HATE THY NEIGHBOR

The most annoying habits of airline passengers, ranked

Obsession
Getting There
Obsession
Getting There

Airfares have cratered to the lowest level in seven years. But there is no ticket price low enough to make up for the biggest downside of commercial air travel: other people.

The online travel agency Expedia polled passengers for a fourth year on the most obnoxious passenger behaviors, and—surprise!—the “rear-seat kicker” yet again turned to be respondents’ most-loathed type, with 64% of respondents ticking off the box.

And that particular bad behavior can escalate tensions, leading to one of the subtler forms of air rage: retaliatory seat-reclining. A full quarter of respondents said they would recline their seats if a passenger behind them was kicking it or otherwise behaving badly. Meanwhile, 35% cited seat-back reclining itself as an annoying behavior—one that can set off a domino effect to the back of the plane, as each passenger desperately angles for a few inches more of legroom.

Most passengers don’t blame cranky children themselves; they blame the parents. Inattentive parents and the “aromatic passenger,” with bad body odor or a strong-smelling perfume or cologne, were among the top complaints. Other grating behaviors included excessive chattiness (the loud engine isn’t the only reason to bring noise-canceling headphones on your trip), hogging the armrest (34%), and public displays of affection (28%) or flirting (18%).

Expedia, along with market-research firm GfK polled 1,005 passengers in December.

While these behaviors are certainly obnoxious in the best of scenarios, confronting someone about them can easily get you, or your cabin nemesis, kicked off an airplane. Freedom of speech doesn’t always fly on a flight.

The advent of “basic economy” class could well create a new gripe in next year’s survey. Passengers flying in the rock-bottom-fare class recently unveiled by airlines United and American will be prohibited from using the overhead bins—but that probably won’t stop some from sneaking bags in.

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