The 15 Most Annoying Types of Plane Passengers, Ranked

Several months ago, Expedia released the results of its third annual Airplane Etiquette Survey, in which 1,019 random travelers were polled about their in-flight behavior, as well as the most aggravating behaviors they witness from their fellow passengers. Funnily enough, these were often one and the same. 

The journey of a lifetime -- or even just a quick weekend getaway -- starts with your flight, and unfortunately, no amount of planning or prep can save you from a pesky passenger. In fact, according to the survey, a third of Americans would actually pay extra to be seated in a designated safety zone or "quiet area." However, since this isn't really an option (does first class count?), we're left to a crapshoot as far as whom we share the plane with. 

Read on to find out which type of passengers ranked as the absolute worst. 

15. The One in the Window Seat with the Tiny Bladder

Navigating the cramped space between airline seats can be tricky, especially if you've got a window seat passenger in your row who continuously needs to get up and use the bathroom. We're actually a little bit surprised that this didn't rank higher on the list. But, as they say, if you gotta go, you gotta go -- and, luckily, only 24 percent of participants felt it was annoying. 

14. The One Who Looks Like He's Losing a Game of Strip Poker

Thankfully, we're willing to bet that this passenger only really comes out on long distance flights, when comfort is of the essence. Either way, it's now official that no one wants to witness anyone de-robing, de-shirting, or de-shoeing while in-flight. It's a cramped space, but some people have no shame. 

13. The Couple Who Won't Stop the PDA

Photo by David Martyn Hunt via Flickr

Watching anyone make out or get handsy in public is hard to stomach, but when you are on a plane and the simple ability to walk away disappears, some people admit that it can get really awkward and uncomfortable -- fast. Couples who won't stop with the cuddles and kissing actually tied with passengers that peel off their layers on the plane, with 26 percent of participants agreeing that both behaviors should probably be kept behind closed doors. 

12. The One Who Grabs the Back of Your Seat For Leverage...Again and Again

Photo by chinaoffseason via Flickr

Again, with the tight spaces and awkward body twists that some coach cabin seat rows inflict upon their passengers, we think it's safe to say that nearly all of us -- at some point or another -- have grabbed the seat in front of us for leverage. There's only so much yoga a person can do to effortlessly contort out of some of those seats, but it doesn't change the fact that just over a quarter of your fellow passengers think it's highly annoying. 

11. The One Who Breaks Out the Pungent Snacks

Photo by Karen via Flickr

Since most airlines have stopped in-flight meal service outside of international routes -- and with diet restrictions on the rise -- we wouldn't be surprised if more and more people are bringing their own food on board these days. However, if you do, try to be friendly to the noses of those around you. We are sharing this tiny, recycled air space, so the fewer tuna sandwiches, stinky cheeses, and hard-boiled eggs we inhale, the better. (And 30 percent of the survey's participants agree with us.)

10. The One Who Thinks He Is the Only One Who Brought Carry-on Luggage

Again, thanks (in a "no thanks" kinda way) to the freebie cuts by airlines, more and more passengers have been forced to carry on their luggage. Let's face it, almost everyone flies with some kind of carry-on these days. With this in mind, let's also realize that there is only so much space in those overhead bins (and much less under the seat in front of you), so be kind, stow your large bag up top, throw your personal item down below, and leave room for everyone else. This gripe also includes anyone who prematurely stows his luggage in a row that is miles in front of his actual seat (and we'd like to add, anyone that tosses his sweater or small grocery bag up in the overhead bin). 

9. The One Who Takes Liberties with the Recline Feature on His Seat

Photo by Karl Baron via Flickr

Wow. We're guessing that all the people above six feet tall really appreciate this one. As we mentioned, there's not much space between the seats, and 32 percent of participants in the Expedia Airplane Etiquette Survey feel that the passengers sitting in front of them who have no problem just cranking back that seat are some of the worst co-passengers on the plane. Who can blame them? No one wants to be pinned in his seat, with the TV screen six inches from his face, and the tray table sticking into his abdomen. 

8. The One Who Thinks He Is the Only One Who Desperately Wants to Get Off the Plane

We've all seen this person. Maybe he has a flight to catch, maybe he doesn't. Either way, no one likes it when that passenger just bulldozes ahead and skips the deplaning line. Look, buddy, we've all been on this flight the same amount of time, dealing with the person in our row who had to use the bathroom a million times, sitting with our tray table jammed into our ribs, and smelling either someone's Limburger cheese sandwich or sweaty feet, so, please -- just wait your turn to get off the metal bird. If you are guilty of this offense, just know that over a third of your fellow passengers are judging you with side eyes. 

7. The One Who Doesn't Understand the Appropriate Size for Carry-on Luggage

Photo Russell Neches via Flickr

Maybe it's just us, but we swear that, while the "check your carry-on luggage" racks have stayed the same size, everyone's in-flight luggage (and small personal items) have only been growing. Remember the overhead bin space can only hold so much, and last-minute luggage checking at the gate can delay flights. So be kind and remember that you're sharing your flight (and space) with 100+ other passengers who also have carry-on luggage.  

6. The Chatty Cathy

Again, we are surprised this isn't higher on the list. The inability to escape a situation because you are on an airplane can cause great anxiety and frustration for some. However, 16 percent of those surveyed admitted that they view flight time as a chance to talk to, and get to know, new people. That might come as a surprise to the three-quarters of participants who said that -- while they don't mind small talk, they really just want to enjoy their flight in peace and quiet. We guess that's why 43 percent of them said sitting next to a Chatty Cathy was the absolute worst. 

5. The One Who Can't Stop Boozing It Up

Photo by Russell James Smith via Flickr

Cough. We feel that this might one behavior that transcends cabins more than others, since alcohol is available throughout the plane -- and is actually free in business and first-class cabins. A whopping 45 percent of passengers said they cannot stand sharing airspace with a booze hound. We were also slightly surprised that only 10 percent admitted to having more than two drinks on a flight or in the airport beforehand...maybe they just lost track.

4. The One Who Listens to His Music on Blast and/or Talks Really Loudly

Personally, we feel that headphones were created so that the outside world doesn't have to listen to your personal in-flight playlist, or the laugh track to the TV show you've downloaded. Blame it on hearing damage, but we've definitely noticed, both on the subway and in the skies, that headphones have somehow evolved into these mini-speakers that anyone within a five-foot radius can hear. Perhaps this is why half of your co-passengers listed fellow passengers who listen to loud music or, subsequently, talk really loud as the seat mate best avoided. Unless you are Jacob Silj, you really have no excuse. 

3. The One Who Goes Heavy on the Cologne, Perfume, or Deodorant Spray

Photo by Felipe Ernesto via Flickr

Tied with the loud music players and speakers, passengers who cloak themselves in perfume, cologne, or deodorant come in at the number-three spot. This is another passenger faux-paux that we can really get behind -- or prefer not to, actually. Again, since airplanes are small, shared spaces, we have no love for our fellow passengers who over do it on the bottled scents. In fact, we've even seen someone throw up because of it. 

2. The One Who Doesn't Pay Attention to His Kids

Photo by Ma1974 via Flickr

Almost 60 percent of people are most bothered by co-passenger parents or guardians who don't pay attention to their children while on board. Maybe there's a bit of a mental vacation that starts as soon as they get into your seat, but please -- if you travel with children (we know it's no piece of cake), try to keep them in control of their kicking, screaming, and Cheerios. 

1. The One Who Incessantly Kicks the Back of Your Seat

Photo by mliu92 via Flickr

Speaking of monitoring the kicking and screaming, the absolute worst trait a passenger can have (which usurped the number one spot from last year) is kicking the back of your seat. It's probably happened to all of us, and we guarantee that no one likes it. Ever. 

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