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Who are the worst travellers?

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5 min read

Expedia.com recently released the results of its 2018 Airplane and Hotel Etiquette Study, a deep dive into travel behavior from 35,000 feet to 350 square feet.

The average person takes five flights per year and spends 14 nights in a hotel, so it’s not surprising strong opinions are formed when travelling. Although everyone has their own unique pet peeves, the top three things most people can’t stand are seat kickers, barefoot passengers and excessively chatty or loud travelers.

“Whether you’ve been on one vacation or 100, you’ve likely experienced some form of annoying behavior while traveling,” says Nisreene Atassi, Global Head of Communications for Expedia brand. “At Expedia, we want to ensure that every leg of a traveler’s journey is enjoyable. Our goal with this study is to better understand travelers’ biggest pet peeves and offer tips to help them maximize comfort and minimize annoyances.”

This year’s findings highlight the sometimes-unwritten etiquette rules that, if followed, ensure getting to the destination is half the fun.

Passenger

The Seat Kicker Reigns Supreme as the Worst Passenger to Encounter During a Flight

For the fourth year in a row, more than half of global respondents identified the passenger who constantly kicks, grabs or bumps their seat as the most annoying. With the average amount of legroom decreasing on some airline carriers to accommodate more seats, this behavior is likely to remain one of the most common and most hated.

Travelers might find some insurance against seat kicking by upgrading to premium economy or choosing a seat in front of an exit row. Or join the 62 percent of travelers who politely notify airline staff about the annoyance and save themselves hours of irritation.

Top ranked list of worst flight passengers:

The Seat Kicker/Bumper/Grabber (51%)
The Aromatic Passenger (43%)
The Inattentive Parent (39%)
Personal Space Violators (34%)
Audio Insensitive (29%)

Feet

Bare Feet Are A Flying No-No

Over 90% of global respondents agree it’s not ok to be barefoot during a flight. This is particularly true for nearly 75 percent of Americans who said they always keep their shoes and socks on. Getting comfy on a long flight is tough, but there is a happy medium to avoid grossing out seatmates. Only remove shoes, and never prop feet up on the seatback or encroach into the next row.

Quiet

 

Shhh… Do Not Disturb

Whether in-flight or in bed, people just want peace and quiet. Nearly 90% of Americans prefer to keep to themselves during a flight, while 66% always or frequently use the privacy indicator to prevent hotel staff from entering their room. To pass the time while flying, Americans would rather sleep (69%) than talk to other passengers (28%). And flying isn’t the time to ramble – our study shows 77 percent of Americans dread sitting next to someone who talks too much.
Carrying a pair of headphones or earplugs is an excellent way to cancel out unsolicited chatter on a flight. For light sleepers, requesting a high-level, corner guestroom away from elevators and street level could also minimize noise.

Hotel

 

Top ranked list of worst hotel guests:

The Inattentive Parents (45 percent)
The In-Room Revelers and The Hallway Hellraisers (41 percent)
The Complainers (29 percent)
The Party-goers and The Bar Boozer (27 percent)
Fees and Freebies Drive Booking Behaviors
Travelers are extremely budget conscious; price and associated fees are among the biggest factors people take into consideration when booking a flight or hotel. There’s some notable commonalities and differences in how travelers go about saving money, but overstuffing carry-ons to avoid checked baggage fees is the most common behavior. Americans lead the way here, far surpassing any other country and illustrating the deep impact of changes in fee structures.

The thriftiness doesn’t stop there. 75 percent of travelers deem freebies such as Wi-Fi, breakfast, resort credits, free parking, and room upgrades as very or somewhat important when booking a hotel. Twice as many Americans would volunteer their seat on an oversold flight in exchange for a free voucher compared to other countries. Only one in four travelers would pay to upgrade their seat, while even fewer would pay for in-flight Internet access.

Other fascinating findings include:

Across the globe, travelers are most annoyed to find bed bugs, a used condom, cigarette smoke or foul smell upon checking into a hotel room – while dirty surroundings are the main reason travellers request to switch hotel rooms, more than half rarely or never sanitize items like the remote and phone, or wear shower shoes to protect their feet.
South Koreans are the most likely to get drunk on a flight – Thai and American travellers round out the top three.
Travelers typically recline their seats for two reasons – only if it’s a long flight, three hours or more, or when going to sleep. A quarter of Americans said they never recline their seat because it’s rude. Europeans tend to be more likely to ask fellow passengers to un-recline their seat.
54 percent of people agree it’s ok to wake snoring passengers – and when it comes to passing a sleeping passenger, most don’t hesitate to wake them and ask them to move. 20 percent say it’s ok to just climb over with your back to them.
Online and mobile check-in are taking the world by storm, just over a third of travelers still check-in at the airport – 50% Americans check-in online for their flights. Meanwhile 72 percent still print a boarding pass and less than 30 percent use a mobile boarding pass.
Hotel habits – most travelers admit to hiding valuables from housekeeping and taking items from a hotel room.

Visit the Expedia Viewfinder Blog for a full analysis of the 2018 Airplane and Hotel Etiquette Study.

Jeanette Briedenhann
Jeanette Briedenhann
Jeanette Phillips joined the team in 2016. She developed a passion and love for all things-travel related in her role as travel journalist, a position she held for over seven years. A brief exodus into the corporate marketing sphere proved that there is no better industry than the travel industry. Research and writing are two of Jeanette’s greatest passions, but she is always open to new challenges and different ways of doing things.

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