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That’s just Plane annoying!

18 July 2017

Unruly kids, drunk passengers – GoCompare reveals holidaymakers’ biggest in-flight irritations

New research* from GoCompare has revealed UK holidaymakers biggest in-flight irritations, with seat kicking and drunk fellow passengers topping the list.

GoCompare Travel quizzed over 1,300 UK adults who had flown abroad in the last five years and asked them to pick the things which annoy them most when travelling by plane. Armrest hogging, unruly or crying children, rude cabin crew and other passengers filling up the overhead lockers are all in the top ten of things most likely to raise their blood and cabin pressure.

 Rank Plane annoying behaviour %
 1 Having your seatback kicked 57
 2 Drunk passengers 48
 3 Sitting next to someone with a personal hygiene problem 48
 4 Unruly or crying children 46
 5 Having to pay for expensive plane food and drinks 35
 6 Sitting next to an armrest hogger 32
 7 Rude cabin crew 28
 8 Other passengers filling up the overhead lockers 27
 9 Sitting next to a chatty stranger 23
 10 Noise from other passengers’ headphones / mobile devices 17


Whilst it seems that many holidaymakers have a low annoyance threshold for children, noise, rowdy behaviour and poor service when flying, there are signs that people are either becoming more tolerant of their fellow passengers or we are becoming more considerate flyers.

When GoCompare ran the same survey in 2013**, 74% of respondents found having their seat back kicked a pain in the backside (down to 57% in 2017), 61% found unruly and crying children a major annoyance (down to 46% in 2017) and 55% were irritated by drunk passengers (down to 48% in 2017). 41% were annoyed by rude cabin crew (down to 28% in 2017).

Martyn John, from GoCompare Travel commented: “With cheap flight deals making air travel more accessible than ever before, our study found that people’s biggest in-flight irritations are overwhelmingly the actions of fellow passengers rather than airlines or flight conditions.

“That said, over time we’ve found people’s annoyance levels have dropped significantly, so perhaps we’re gradually learning not to sweat the small stuff when we’re on our holidays, or showing a little more regard for other people when flying. It’s hard to tell whether in the last four years the things that have the potential to annoy us have either diminished or we’ve just accepted it’s all part of the flying experience. Hopefully a combination of more consideration and greater tolerance will make everyone’s flight a little less turbulent.”

For more infomration on buying the right flights, see GoComapre's dedicated guide.

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Notes to editors:

*On 25 May 2017, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,005 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists. The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

**On the 19th-23rd April 2013, Vision Critical conducted an online survey among 2,015 randomly selected British adults who are Springboard UK panelists. The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. 1303 had travelled abroad by plane in the last 5 years. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.