Expedia.com.au survey reveals Australia's most annoying airline passengers

Are you the type of passenger who has trouble keeping still in your plane seat? Then you're probably the least favoured passenger on the plane.

A study undertaken by Expedia.com.au has revealed seat-back kickers to be the most annoying plane passengers, beating drinkers, talkers and misbehaving children.

Although, let's face it, it's usually misbehaving children behind the seat kicking, as Traveller columnist Ben Groundwater points out, but not always. Sometimes it can be the constant tap-tap-tap of the touchscreen seat-back entertainment if there's not enough insulation between the TV screen and the back of the seat. Pretty irritating on a long flight.

The survey found that 77 per cent of Australians voted back seat kickers as their least favourite passengers. Even though a whopping 36 per cent of passengers claimed to have experienced major discomfort on a flight from people kicking the back of their seat, 50 per cent of passengers would choose to do nothing about it.

A further 20 per cent would confront the passenger directly, and six per cent would record the incident and shame them on social media or websites like passengershaming.com, established by a disgruntled former flight attendant to highlight bad behaviour on planes.

Inattentive parents were voted second-least popular, snaring 75 per cent of the vote.

And what could be worse than blase parents allowing their little terrors to run up and down the aisle, screaming and banging on the seats and causing a ruckus? "I understand parents' desire for a little "me time" in the sky, but please, keep your child reined in," pleads Groundwater.

The third most aggravating passenger was the aromatic - whether this be due to poor hygiene or too much perfume, with 'the boozer' following hot on their heels.

And there are plenty of people who see a long-haul flight as an opportunity to get pissed like they were in a pub, as Lee Tulloch recently observed.


In 2015, incidents of disruptive behaviour on flights, mostly drunkenness, hit a five-year high in Britain.

"My favourite incident was earlier this year when an intoxicated passenger attacked a cabin attendant with a prosthetic leg on a flight to Edinburgh, recalls Tulloch. "It probably wasn't that funny for the flight attendant".

One of the most heated debates in recent years has been over the seat recliner. This year, however, they surprisingly weighed in as just the sixth least-favoured passenger, well behind seat kickers and the blase parents.

The Expedia study also found that there was complicated etiquette involved in reclining a seat.

A quarter of the participants said it should be banned altogether, and another 25 per cent said they don't recline their seats at all on long haul flights. A mere 52 per cent said they recline when they plan to sleep; over a fifth do so once the meal service is complete, and 15 per cent reclined when the passenger in front of them did so.

According to etiquette expert, Anna Mussen, you should not recline your seat at all if a flight is under three hours. "If it is a long flight, you can recline your seat, but not until after drinks service. And always recline slowly, " she advises.

Traveller columnist Lee Tulloch is firmly for reclining your seat. "Sorry, I'm not going to do a 14-hour flight sitting bolt upright," she says. "But there are some people who would like me to do so".

'Chatty Cathys' were another unpopular type of passenger, with most respondents agreeing they preferred 'me' time during the course of a flight, with a fifth being prepared to pay extra to be seated in a designated 'quiet zone'.

The best way to shut down a chatterbox is to invest in a good set of headphones, get out a book, or wear a pair of eyeshades. Or you could simply explain to your neighbour you need to get some work done or rest.

On the other hand, there were a small group - just three per cent of passengers - who use flying as an opportunity to meet new people. And five per cent of Australians surveyed admitted to being intimate on a plane, with men twice as likely to have instigated this behaviour.

Most of us are not there to make friends, as frequent flyer Ben Groundwater admits, "I'm there to watch movies, guzzle some free wine and then try to knock myself out with sleeping pills. I'm not there to listen to stories about your dogs".

But that doesn't mean hook-ups don't happen - and if you're really keen, then there's always Wingman, a dating app for people in the air, the "Tinder of the skies", designed to hook you up with "attractive people on your flight". 

I'll take the wine and the sleeping pills, thanks all the same.

The top 10 most annoying plane passengers

1. Rear Seat Kicker: The passenger who constantly shuffles and kicks the seat in front of them

2. Inattentive Parents: Parents who have no control over or pay no attention to their children

3. The Aromatic Passenger:The passenger with poor hygiene or who is wearing too much perfume or cologne

4. The Boozer: The disruptive passenger who has enjoyed a few too many alcoholic beverages

5. The Audio Insensitive: The passenger who talks so loudly everyone around can hear their conversation

6. The Recliner: The passenger who reclines their seat all the way back as soon as the plane is off the ground

7. Chatty Cathy: The passenger who strikes up a conversation and won't stop

8. Pungent Foodies: The passenger who brings food with a strong smell on board

9. Mad Bladder: The window seat passenger who makes frequent visits to the bathroom

10. The Amorous: The couple who displays an inappropriate level of public affection

See also: The ten rules travellers should follow

See also: Don't want me to recline my seat? Too bad!