Rudeness on Planes Survey: How Passengers Handle Air Travel Problems

If someone on a plane does something rude – such as reclining their seat so far back that you can’t get your tray table down – would you speak up? If the answer is yes, join the crowd. According to a new survey from the Travel Leaders Group (an association of travel agents), 77% say they would do something [and don’t miss the Twilight Zone video below].

8 dos and don’ts for dealing with rude passengers

Many Suffer in Silence

However, when confronted with other instances of rudeness – a lot of us opt to suffer in silence. The survey, which includes responses from nearly 1,800 flyers, was conducted in March and April of this year.

See some of the highlights of the survey – and see FareCompare’s suggestions for dealing with these problems. Then tell us if you have a better idea.

Non-stop Talking Rudeness

Your seatmate is chatty. He or she insists on engaging you in conversation throughout the flight. What would you do?

  • Read – 38.1%
  • Read and put on headphones – 18.9%
  • Talk to them – 12.2%
  • Tell them you don’t want to chat – 10.4%
  • Put on headphones only – 8.7%
  • Pretend to sleep – 7.4%
  • Put on headphones and pretend to sleep – 4.3%

Suggestion: Ask if they, too, can see the gremlin on the wing (check out the video below).

Reclining Rudeness

The traveler in front of you reclines his seat – and reclines and reclines. What do you do?

  • Say something to the recliner – 55.4%
  • Call a flight attendant and let them handle it – 21.8%
  • Do nothing – 15.1%
  • Not sure – 7.7%

Suggestion: Have you ever heard of a gadget called the Knee Defender?

Armrest Rudeness

You’re seated in the middle, and the passengers on either side of you have commandeered the armrests. What do you do?

  • Say something to one or both seatmates – 27.9%
  • Call a flight attendant and let them handle it – 2.6%
  • Do nothing – 48.9%
  • Not sure – 20.6%

Suggestion: Politely suggest you trade off every hour or half-hour. If that doesn’t work, mention the gremlin on the wing and when they turn to look, grab the armrest.

Babies on planes – yes or no?

Screaming Baby/Do-Nothing Parent Rudeness

Babies sometimes scream and cry. Everyone gets that. But what if the parent makes no attempt to comfort or control the youngster – what would you do?

  • Say something to the parent – 7.9%
  • Call a flight attendant to handle it – 46.7%
  • Say nothing – 30.6%
  • Not sure – 14.8%

Suggestion: Mention Malaysia Airlines new policy of child free zones. Parents, meanwhile, may want to forestall criticism by buying immediate neighbors a round of drinks or snacks.

Video: Twilight Zone’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (and yes, that is William Shatner).


Published: May 14, 2013