The Most Annoying Things People Do On Flights According to Young Brits

Squashing hundreds of people together into a flying metal tube for hours on end is bound to ferment opportunities for them to annoy one another, but not all irksome habits are (air)born(e) equal.

Is hogging the armrest as bad as leaving the lavatory in such a state it could be scientifically described as a biohazard? How does trying to get off the plane a nanosecond after it’s reached the gate compare with sitting perfectly still… but with your shoes and socks peeled off? What’s worse: the person in front of you reclining their seat, or the person behind you kicking yours? 

The travel experts at StudentUniverse – the world’s largest student travel agency – decided to find out how young people feel about all this. 

In a new study of 500 18-25-year-old Brits who have flown at least three times in their lives as adults, StudentUniverse has revealed the most annoying passenger habits, along with some other interesting findings. Take note in case you might be notorious for being an annoying traveller yourself! 

#1 Most Annoying Behaviour – Getting your seat kicked 

Unsurprisingly, 80% of respondents said that someone kicking the back of their seat on a flight was ‘very annoying’, ranking as the most irritating behaviour of all. This is really no surprise – it could be a small child who is restless, or an adult changing leg positions constantly. 

#2 Annoying Behaviours – Drunk passengers and leaving the lavatory in an unacceptable state

Coming in as equally annoying are passengers that are intoxicated and people leaving the loo in an unacceptable state, both of which 57% of respondents said were ‘very annoying’. While an in-flight chardonnay can often calm anxieties for nervous fliers, one too many can cause a flight to Istanbul to feel like its en route to Ibiza. And when getting excited ahead of a trip abroad, there’s nothing that shifts the mood more than being met with a toilet looking worse for wear.  

#4 Annoying Behaviour – Listening to audio without earphones 

It can be infuriating in any situation when someone is blasting their music or playing a game without headphones plugged in, let alone doing this in a confined space thousands of feet in the air. 56% of respondents agreed that this was a ‘very annoying’ trait. 

#5 Annoying Behaviour – Person in-front of you reclining their seat 

Nothing breaks the ambience of an in-flight film than someone aggressively reclining their seat so far back that that they are pretty much in your lap. Results from the survey showed that 47% found this ‘very annoying’, and 44% found it ‘slightly annoying’, leaving a very marginal 9% who it does not bother (who are you?!) 

The full list of the top 10 most annoying things people do on flights are: 

RankHabitPercentage who agree this is ‘Very Annoying’
1Person behind you kicking your seat 80%
2=Drunk passengers57%
2=Leaving the lavatory in an unacceptable state57%
4Listing to audio without earphones56%
5Person in front of you reclining their seat47%
6Crying babies / children47%
7Hogging the arm rest  33%
8Rushing to get off the plane   28%
9Taking shoes or socks off26%
10People asking you to move so they can get up13%

How Young Brits Respond to Annoying Passengers

So, the most annoying habits have been established… but what do young Brits do when they encounter them? Not much, in a nutshell – the most likely response is to suffer in silence (38%) followed by turning informer and telling the cabin crew (29%). A bold 28% do claim they would confront the source of their ire head-on, and just 6% say they’d change seats.

Will Jones, Brand Manager at StudentUniverse (and unofficial world expert on travel hacks) said: “It’s interesting and a little surprising that just 6% of Gen-Z would solve the problem of unbearably annoying passengers by changing seats, as that would be my top recommendation. There is almost always a number of spare seats on any flight  – especially long haul, overnight flights – and the cabin crew are usually indifferent to where passengers are sitting once the plane is airborne.”

He continued: “It means you don’t have to suffer in silence or experience the unpleasantness of confronting someone, either via the cabin crew or directly – win, win, win!” 

Dramatic Considerations by Young Brits to Avoid Annoyances 

If money were no object, the solutions would be simple for the bulk of young people, with almost two thirds (63%) saying they’d be likely to travel on private jet just to avoid the annoying habits of other passengers. Further, more than half (51%) claim they would pay a premium to board child-free flights if they existed, which they don’t. Yet. 

Despite air travel being prone to such negative irritations, the positive experiences young people have when travelling – be it for a holiday, overseas experience or to study abroad – tend to far outweigh them.

To make those irritating moments a little more bearable by saving some cash, visit to discover the best deals on flights.

Riya Sander

Riya is an inspired writer, passionate about traveling, lifestyle and encouraging startups. As a freelancer she understands the importance of productivity at work. She never stopped finding new ways to create her work productivity. Follow her on Twitter @sanderriya