Readers Say

This is the most annoying behavior on airplanes, according to readers

"Anyone doing this should be kicked off the plane and put on the no fly list." readers share the most annoying behavior they've encountered in the sky. iStock Library

Have you experienced someone kicking your seat while traveling on an airplane? If so, you are not alone.

When we asked readers for the most annoying behavior in the sky, nearly 200 readers replied and seat kicking was by far the top named pet peeve. The (mis)behavior was also in line with a recent Airplane Etiquette Violations Survey conducted by The Vacationer, where seat kickers were the worst offenders.

Ahead, discover what else annoys readers while flying.

Kicking the back of your seat was the clear winner of our poll, with 42 votes.

“Anyone doing this should be kicked off the plane and put on the no fly list,” wrote Philip W. from Boston.


“It happens to me all the time. It never stops being annoying,” wrote Chris S. from Manchester-by-the-Sea.

“Sounds can be tuned out with head sets, smells with masks,” wrote Zach from San Diego, formerly of Back Bay. “If children are misbehaving, compassion and empathy serve as a buffer to anger. And helping children makes you part of the solution rather than part of the problem. However, frequent continuous prolonged chair kicking requires a particular form of lack of awareness and lack of compassion for the person in front of you. It is also highly disruptive to someone who is trying to 1) work, 2) sleep, or 3) relax calmly with their families. I wish the airlines would build the seats to be less flimsy and less prone to the shoe inserted right into your middle back.”

Smells from poor hygiene/too much cologne or perfume was the second most popular answer, with 18 votes.

“It makes you uncomfortable and can’t be escaped,” wrote Casey from Boston.

“It’s the only thing I can remember being bothered by on a plane — when a very stinky man fell asleep on my shoulder,” wrote Heather from Boston.

“I can deal with the other things with headphones…but not smell,” wrote GM from Wilbraham.


Inattentive parents/poor parenting came in third, with 17 votes.

“This comes in slightly higher than seat kicking, which is super annoying,” wrote Aimee from Berkshire County. “It’s usually a kid who isn’t being attended to, though. I can wear ear buds for noise and turn away from odors but a kid running around and generally creating havoc is hard to ignore.”

“I once sat on a 3 hour flight with a kid in the middle seat,” wrote Jackie, who did not provide her hometown. “Once the flight was in the air, the mom went and sat with her friend. …[T]he kid [was] kicking me incessantly then finally [fell] asleep with his feet in MY tray table. I ordered a wine just to deal then he proceeded to kick it off the table. When the flight was finally landing the mom came back and didn’t buckle him in. I watched that kid fall off his seat upon landing and didn’t feel sorry for a second.”

Other annoying behaviors included: drunk and disruptive passengers and eating pungent or foul-smelling food. More than 80 readers who voted ‘Other’ named several behaviors like sitting next to an animal, taking shoes and socks off, talking loudly on the phone, reclining in their seats, flossing teeth and clipping finger or toe nails, and asking to swap seats.


Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.