kind and respectful to others because everyone has a flight to catch too- not just you.
  • TSA Hold Up: While TSA screenings are an important safety measure, the long lines and extra time spent during bag searches and pat-downs can be a hassle.  Remember that being compliant will get you on the plane faster. Answer any questions the officer may have and be willing to have your bags searched. Any reluctance to do so could cause suspicion and may take more of your time.
  • Overbooked Airplanes: Airlines often compensate passengers who volunteer to give up their seat by paying for all expenses such as hotel and meals, in addition to giving them a flight voucher. If you are in absolutely no rush to get to your destination, it may be something to consider. However, if you’re one of the ones chosen to give up your seat, but you have to be on that flight for other commitments, explain your situation and politely refuse, all while maintaining an amicable tone.
  • Overweight Baggage: If a crew member at the check-in desk tells you that your bag is overweight and you have to pay an extra fee, kindly ask if you can step aside to take some of your belongings out and place them in another bag or suitcase. Once they give you the okay, look behind you and signal to the next person in line that they can go. This proper airline etiquette will ensure you’re being conscious of others’ time.
  • Passenger Clash: If you have a small disagreement with another passenger, first try to resolve it among yourselves. If the problem escalates or continues, ask the flight attendant for assistance. In manners such as putting your tray up and down, turning off you phone or any other flight procedure, you should not question the crew. However, if there is a customer service concern, you can politely speak to the head staff.
  • Crying Children: Crying infants should be tolerated; the mother wants them to stop crying way more than you do. Refrain from giving the parents long glares- they know their child is being loud and your stare won’t stop it.  In the case of older children, try blocking them out with headphones or earmuffs before talking to the parents if the problem persists.
  • Uncomfortable Arrangements: You have a right to be comfortable, and issues such as seat-kicking, inconsiderate neighbors, and loud media should be addressed by a flight attendant. The staff is trained on how to deal with these problems in the most inoffensive way possible. Tell a member of the crew about your problem and they will take care of it.

Reader’s Resources

When airline passengers fight back

The Rules of the United Airlines Fight or Flight Club

Traveling with Toddlers: An Owner’s Guide

A $4 Fix for the Airline Industry?







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