Expedia is out with its 2018 Airplane and Hotel Etiquette Study and a list of travel habits – the good, the bad, and the downright aggravating – along with tips for how to avoid fellow travelers who display them.
The company polled 18,229 people from 23 countries about what behaviors annoy them most when traveling as well as how they cope with sticky situations in the air and on the ground. Of those polled, the average traveler takes five flights per year and spends 14 nights in hotel. The research was conducted online by Northstar Research Partners between February 22 – March 19, 2018.
Expedia also came up with a host of other statistics that are telling about the changing travel experience, from the widespread introduction of online check-in and mobile boarding passes to tipping customs and the hotel amenities guests expect.
Is there anywhere as stressful as a full airplane these days? Probably not, based on the answers given to the Expedia team. For air travel, here were the worst offenders.
- The Seat Kicker/Bumper/Grabber (51%)
- The Aromatic Passenger (43%)
- Inattentive Parents (39%)
- Personal Space Violators (34%)
- Audio Insensitive (29%)
- Queue Jumper (18%)
- Pungent Foodies (14%)
- Baggage Mishandler (13%)
- Armrest Hog (13%)
- Airplane Mode Violator (11%)
- Security Newbie (9%)
Due to shrinking seat size, especially in economy cabins, it should come as no surprise that the list topper is having one’s seat kicked or bumped and that armrest hogging was another hated behavior. Hopefully those who answered the poll took into account the decrease in legroom across the board on flights these days, because we will all likely have to deal with it much more frequently.
To avoid this particular quandary, Expedia suggests booking a flight in premium economy. But if the extra cash outlay is not in the books for you, choosing a seat in front of an exit row is another possible solution. What the study does not say is that, though this will give you extra breathing room between your seat back and the feet of the passenger behind you, it is often at the cost of being able to recline. So these pieces of advice are perhaps not as useful as they could be. The study also said that 62% of travelers deal with seat kickers by politely notifying airline staff about the problem, though that seems unlikely given the air rage events that seem to make headlines on a weekly basis.
Among the other takeaways, 90% of respondents said that going barefoot on a flight is not acceptable, with 75% of Americans saying they always keep both their shoes and socks on.
A quarter of Americans said they never recline their seat, thinking it is rude. If they do, it is likely because the flight is three hours or more, or that they are trying to get some sleep. Perhaps unsurprising, the poll found that Europeans are the most likely to ask fellow passengers to put their seat upright again.
Fifty-four percent of people said it was acceptable to wake snoring passengers and 20% would climb right over you if you were seated between them and the aisle rather than waking you up to ask you to let them out.
While a third of travelers still check in at the airport, 50% of U.S. fliers said they check in online for most flights these days and 72% still print out a boarding pass, while 28% use a mobile one. U.S. fliers are twice as likely as non-Americans to volunteer their seat in return for compensation on an oversold flight.
Americans are also the most likely to take only carry-ons in order to avoid fees for checking baggage…and the most likely to overstuff them. This is the unsurprising result of the advent of add-on fees including those for checked bags and seat selection that airlines in the U.S. have begun imposing (and increasing periodically) for the past decade or so.
That likely leads to feeling put-upon from the outset, so it’s not shocking to find that only a quarter of Americans said they have never felt unfairly or rudely treated by airport staff, flight attendants or ticketing agents…which mean three quarters of them have.
Finally, while you might strike up a conversation with fellow fliers in other parts of the world, U.S. travelers reported at an overwhelming rate of 90% that they prefer to keep to themselves in flight and would rather sleep than talk to other passengers. A full 77% of them said they dreaded sitting next to someone who talks too much. Little wonder, then, that 73% of them said they would never join the Mile High Club with a travel companion or new acquaintance.
One particularly interesting outcome, and one that airlines might take note of: the study found that one in four travelers would pay to upgrade their seat (presumably this includes from a basic economy seat to one with more legroom or a confirmed aisle or window seat assignment – 59% prefer the window over the aisle, incidentally), and even fewer pay for in-flight internet access. Instead, the most common activities onboard are sleeping (74%), watching entertainment or TV (69%) and listening to music or podcasts (61%).
The study also looked at hotel habits and what aspects of the booking and stay experience matter most to travelers these days. Here were the biggest pet peeves.
- The Inattentive Parents (45%)
- The Hallway Hellraisers (41%)
- The In-Room Revelers (41%)
- The Complainers (29%)
- The Party-goers (27%)
- The Bar Boozer (27%)
- The Bickerers (20%)
- The Loudly Amorous (19%)
- The Hot Tub Canoodlers (11%)
- The Elevator Chatterbox (5%)
Maybe the ubiquity of such bad behavior is why 66% of Americans reported always or frequently using the do not disturb sign or indicator to prevent hotel staffers from entering their guest room.
Beyond irritating interactions with fellow guests, 82% of Americans polled said the worst thing to encounter in a hotel room would be bedbugs while 67% also said finding a used condom or open condom wrapper would be disturbing. The other contenders for disgusting discoveries included cigarette smoke or foul smells in the room as well as dirty surroundings. Though, tellingly, over half of respondents say they never or rarely sanitize in-room items such as the phone or remote control.
Americans said that they tend to tip hotel employees, and that the amount of $2-$3 was acceptable. Most respondents reported hiding valuables or taking them out of the room with them in order to avoid issues with housekeeping.
Among the factors that influence whether travelers book a stay are the basic cost and the availability of amenities like Wi-Fi as well as possible freebies such as an included breakfast or parking, with 75% of travelers rating them as very important when making a reservation.
Travel is more stressful than ever. People have to contend with traffic, airport congestion, flight delays and the anxiety of sleeping in a strange place, among other factors, and they have to pay to do all of it. Travel is also more affordable than ever, which means more people will be doing it, so it is only likely to become an even more exasperating exercise. The best any of us can hope for, however, is to be a little more considerate ourselves, and more understanding when fellow travelers get on our nerves.