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Survey finds behaviors that most annoy airline passengers

Published December 4, 2013 4:18 pm

Airlines • Seat kickers, loud talkers, bawling babies make the skies less friendly.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Flying any time these days can be a trying experience with most planes full, airports crowded and connections to other flights often tight. This is especially true during the busy holiday travel season.

That's one reason why Cheapflights.com surveyed 1,081 Americans asking them about the good, the bad and the ugly of flying.

There were few surprises.

Air travelers said that someone kicking their seat, talking loudly or nonstop through a flight or allowing children to misbehave or cry were the most annoying travel behaviors in that order. They were followed by putting feet on an arm rest or tray table into your leg room, passengers who carry on excessive amounts of oversized luggage, those who recline in their seats back in cramped quarters and a child or adult who insists on yanking the seat back.

The survey said that most travelers silently endure such behavior, with 34.9 percent saying that they seethe quietly and do nothing while another 34.52 percent simply let the behavior go and not be bothered doing anything about it.

That said, just less than 30 percent confront the passenger directly while 18.757 percent subtly retaliate by doing something irritating back, 14.54 percent report the traveler to the flight attendant, just less than 14 percent ask for a new seat and 9.29 percent rant on social media.

The most common "unfortunate" travel moments involve dealing with a screaming child (61.7 percent), a long delay stuck on the tarmac (54.21 percent), lost luggage (43.35 percent), missed connection (35.34 percent), smelly fellow passenger (30.9 percent), snoring neighbor (22 percent) or an out-of-order entertainment system (18 percent).

That said, a few travelers do experience fortunate travel moments that include being bumped to business or first class, getting a free drink or meal, getting someone's phone number, joining "the mile-high club", securing a new job, meeting a future spouse, landing a new client, or being inspired to invent a product or start a company while flying.

"As the annual flux of holiday travelers gear up to take the air in the coming days and weeks, we all need to pack an extra dose of patience and consideration and be aware of how we impact those around us," said Melisse Hinkle, site editor and travel expert at Cheapflights.com. "Travel is, to some degree, a team effort. We can work together to make or break the success of the trip for everyone. Being good travel companions can go a long way toward keeping the journey smooth and, at times, even rewarding."

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribtomwharton