Angry with airplane ‘seat kickers’?

via Moak: Angry with airplane ‘seat kickers’?, clarionledger.com, 11/12/2015

PDF: Seat Kickers

Submit your airplane etiquette pet peeves at the email below.

It’s been a long day. Tired from your full day of meetings, an interminable taxi ride and the seemingly endless line through airport security, you’ve finally gotten into your seat on the plane, looking forward to a few winks of shut-eye before you reach your destination.

Nearly in dreamland, you’re awakened by a jolt; the guy behind you has kicked the back of your seat, sending shockwaves through your body. Throughout the flight, it happens again, and again. You don’t want to make a scene, but you imagine yourself as Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop, breaking a pencil to send a message to a couple of unruly kids kicking his seat, to high-fives from your fellow irritated passengers.

If you consider the “seat kicker” to be the most annoying of airline passengers, you’ve got a lot of company. On Tuesday, Expedia.com released its annual Airplane Etiquette Study, which asked travelers about their top annoyances on planes. More than 6 of 10 passengers cited the “Seat Kicker” as their pet peeve when traveling by air.  A close second was the “Inattentive Parent” (as exemplified by the oblivious parents of the unsupervised little monsters kicking Arnold’s seat in the aforementioned movie), who for some reason let their kids do pretty much anything once it’s wheels-up.

The survey taps into a deep well of traveler anger. As airlines raise fares, airlines attempt to squeeze every penny out of passengers, clamping down on knee space, bumping you with little or no warning and making you pay extra for just about everything that was previously free. Frustrated travelers have had enough. The 2011 Passenger Bill of Rights addressed some of that, but there are a lot of other things that still rile passengers. A lot of them have to do with other people’s behavior on the flight; “If I’m going to pay this much, I should at least get to enjoy it,” you can almost hear passengers saying through their clenched teeth.

Despite all the pet peeves, though, the survey had some good news: Three-quarters of those surveyed felt that most passengers try to be sociable and inoffensive; a significant number (about half) felt air travel is still something “fun and exciting,” and some said they would neglect their own comfort (for example, not reclining their seats if the passenger behind them is pregnant) for the sake of getting along or just simple courtesy. It really doesn’t take much to avoid being one of the folks on this list; simple courtesy and politeness will go far.

“Planes continue to fly full, never more so than during this season, when millions of Americans will fly to be with their families for the holidays,” said John Morrey, vice president and general manager of Expedia.com. “Inside a packed plane at 30,000 feet, both good behavior and bad behavior are amplified. Respecting our fellow passengers is a small but important gift we can all give each other.”

Here are a few more of those pet-peeve-passengers, from the survey:

  • The “Aromatic Passenger”, whose lack of hygiene — or recent meal — catches up with him and everyone else in the enclosed space of the cabin.
  • The “Audio Insensitive” (who listens to loud music or talks loudly).
  • The “Boozer,” who feels it’s OK to get three sheets to the wind and makes sure everybody knows it.
  • The “Chatty Cathy,” who feels like she must engage all her neighbors in conversation.
  • The “Undresser”, who takes off various items of clothing, including — no, please, NOOO! — his shoes, a la John Candy’s Del Griffith. (Actually, that also makes Del an “Aromatic Passenger,” too, doesn’t it?)
  • The “Carry-On Baggage Offender,” who feels like her carry-on bag can surely fit in the overhead bin, despite its bulging seams and back-breaking tonnage. This often results in minutes of frustration, only to find the flight attendant eventually relegating the piece to the baggage hold.
  • The “Queue Jumper.” You know him as the guy who sprints from the back of the plane the instant the plane comes to a stop, with zero regard for anyone else’s place in line.
  • The “Seat-Back Guy.” He’s the one who takes full advantage of his seat’s reclining abilities, rendering your tray table useless and cramping your knees. (Actually, I was surprised this one didn’t top the list, but only about a third said this guy was chief offender.) This particular annoyance has been the subject of heated debate, as described in a May USA Today story.

There are a lot more objects of passenger ire on the Expedia survey site, athttp://bit.ly/1MADQNS.

So, readers, here’s an opportunity for you to give us your own pet peeves. Do you agree with this list? What’s your top airline-travel annoyance? Just send me an email and I’ll compile them for a future column. Happy Traveling!

Contact Bill Moak at moakconsumer@gmail.com.

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