21 Passengers We Hate on Flights?

rom our friends in the United Kingdom comes this list — which includes an infographic — pertaining to the 21 passengers we hate on flights…

…but is the list in the right order? Are there any candidates missing on the list? Are there any items of the list which do not belong on it and should be removed?

In order to answer that question, you first have to read the list. Here it is — as well as commentary by me on each item…

1. People That Smell

Everyone smells. That is a result of them using their noses to —

…oh…perhaps that should be people who emit odors. People who stink. People who are an affront an offensive to the olfactory senses.

There are certainly people out there who scurry about — well — ripe. The cause may not solely be an aversion to the use of deodorant. A severe case of halitosis after consumption of limburger cheese with garlic and onions mixed with alcohol and the stale smoky odor of tobacco can pack a wallop as well.

Bad breath is one of the six unpleasant things travel by air does to your body — as well as what to supposedly do about them.

Even if a shower cannot be taken for whatever reason, there are simple ways to mitigate or temporarily eliminate foul odors — but drenching oneself with cologne or perfume is certainly not one of them.

2. Seat Kickers

“We were in 3C and D. The mother was in 4B and her two 9? year olds were behind us in 4C and D. The seats are great. Lots of space so how on earth those two girls were able to stand on their hands (I’m guessing on the seats) and kick me with their bare feet in the head is beyond me.”

This extreme case of seat kickers as imparted by an irritated FlyerTalk member tmorse6570 continues: “The mother could see what was happening and did nothing until my partner stood up and told the girls to sit down. Before the kick to the head, they had both been kicking the backs of our seats for close to two hours. Which I don’t get either, because they were both under 5 feet. I think they were bouncing around like it was a playroom or something. I was just praying for massive turbulence so they might slam into the ceiling or something.”

A recent study from Expedia — which lists similar types of annoying passengers — suggests that “Americans rank ‘Rear Seat Kickers’ as the most aggravating co-passengers.”

Although seat kickers are usually children, adults have been known to participate in the inconsiderate action of kicking the seat in front of them — or using some other appendage to cause unwanted motion to the occupied seat in front of them. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to constantly kick the seat in front of him or her…

…and as an aside: with regard to using an in-flight entertainment system which is equipped with a touch screen, try to tap on it as lightly as possible without poking the seat in front hard enough to cause a significantly lesser but similar effect to kicking the seat. Yes, some of those touch screens are not as responsive as others; but the person seated in front should not feel like he or she needs a weapon to defend himself or herself as the result of an involved game of Space Invaders.

3. Incredulous Parents

You just read about one example of an incredulous parent — an irresponsible person who is unwilling to acknowledge the horrendous behavior of his or her children; and has no intention of acting upon his or her actions or correcting them in a disciplinary manner.

For an excellent example, consider my personal experience as I imparted on a transatlantic flight where a boy was permitted by his clueless parents to be out of control and have free run of the airplane — to the chagrin of fellow passengers.

A responsible parent does everything to ensure that his or her child enjoys travel and learns from it while respecting the enjoyment of fellow passengers and travelers. That is a win-win-win situation, in my opinion.

Here are twelve helpful tips for traveling with children — and Dan, I am still waiting for my “goodie bag.”

4. Crying Children

Children cry for legitimate reasons — not able to adjust the changing of air pressure in their ears, for example, which can hurt. I do not like listening to them; but I can tolerate them as long as their parents do whatever they can to attempt to mitigate the discomfort of their children and as long as they are not screaming throughout much of a transatlantic flight whose duration is ten hours

…but some people do take their intolerance of screaming children to the extreme.

A 67-year-old American woman on her dream holiday in Australia claimed some years ago to have literally been deafened by the scream of a three-year-old boy sitting across the aisle from her aboard a airplane operated by Qantas Airways in Alice Springs whose destination was Darwin.

There are people who advocate the establishment of child-free zones aboard airplanes while traveling.

5. People Rude to Flight Attendants

There is no excuse for anyone to be rude to a flight attendant. Period. End of story.

If there is a significant problem with any member of the flight crew, report it to the airline which employs them after the flight has concluded; and be detailed but concise. If the problem is not significant enough about which to do anything, try to ignore that flight attendant — if it is at all possible.

6. The Drunk

There is no excuse for anyone to be drunk on an airplane during a flight — especially when the result of being inebriated results in extreme situations which can be avoided…

…such as urinating on fellow passengers.

7. People That Recline Their Seats

The seemingly never-ending debate over reclining seats has been intense for years — to the point where it has actually led to violence where two passengers were embroiled in a heated argument aboard an airplane which operated as United Airlines flight 1462 over seat recline on Sunday, August 24, 2014 — resulting in the airplane being diverted to Chicago, where police and agents of the Transportation Security Administration were summoned.

Perhaps to mitigate the animosity surrounding this controversial issue, the interiors of airplanes should be divided into two separate sections: seats which recline; and seats which do not recline.

I even experienced my own issue pertaining to having seats reclined in front of me for ten straight hours and having the seat reclined in front of me even though its occupant was not sitting in it during an international flight.

Out of courtesy for the passenger sitting immediately behind, should the occupant of a seat in the economy class cabin aboard an airplane not have it reclined when he or she vacates it?

8. People Who Steal Your Armrest

As with reclining seats, the war over the shared armrest in the economy class cabin aboard airplanes has also been intensely contentious over the years — to the point where a boutique industry of products devoted to mitigating this controversy has attempted to flourish

…and to worsen matters, there are people who use the armrest for body appendages other than arms — such as for bare feet.

That is simply gross and disgusting.

9. People That Encroach On Your Seat

Although this section does not directly deal with passengers who swap seats, there are two sides of the story pertaining to people who poach seats aboard an airplane — and here is the point of view as imparted from the perspective of the seat poacher

…but here is a highly unusual story about swapping seats which will warm your heart where someone paid a fellow passenger to trade his seat in the premium class cabin for a seat towards the rear of the aircraft in the economy class cabin.

My approach to seat poaching is as follows:

  1. If someone is already sitting in my assigned seat, I will first check my boarding pass to ensure that I have the correct seat assignment on that flight before I politely ask that person if he or she is certain that he or she is in the correct seat. After all, I have encountered myself and another person in the past having boarding passes with the same seat assignment on the same flight on the same day — albeit rare.
  2. If the person is indeed in the wrong seat, I will politely ask that person to move and give the benefit of the doubt that he or she simply made a mistake. Usually, that person moves and the situation is resolved.
  3. If the person automatically assumed that I would move without even asking me, then all bets are off. In order to justify being that rude, that person had better have a really good reason to convince me to switch my seat — and not to some unwanted seat towards the rear of the aircraft. In this situation, I have no problem denying the request of the seat poacher after the fact — and I will call a flight attendant to resolve the situation, if necessary.

10. People That Clap After Landing

People who clap after the airplane lands can be mildly irritating at best; but it only lasts for a few seconds anyway. Perhaps they are passengers who have a fear of flying as a passenger in an airplane.

“In no other workplace does someone get applauded for fulfilling the most fundamental aspect of their job…” That is the verbiage from the aforementioned original source.

Not that I would support actual clapping per se; but perhaps an expression of gratitude as a show of appreciation towards someone who successfully performed “the most fundamental aspect of their job” might be appreciated and compel that person to not only better enjoy doing his or her job; but perhaps that performance could improve even further.

Do I get any applause for opining?

11. The Stag Do “Lads”

As an American, I was not quite certain as to what “Stag Do ‘Lads’” meant: matching vulgar T-shirts, chanting football songs and ordering the in-flight lagers; but then I realized that they are similar to stag parties — although those are usually celebrations held for a man shortly before his wedding where only male friends and relatives attend.

I have been seated amongst a rowdy group of individuals — teenagers and young adults, usually; and sometimes the most unruly offenders are female — but I find that to be quite rare. It is a situation whose solution is usually to change a seat if there is an empty one elsewhere aboard the airplane.

Members of FlyerTalk do refer to stag parties in the following discussions — but please count me out, as I am not interested in attending:

12. Queue Jumpers

Let’s see…queue jumpers are not going to arrive to their destinations any faster, as everyone on the same airplane arrives at the destination at the same time.

Perhaps they cut in line because they cannot wait to be seated and enjoy their pre-departure beverages prior to departure? Maybe it is to secure a good spot for their carry-on baggage? Could it be a fear that the airplane will leave without them?

Irritated members of FlyerTalk have a lot to say pertaining to queue jumpers

…and queue jumpers are a problem in the United States at Transportation Security Administration Pre✓ lines at airport security checkpoints as well — and I had proposed whether or not there should be four types of Pre✓ lanes at those airport security checkpoints which serve .

13. People Who Play Music Too Loudly

I rarely encounter fellow passengers who play music too loud. Perhaps that is because I am usually listening to music from my portable electronic device — but I know that I do not play music too loud myself, as I prefer that it is not played too loud.

Noise-cancelling headsets are arguably useless or useful, depending on your point of view; but again, they are one of the included amenities which you can enjoy as a passenger aboard an airplane operated by Etihad Airways. Unfortunately, you cannot keep those headsets — you must return them to the flight attendant prior to the conclusion of the flight.

14. The Passive Aggressive Complainer

This is supposedly the person who “silently judges with the occasional eye roll or tut, making mental notes about other passengers to go home and blog about.”

I would never do that.

Nope — I would never do that


…nor would I ever do that pertaining to articles written by other authors.

Um…why are you rolling your eyes at me?!?

15. People That Remove Their Socks

Certain people not only put their bare feet on armrests, as mentioned earlier in this article — they also tend to use the lavatory while their bare feet remain uncovered

…and after splashing their tootsies in puddles of unknown origin or composition on the floor of the lavatory, there is no wonder why their feet emit unpleasant odors — and who knows where else those feet had been.

I cannot tell you how many passengers I have seen aboard airplanes who wear sandals, torn clothes and emit odors worse than a pungent cheese factory near a sewage treatment plant across from a sulphur mine next to a landfill — regardless of in which cabin they are seated…

…and I especially do not like looking at the bare feet of people which tend to spill outside of their sandals.

Put a sock on it.

16. People That Eat Smelly Food

Ah, yes. That fermented sea herring, limburger cheese and liverwurst sandwich with plenty of garlic and onions on the side — or perhaps you prefer a durian and bean sandwich from which the water must be squeezed. Mmm, mmm, mmm — now them’s good eatin’.

This, from the country which brought you Marmite. I can eat Marmite; but I much prefer Vegemite.

17. The Faffer

You don’t know what is a faffer?

A faffer is one who faffs, of course.

Actually, a faffer is apparently some British slang which stands for someone who futzes around with their luggage while blocking the aisle.

One quick solution is to have belongings in the bag organized better so that items may be found easier. Do this at any time — but please: not in the aisle aboard an airplane.

For the record, no one should be blocking the aisle at any time.

18. Overhead Locker Hogs

I just wrote and posted an article five days ago pertaining to the never-ending war over space in the overhead storage bins; so I will refer you to that article.

In the meantime, here is a primer from this short article written by me on Tuesday, October 5, 2010:

  • Do not hog the entire overhead bin with your jacket or other small item.
  • Do not complain if the flight attendant moves your belongings if ignoring the above suggestion.
  • Do not touch the belongings of other passengers when attempting to fit your items in the overhead bin.
  • Eat before you board instead of placing perishable food — especially odoriferous items — in the overhead bin.
  • Check your baggage if it will not fit in the overhead bin — do not attempt to shove and push while holding up the boarding process.

19. Mr. Chatty Man

I am not typically the type of person who freely engages in a conversation with a neighboring passenger; but I have been known to do so when prompted under the right circumstances.

Then again: is a chatty person amongst the worst passengers to whom you have sat next aboard an airplane?

20. The Nervous Flyer

I do believe that I sat next to a nervous passenger during a recent flight — and I initially found him to be seemingly inconsiderate, rude and rather annoying…

…but then, a passenger who is nervous about flying cannot help himself or herself from an experience which he or she has trepidation.

While I do believe that patience is in order and should be exercised for nervous passengers, those passengers should also consider whether or not enduring a flight is a good idea; but I would have to think that a nervous person would not want to voluntarily subject himself or herself to what could potentially be a traumatic experience unless he or she has some important personal or professional business to conduct at his or her destination.

21. Frequent Toilet Users

Although I usually prefer a seat near the window, I am not a frequent user of the lavatory; but if I am sitting in an aisle seat, I have no issue with someone who constantly uses the lavatory during a flight, as I am usually accommodating…

…just please have the courtesy of waiting until the meal service has concluded and my tray table is stowed and secured first, if that is at all possible. Attempting to get up while juggling a tray half full of food, a beverage, utensils and other items is not fun by any stretch of the imagination.


Many of the irritative and annoying passengers on the list from the United Kingdom — which was used for this article — are also found on the aforementioned study from Expedia from the American point of view. The complete list from that study is found below — along with a link to an article which I have written where applicable. I may comment on some of the offenders in future articles.

In the meantime, patience, politeness, consideration, courtesy and respect are what we should all have towards our fellow passengers. It goes a long, long way towards significantly improving the travel experience for as many people as possible.

  1. Rear Seat Kicker
  2. Inattentive Parents
  3. The Aromatic Passenger
  4. The Audio Insensitive — talking or music
  5. The Boozer
  6. Chatty Cathy
  7. Carry-On Baggage Offenders
  8. The Queue Jumper who rushes to deplane
  9. Seat-Back Guy — the seat recliner
  10. Overhead Bin Inconsiderate who stows bag in first available spot, rather than nearest to his or her seat
  11. Pungent Foodies
  12. Back Seat Grabber
  13. The Amorous who displays inappropriate affection levels
  14. Undresser who removes shoes, socks or more
  15. Mad Bladder — the window seat passenger who makes repeat bathroom visits
  16. The Single and Ready to Minglehere are a total of 37 pick-up lines to possibly consider using aboard an airplane
  17. The Seat Switcher

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “21 Passengers We Hate on Flights?”

  1. Kate says:

    Just suffered through a four plus hour southwest flight while I was in the middle seat between two married people who had left it open hoping it would remain that way. They incessantly talked over me, passed things back and forth, and clearly felt they were each entitled to both armrests while I had none. My back hurt from scrunching my arms forward for hours trying to keep both my arms away from the arm rests. Finally, I asked apologetically of the less large one of the couple if I could have one of the four arm rests, but the most he would do would do was to let me use part of it.
    On the return flight, I was careful to pass by the middle seats toward the front and fortunately got to sit next to my husband on the return. If only the big three airlines did not have such punitive change fees I would swear off southwest ( or at least once my companion pass expires.)

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      You have a right to reasonable comfort aboard an airplane for the duration of a flight, Kate — not to have your back hurt due to an unnecessary situation.

      Did you ever notify a member of the flight crew of your experience?

      I am not sure it will do much good; but you may want to consider sending a note of your experience to the airline and see what response you get…

  2. Santastico says:

    How about that passenger that knows he is sitting on cattle class and has a seat on row 99 but boards from the front door and insists to find his seat either on first or business class? It amazes me how much time people waste when boarding a plane looking at every single row trying to find their seat. Ok, you look at a row and it is row#2 but you have a seat on row#35. There is no need to look at the number of the following row since between #2 and #35 there are 33 rows. :((((

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I shake my head on that one, Santastico, as that never made any sense to me…

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