Modern Travel Blunders and How to Stay Off of the Guilty List

After the Great Reclining War of 2014 that diverted a Denver-bound flight to Chicago and delayed it by one hour and 38 minutes, poor travel manners that have been long apparent to airline crews and airport staff were brought into the public eye. We’ve all been there, caught in a game of arm rest “chicken” with our neighbors and exhausted by the powerful kicks of a six-year-old seated in the row behind. Are we all bothered by the same issues while traveling? We all have our top travel annoyances, but what affects us the most? We examine shared travel pet peeves and survey advice from TripIt, The Huffington Post and The Guardian on how to have proper travel etiquette.  


Tips from TripIt on managing undisciplined children and noisy hotel neighbors

Our friends at TripIt conducted a survey of 400 American adults in September 2014 to explore people’s biggest pet peeves while traveling.  As they outline in a recent blog post, "Mind Your Travel Manners This Thanksgiving: TripIt Reveals the Top 10 Flying and Hotel Faux Pas and How to Keep the Peace", they discovered that showing respect to crew and staff is paramount with 62% of people finding it unbecoming to argue with TSA employees, flight attendants and other airline employees. Travelers also seemed to agree (at 57%) that the next most annoying thing is when people don’t discipline their children when they’re disturbing other passengers. You can see TripIt’s survey results at the end of this post.  

Amy Jackson, Senior Director for TripIt at Concur, gave some advice on dealing with travel faux pas. “When your neighboring passengers are too close for comfort or knocking the back of your seat, it’s easy to forget that they probably don’t realize their actions are affecting you,” she said. “To keep the peace, ask calmly for armrest space or a lighter touch on the touchscreen. That usually takes care of it. If a child is the source, then ask the parents so they can help enforce it.”  

Regarding the number one hotel faux pas—noisy hotel guests—Jackson suggests, “Noisy neighbors can add extra stress when travelers are trying to get a good night’s sleep away from home, so keep the revelry in the lobby bar or outside the hotel. If all else fails, call the front desk and have them deal with the situation directly. In general, noise canceling headphones can be a lifesaver on planes, in loud airports or hotels.”  


Tips from The Huffington Post on how to be a better passenger

Another issue that can increase in-flight stress is the time it takes to board the plane and settle into your seat. Watching a passenger try and unsuccessfully stuff a massive bag into the overhead compartment for several minutes, only to end up asking someone for help, can make your blood boil. What this traveler may not know is that they are solely responsible for placing their luggage into the overhead bin. HuffPost travel tells us, “It's tempting to cram everything in your carry-on to dodge checked-baggage fees, but keep in mind that you're responsible for hoisting your bag into the overhead bin, not the flight attendant. According to Adams, most airlines prohibit flight attendants from handling passengers' luggage in an effort to prevent workplace injuries and avoid liability. Pack light enough that you can handle it yourself.”  

Another excellent reminder from the Huffington Post focuses on hygiene. “When preparing for a flight make sure to wear deodorant, but be mindful not to go overboard on the cologne or perfume. (Also, if you're debating about wearing shorts versus pants, consider the pants.)” This consideration may be made for whether or not you wear shoes versus sandals, or choose to kick off your shoes in flight. Your neighbor may not be a fan of your decision to do so, which might spark a conversation.  

This leads us to addressing discussions on planes, so if having a chat about the merits of wearable technology or any other hot topic is your idea of fun, consider that it might not be to your neighbor. HuffPost suggests, “But keep in mind the passenger next to you is a captive audience with little to no escape short of the emergency door. Make sure the person next to you is really interested in talking. If the person is wearing headphones or reading, chances are this person simply wants to keep to himself.” Don’t take this as a rebuff—travel can be exhausting and most people want to take the opportunity to rest, catch up on reading or complete work if they’re on a business trip. It’s important to respect the needs of all travelers if you want to be a good passenger.  


Tips from The Guardian on in-flight etiquette

After this summer’s reclining seat issue, The Guardian’s Rhik Samadder thought it timely to review airplane etiquette with “Forget the Knee Defender, here are the dos and don’ts of aeroplane etiquette”. Here are a few key points of his advice on the perennial art of good manners:

  • DO practice arm-rest diplomacy
    • “Space negotiation in confined seating is a balancing act between comfort and good relations.”


  • DON’T try to jump any actual queues
    • “People with physical difficulties should get on first, everyone else should just wait.“


  • DO “snitch”
    • “The cabin crew are your personal secret police, expert at meting out polite cease and desists. Go rat to them, and avoid frosty stares and “accidental” chair bumps for the rest of the flight.”


Whether or not you agree with Samadder or choose to take his, TripIt’s or the HuffingtonPost’s advice, it’s clear that diplomacy, patience and consideration are key to having a pleasant, or at least manageable, travel experience. We’re all in this together because no one enjoys being in a cramped seat or breathing recycled air for hours on end, so a little courtesy can go a long way. Besides, you don’t want to be greeted by the police when you land for not being able to keep your cool.  


TripIt’s Survey Results

Top 10 Flying Faux Pas: What other travelers find the most annoying  

Rank Faux Pas Percent of Travelers
1 Travelers being rude to crew/ staff 62%
2 People who don’t discipline their children when they’re are misbehaving or disturbing other passengers 57%
3 Someone that crowds your seat and/or hogs the “extra” middle seat 51%
4 Travelers talking loudly on the plane 49%
5 People blocking the baggage claim area for others 44%
6 Those that recline their seat into your seating area 44%
7 People that bring stinky food on the plane 44%
8 Travelers that hog the carry-on bin 43%
9 Those that rush off the plane versus waiting for passengers in front to exit 41%
10 People who block the aisles during a flight 41%


Top 10 Hotel Faux Pas: What other travelers find the most annoying  

Rank Faux Pas Percent of Travelers
1 Hotel guests that are loud neighbors 65%
2 People who are rude to other travelers and hotel guests 64%
3 Guests that are rude to hotel staff 56%
4 Those that line jump for a taxi or “steal” a taxi from another guest 51%
5 Hotel guests that make a mess in common areas 45%
6 Travelers that complain about being interrupted or woken up by housekeeping when they don’t put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign 34%
7 Travelers that take things from their hotel rooms that they aren’t supposed to 33%
8 Guests that don't tip bellmen, porters or housekeeping 24%
9 Travelers that have more people stay in their hotel room than allowed 22%
10 People that leave their luggage in the hall 19%


For more information on how you can avoid committing these faux pas and other travel etiquette tips, visit the TripIt blog (  

What do you do when you see travel faux pas being committed? What are your tips on how to mind travel manners? Leave a comment below or tell us on Twitter or Facebook!  

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