The 6 Worst People to Have on Your Flight

The Most Hated Flyers of 2016

When it comes time to board the plane, who you’re seated near can either make or break your flight. Whether a baby or a loud-mouth is your most feared neighbor, we all have people we’d prefer not to be around when it comes to air travel. Maybe there’s no criteria for what exactly makes a good in-flight neighbor, but there is for what makes a bad one.

Travel experts at Expedia conducted an “American Etiquette Study,” as it pertains to in-flight courtesy. [1] Expedia consolidated the results into a list of the most irritating people we encounter on flights. See if you do any of these dreaded behaviors or just be reassured you’re not the only one who hates talking on flights.


#6 – Chatty Cathy

The whole time you’re boarding your flight, you’re thinking about finally catching some sleep or watching the latest movie. Others may be looking forward to learning about the lives of fellow passengers. Chatty Cathys are passengers who consistently talk to those near them. It’s not that flyers don’t like people. About three-quarter of those polled in 2015 said that small talk is fine. [2]  Now, talking the whole flight about how you’ll never go to that Burmese restaurant after you got food poisoning? That’s a different story. If you like to meet people on your flight, maybe get some small talk out of your system when you first board. Afterward, let your fellow passengers travel in silence. “But they were so nice, they want to talk to me.” This may be true, but sometimes people are just being polite. Give them some silence. If they want to talk to you more, they will.

#5 – The Boozer

Some people order alcohol on their flight and that’s fine. This isn’t a problem. The problem occurs when this person acts like the cabin is a frat house. Those who drink to the point they are disruptive to other passengers are one of the worst people to have on your flight. What makes this category so unique is that drinking on a plane seems to make you more likely to perform the other dreaded offenses. Nothing like a couple drinks to make you want to blast your headphones to AC/DC while loudly telling your neighbor about how you saw them live when Bon Scott was still around. This leads us to our next offender.

#4 – The Audio Insensitive

We get it. You put a lot of time and effort into making your in-flight playlist. As much as you look forward to listening to it, the thing is…no one else does. One of the reasons people don’t like talking on their flight is that they want peace and quiet. When the person next to you can clearly hear the lyrics to the latest pop song blaring from your headphones, it can be irritating. If you look around and see someone glaring at you from the corner of their eye, it might be time to turn down the volume down.

#3 – The Aromatic Passenger

So far, many of the offenders on this list are inconsiderate to others’ range of hearing. This one, however, causes the nose distress. Whether it’s from body odor or just wearing too much perfume/cologne, pungent passengers clock in at number three. Even in business class, aircraft cabins are tight quarters. Usually, if someone near you has a strong smell, you’ll have to deal with the aroma for your entire flight. Keep this in mind next time you’re dousing yourself in the amenity kit cologne.

#2 – Inattentive Parents

Children aren’t typically the most welcomed passengers on flights. They often cry, ramble loudly, and kick seats. Some, however, can be more behaved that adults! The difference between this experience being bearable and terrible probably has to do with the parent. Expedia defines inattentive parenting as “parents who have no control over, or pay no attention to, their crying, whining or misbehaved children.” [3] Usually, if a parent is attentive to their child, those around will breathe a sigh of relieve. Entertaining the child and stopping bad behavior are all appreciated by other passengers. When a parent doesn’t choose to do these things, it can leave other flyers seething. As long as parents are making an effort, other passengers will keep their cool. If they don’t care to control their child, it leads to the most despised passenger in air travel.

#1 – The Rear Seat Kicker

Having your seat kicked is the #1 thing people hate most while flying. It is so hated, it might be directly related to why inattentive parenting is at #2.  Having your seat kicked throughout the flight could add some major stress to your trip, especially when you’re in dire need of some sleep. Kids are the only ones to blame. Adults whose legs dig into the seat in front of them can cause similar discomfort. Those who are tall suffer the most when it comes to the tight quarters of economy. If you need more leg room or want to avoid seat kickers entirely, business class may be well worth the investment.

Consideration is Key

Usually, people just want some peace and quiet on their flight.  Maybe you read this list and suddenly realize how easily upset travelers are. Contrary to the tone of this article, the study also found that 79% of those surveyed thought that, for the most part, other passengers are considerate. [4] So long as your intentions are good, you shouldn’t step on too many toes…at least until you have to scoot by to use the restroom.


One thought on “The 6 Worst People to Have on Your Flight

  1. Christine Harris

    Kids are always the worst for me. Whingeing, screaming, running up and down the aisles, sticking their feet into the back of your seat, etc. etc. If you say anything to the doting parents, after enduring for hours, they become like the incredible hulk and accuse you of being cranky and insensitive to their little darlings! If I ever fly long haul again, I will be saving hard to pat for business class and asked to be seated as far away from children as possible.