The 6 worst travel peeves, according to an Australian survey

Andrew Munro 16 August 2017

shutterstock airplane interior passengers 738x410

Australians name the things not to do.

Skyscanner has asked Australians about their biggest travel pet peeves, and the results might not come as a surprise to anyone who flies a lot, with most Australians having similar taste in airline etiquette.

The top 3 travel peeves accounted for about three quarters of all answers, while the top six made up 97% of all responses. This means that as long as you avoid doing these six things, there's an almost 100% chance of you becoming best friends with your in-flight neighbors (if you want).

  1. Stinky Travellers - 30%. The number one peeve, with 30% of travellers naming BO the biggest hazard in the skies.
  2. Seat Kickers - 27%. Over a quarter of respondents can't abide to having their seat kicked all flight long. This category also includes seat pullers, pushers, bumpers and anyone else who thinks seatback tray-tables can be intimidated with physical violence.
  3. Maximum Recliners - 17%. There might be seat kickers behind you, but 17% of respondents are more irritated at the maximum recliners in front. These are the people who stare at the seatbelt sign like a drag racer stares at starting lights and rocket their seat backwards the instant it goes off.
  4. Armrest Hogs - 9%. Slightly under 1 in 10 travellers nominated this contentious issue as their number one travel peeve. There are no generally accepted rules of etiquette, except that the middle seat gets both. Inevitably however, it always ends up going to whoever wants it most. If you're willing to elbow your way to the top, it's yours for the taking.
  5. The Impatient Flyer - 7%. The only reason an aircraft cabin should stand up all at once is if they're giving the captain a standing ovation after a crash landing. But the impatient flyer is probably way too busy and important for that kind of thing. What else could explain their mad scramble for the doors before the plane has even reached the gate and their requests to cut in line ahead of you.
  6. Loud Travellers - 7%. On par with the impatient flyers, many respondents just don't like loud travellers. This can be loud talkers, users of loud devices and conversationalists who think that you putting on headphones means they need to talk louder.
  7. Other - 3%. There's no pleasing everyone, with a handful of respondents nominating other peeves, like public displays of affection and a few other situations.

To help keep the peace in the skies, Skyscanner also provides a handy selection of tips on what to do about it all. Its advice per peeve:

  1. Wear a perfumed scarf or sarong to help block the smell. For a more emphatic but less useful approach, it can also be waved at the smelly neighbour to waft away the fumes.
  2. Ask the person to stop, ask a flight attendant if you can switch seats, or try to ignore it. Alternatively, you might try suddenly reclining your seat at the perfect moment.
  3. Try scoring a seat upgrade for a bit more space to avoid recliners. The general rule of etiquette is no reclining during meals and short flights, but free rein to recline on overnight trips. In the end there's little you can do about it other than taking the high road, and ignoring it. Or taking the low road and kick their seat - which is more than likely another form of poor airline etiquette.
  4. Enforce a diplomatic approach, or an armrest splitter. Alternatively, you might annex the territory when an opportunity arises. They have to move their arms sometime. Armrest occupation may or may not trigger an "act of war" exclusion on your travel insurance.
  5. Be patient with impatient travellers. Having said that, the best revenge is living well. Embrace biometric convenience, get a frequent flyer rank with priority baggage and cruise out of the airport ahead of them, while they're still waiting in line. It's perfectly acceptable to look smug while doing so.
  6. Ask them to turn the volume down. Failing that, get a flight attendant involved or offer them your in-flight headset and hope they take the hint. If that turns out to be too subtle, fight fire with fire and start loudly talking about how rude that other passenger is.

It can also be worth trying to find an emptier flight, with trips at certain months and certain times of day being much less crowded. This can make for a much comfier flight, as well as lower prices.

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