In-Flight Turbulence: Airplane Etiquette Study Shows Seat-Kicking Edges Bad Parenting as Most Aggravating Behavior
PR Newswire
"Aromatic," "Audio Insensitive" and "Boozing" Passengers Compete for Least-Favored Status

BELLEVUE, Wash., Jan. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --® today released the results of the Airplane Etiquette Study, an examination of American conduct in mid-air. In particular, Airplane Etiquette identifies passenger behaviors that most infuriate fellow travelers. Out of all behaviors, including boozing, excessive chatting, undressing and inattentive parenting, one earns the most fury: rear-seat kicking.

The study solicited feedback from 1,005 Americans aged 18+. It was commissioned by Expedia and conducted by GfK, an independent global market research company.

"As we embark on 2017, millions and millions of people will be taking to the air this year, and should know that there's no better gift you can give to a fellow traveler than respect and generosity," said John Morrey, vice president and general manager, "The Airplane Etiquette study shows that small acts of decorum can go a long way. After all, as it relates to flights, we are quite literally all in this together."

Personal space and peace of mind are paramount
Sixty-four percent of Americans cited the "Rear Seat Kicker" as the most problematic passenger, edging "Inattentive Parents" (59 percent), defined as "parents who have no control over, or pay no attention to, their crying, whining or misbehaved children." "Aromatic" passengers – those with poor hygiene or those wearing excessive cologne or perfume – are the third least-liked (55 percent), followed by the "Audio Insensitive" (49 percent), the passenger who talks loudly or listens to music without consideration for fellow fliers.

"The Boozer," a drunken, disruptive person, annoys 49 percent of his fellow passengers. However, only 12 percent of Americans claim to consume more than two alcoholic drinks when flying.

"Chatty Cathy" – the neighbor who strikes up conversation and won't stop – frustrates 40 percent of American fliers. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) report that they "dread" sitting next to someone who talks too much. On the whole, more than one-third (35 percent) of Americans would pay extra to be seated in a "designated quiet zone," should the airline offer one.

Americans divided on whether to recline seats
Thirty-five percent of surveyed Americans dislike the "Seat-Back Guy," the passenger who reclines his seat fully as soon as the plane takes off. A full 37 percent of Americans would choose to have reclining seats banned entirely, or at least restricted to set times on short-haul flights.

More than half (53 percent) of Americans do recline their seats when flying, while 23 percent report that they do not because they deem it "improper etiquette." An additional 11 percent do not recline because they feel it is uncomfortable. A quarter (25 percent) of respondents claim that they would recline their seat for retaliatory reasons, if the passenger behind them "showed aggressive behavior or was rude." A full 11 percent of those who claim to recline would do so even if the passenger behind them was "noticeably pregnant."

Americans report that they are reluctant to address misbehaving passengers directly*. Sixty-two percent would choose to alert the flight attendant to have them handle, while 33 percent would endure in silence. One in ten respondents would "confront a misbehaving passenger directly," while 13 percent would record the offending behavior via their phone camera. And five percent would turn to social media: 3 percent would "shame a fellow passenger's behavior via social channels," while 2 percent would simply "tweet about it."

Just under 3 percent of Americans report having "been physically intimate" with a fellow passenger aboard a plane. "The Amorous" passengers – couples who display an "inappropriate level of public affection" towards one another – were cited disapprovingly by 28 percent of Americans.

Mixed levels of attention to flight attendants
Nearly four in 10 Americans (39 percent) "always" pay attention to the flight attendant during safety presentations, while a nearly equal percentage, 42 percent, say they do so "occasionally." Two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans turn their phone to Airplane Mode when instructed to do so, though 15 percent "never" do so.

Despite the long list of behaviors that incur passengers' ire in-flight, all is not lost onboard. Seventy-nine percent feel that "for the most part, fellow passengers are considerate of one another," and 74 percent "thoroughly clean their space before leaving the plane." Four in 10 fliers report having helped another passenger with luggage, while 28 percent have offered up their seat to another.

The full ranked list of onboard etiquette violators includes:

1.     The Rear Seat Kicker                                               

(cited by 64 percent of respondents)

2.     Inattentive Parents                                                       

(59 percent)

3.     The Aromatic Passenger                                            

(55 percent)

4.     The Audio Insensitive                                                  

(49 percent)

5.     The Boozer                                                                       

(49 percent)

6.     Chatty Cathy                                                                    

(40 percent)

7.     The Queue Jumper                                                        

(35 percent)

8.     Seat-Back Guy                                                                 

(35 percent)

9.     The Armrest Hog                                                           

(34 percent)

10.   Pungent Foodies                                                            

(30 percent)

11.   The Undresser                                                                 

(28 percent)

12.   The Amorous                                                                   

(28 percent)

13.   The Mad Bladder                                                            

(22 percent)

14.   The Single and Ready to Mingle                               

(18 percent)

* For totals that exceed 100 percent, respondents were given the option of choosing more than one answer.

A full analysis of the study can be found here:

About the Survey
The study was conducted online using the GfK "KnowledgePanel," an online probability-based panel designed to be representative of the US general population, not just the online population. The study consisted of 1,005 interviews of randomly selected U.S. adult residents, conducted between December 2-4, 2016, among adults aged 18+.

About® is one of the world's largest full service travel sites, helping millions of travelers per month easily plan and book travel. (, 1-800-EXPEDIA) aims to provide the latest technology and the widest selection of top vacation destinations, cheap tickets, hotel deals, car rentals, destination weddings, cruise deals and in-destination activities, attractions, services and travel apps. With the Expedia® Best Price Guarantee, customers can get the best rates available online for all types of travel.

© 2017 Expedia, Inc. All rights reserved.  Expedia, and the Airplane logo are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Expedia, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners CST # 2029030-50.
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About GFK
GfK is one of the world's largest research companies, with more than 13,000 experts working to discover new insights into the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK is constantly innovating and using the latest technologies and the smartest methodologies to give its clients the clearest understanding of the most important people in the world: their customers. In 2012, GfK's sales amounted to €1.51 billion. To find out more, visit

GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications is a division of GfK. The group specializes in customized public affairs and public opinion polling, media and corporate communications research, and corporate reputation measurement in the US and globally, in addition to delivering a broad range of customized research studies.

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