Poll: Passengers Prefer Screaming Babies to Smelly Seatmates

As TMZ is fond of saying, “who’d you rather”? So who would you rather sit next to, a screaming baby or an odorous fellow flyer?

Listen as Rick Seaney explains, this is a total no-brainer:

Close to two-thirds of those surveyed in a new Harris Poll say they’d choose the weeping infant every time. But that wasn’t the poll’s biggest surprise.

Surprise: One-Third Never Fly

Of the 2,200-plus U.S. adults polled in the respected Harris organization’s poll, 33% said they never fly. More than twice that many (37%) say the fly at least once a year or more. And what do the more frequent flyers among us want more than anything? Space – in the right seat.

Is this the worst fee ever?

What Do Flyers Want

Almost 60% of those polled said they’d be willing to pay more for extra legroom on a long flight. Here are the highlights of what passengers say they would shell out for:

  • Extra legroom, flights 3 hours or longer: 58%
  • Avoiding a middle seat: 53%
  • Seatback entertainment system on longer flights: 47%
  • In-flight Wi-Fi on longer flights: 44%

Most the most important amenity overall – without factoring fees into the mix – was getting a window or aisle seat, period.

Whatever you do, don’t sit in these seats

Unusual Seatmate Choices

An unintentionally hilarious aspect of the poll was a series of statements in which travelers could opt for agree or disagree. The highlights:


“I would rather be seated next to a crying baby than a smelly adult.”



“It would be worth having a chatty seatmate to be in a seat with extra legroom.”



“I would rather have the stranger next to me sleep on my shoulder than have to pay for carry-on baggage.”



Worst passengers ever

The Drool Factor

FareCompare was mildly shocked (and vastly amused) to find almost 40% of respondents were willing to have a stranger sleep on them in return for any benefit at all. One wonders if these travelers have given any thought to the drool factor.


Updated: November 16, 2015