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Kicking, screaming and stinking: Plane neighbours annoy millions

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Aussies are often suffering for the pleasure of travel, according to new research by Finder.

A Finder survey of 1,063 respondents revealed two-thirds (66%) of Aussies – equivalent to more than 13 million people – have experienced undesirable behaviour from other passengers while in the air.

The research found the most common complaint was screaming children, with nearly half (44%) of travellers having experienced this.

Next on the list of complaints was getting your seat kicked, with 2 in 5 (40%) saying this has affected them.

Gary Ross Hunter, insurance expert at Finder, said flying can be full-on.

"Travel is hectic enough without the added stress of a bad plane trip.

"You can't always control unpleasant plane neighbours but there are steps you can take to make your trip less stressful.

"Preparing a travel checklist of things like noise-cancelling headphones, a good pillow and adequate travel insurance can make travelling a little easier."

Finder's research shows nearly a third (30%) of Aussies have had passengers in front of them put their seat back during meal times.

Hygiene issues were among other major complaints with a quarter (26%) having had other passengers remove their shoes and 20% being sat near someone who smells bad.

Younger Aussies are having proportionally worse flying experiences than their older counterparts.

Three-quarters (75%) of gen Z reported experiencing unpleasant behaviour from other passengers, compared to only 59% of baby boomers and 65% of millennials and gen X respectively.

Hunter reminded travellers to keep their cool when flying.

"It's one thing to have people acting up around you, but if you're the one misbehaving it could cost you your cover.

"Travel insurance will cover you for a range of travel mishaps but they won't be so forgiving if you're the cause."

More than 1 in 10 (12%) have had another passenger ask to swap seats, while 11% have experienced a nearby passenger who was intoxicated.

Have you experienced any of the following while flying?
Screaming kids44%
Someone kicking your seat40%
Putting seat back in meal times30%
Passenger hogging the arm rest30%
Passenger taking their shoes off26%
Smelly person20%
Chatty person beside you20%
Other passengers asking to swap seats with you12%
Passenger being intoxicated11%
I have not experienced anything negative while flying34%
Source: Finder survey of 1,063 respondents, September 2023

Learn more about what you're covered for with travel insurance here.

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