Passengers Share What Annoys Them Most About Holiday Air Travel

Illustration for article titled Passengers Share What Annoys Them Most About Holiday Air Travel

When you hear the phrase "holiday travel," what thoughts come to your mind? Do you avoid it at all costs, or suck it up and join the herd? What do you hate most about it? Last month, over 1,000 passengers were surveyed about their pet peeves for air travel, and here's what they said.


My first holiday air travel as an adult was last year. Prior to that, I lived in Dallas, and we typically drove to my parents' house in a little town in central Texas. But last year, we hauled the family by air from Denver to Austin, because driving from Colorado to Texas pretty much sucks, especially with two small children in the car. Our December 23rd flight out of Denver was delayed by about three hours, due to snow. It's this kind of experience that gives holiday flying a bad reputation.

Illustration for article titled Passengers Share What Annoys Them Most About Holiday Air Travel

Image via Associated Press

Flying irritates most people in one way or another, whether it's the checkin and security lines, the boarding process, the cramped seating or even our fellow travelers. But it's also a privilege, and a sacrifice we make in order to be with friends and loved ones. Among those surveyed, many indicated they would give up gifts or family traditions to avoid holiday flying. Fifty-two percent said they would give up watching their favorite holiday parade. Thirty-one percent said they would be willing to give up one of their gifts, if it meant they could avoid flying during the holidays.

It's not just the hassle of flying that people hate. In many cases, it's other passengers who are the annoyance. Travelers are highly annoyed by others who cut in line, argue with customer service agents, and are disorganized at the TSA checkpoint. Forty one percent of respondents said the most annoying seat mate is the one who smells bad — either by passing gas or having foul body odor.

Illustration for article titled Passengers Share What Annoys Them Most About Holiday Air Travel

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Some of the most annoying seat mates are the smallest humans, and thirty nine percent of those surveyed feel that flights should have a designated section for families with kids, if the flight is two hours or longer. Interestingly, it's women who feel the strongest about this, at forty percent over thirty one percent of men. Twenty nine percent admitted to asking a parent to calm or reprimand their child for unruly behavior, including crying, while forty five percent believe airlines should give everyone earplugs in case a baby cries.


Aside from the instances of children's behavior, forty three precent have asked a flight attendant to intervene or confront the offensive passenger, and twenty seven percent said they were bold enough to handle the matter directly, without assistance from a flight attendant. Forty percent said they have requested to me moved to another seat, and thirty percent admitted to taking a sedative or sleeping pill in order to make time go by more smoothly.

My personal favorite responses were the passive-aggressive ways that people admitted to handling annoyances. Here are some actual quotes of what some travelers admitted to doing:

A guy had his headphones so loud for most of the flight. Finally some of the passengers, me included, started singing, humming, following along to what we were hearing from his headphones. He finally got the point.
Accidentally spilled a glass of scotch on the bastard's lap for taking up the entire arm rest and for kicking my laptop bag numerous times when it was under the seat in front me. There wasn't much in the plastic cup but it was enough to piss him off :)
Flicked a child's earlobe for running in the aisle — constantly. Stop! Now go tell your parents I did this — flick.

The responses come to us from a survey conducted with over 1,000 participants who have flown within the past year, by Honeywell Aerospace.

Top illustration by Jason Torchiksky

Paul Thompson is a aviation journalist with over 13 years of experience working in the airline industry, who maintains the website Flight Club for You can contact Paul to submit story ideas, your own "Plane Porn" photos, and comments regarding this or any other aviation topic via email at


Chris Clarke

What really annoys me is when I get to the airport and I have to pull the plane out of the hangar by myself.