The six worst types of people you encounter on a plane.

Anyone who has ever been on a plane knows that there are certain etiquette rules to follow.

Unfortunately, some travellers check their manners in with their luggage and can’t seem to follow the de facto travel code of conduct.

At Skyscanner Australia, we’ve asked Aussie travellers what their top travel pet peeves are. Find out what travellers hate the most and what to do if one of these travel faux pas happens near you.

From foul odours to rotten manners, here are the six things Australian travellers find the most annoying about flying with fellow passengers.

Travel pet peeve #1: The stinky traveller

The stinky traveller is someone who boards the plane with rancid feet, strong body odour or pulls out a BYO meal of pungent leftover surprise (and then off-gasses it an hour later). The problem with these travellers is that while they may look hygienic, one whiff of their halitosis breath will instantly tell you otherwise.

The problem with these travellers is that while they may look hygienic, one whiff of their halitosis breath will instantly tell you otherwise.

Across the board, Australian travellers can’t stand it when fellow passengers board with an offensive odour as their carry on. Stinky travellers rank as the number one pet peeve In New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and comes in as the number two pet peeve for Western Australians. 30 per cent of Australians surveyed listed the stinky traveller as their number one travel pet peeve.

30 per cent of Australians surveyed listed the stinky traveller as their number one travel pet peeve.


How to cope

Unfortunately, other than offering a breath mint or asking the traveller to put on their shoes, there is not much you can do to mask the stench of a reeking passenger.

You might want to discretely ask to switch seats if possible. Some airlines have policies where they can remove a foul-smelling passenger if their stench is causing other passengers to feel ill, or if the smell is coming from an open wound.

You can also pack a lightly perfumed scarf or sarong on your flight, and wrap it around your face as a stylish filter. If you don’t have a scarf, you can rub a small amount of mint-scented lip balm under your nose and point the above air vent towards your face.

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Do not spray any air freshener or perfume as a counter to the stinky traveller – you’ll only be fighting fire with fire.

Travel pet peeve #2: The seat basher

Seat bashers are usually (but not always) children who seem to find the back of your seat a prime place to try their hand at river dancing, stomping with the fury of one thousand grape-stompers. Or, it’s the traveller who walks down the aisle playing duck-duck-goose, yanking every head rest back on their way to the bathroom.

Child Airplane
"Seat bashers are usually (but not always) children." Image via Getty.

If you can't stand seat bashers, you’re not the only one. 27 per cent of Australian travellers ranked kicking, pushing, pulling, and bumping seats as their number one pet peeve.

How to cope

If a child is kicking the back of your seat, politely ask the child to stop or direct the request through the parents of the child. Say something along the lines of, “Excuse me, your child has been kicking my seat while I am trying to rest.” If that doesn’t work, ask a flight attendant if you can move, or ask the parent to switch seats with you.


Sometimes, the person behind you may pull or push your seat to navigate to and through the aisle. As this tends to be rarer and is often a result of turbulence or a physical reason, the best way to cope with it is to distract yourself with a book, magazine, or movie.

Travel pet peeve #3: The lounge chair traveller

To recline, or not to recline? That is a question more divisive amongst travellers than Labour versus Liberal. 17 per cent of travellers cite seat reclining seats as their most hated travel faux pas. In our article on seat etiquette, we've concluded that generally, it’s okay to recline on long-haul overnight flights, but keep your seats up during meals and shorter flights.

How to cope

There is no rule against seat reclining outside of takeoff, meals, and landings on most airlines, so unfortunately if this is your top pet peeve, there is little you can do to remedy the situation. Consider splurging for extra leg room or upgraded class seats if you hate feeling trapped behind a seat recliner. Exit rows typically have more leg room, so consider volunteering to sit there if the seats are available.

If these aren’t options, you can always ask the person in front of you to politely raise their seat – though ultimately, it’s their decision whether they want to or not.

Travel pet peeve #4: The armrest hog

Are you secretly being an armrest hog? The unofficial rule is that the person in the middle seat gets both middle armrests while the window seat gets the window armrest and the aisle seat gets the aisle armrest. In cases of multiple middle seats – well, that’s a free-for-all. 9 per cent of Australians cite armrest hogs as being their top pet peeve.


How to cope

If someone is inching their way onto and over your armrest, politely ask if you can split the space. Prop your elbow onto the back of the armrest, leaving room in the front. If your seat mate is elbowing you, let them know and ask if they can tuck their arms into their sides.

Armrest hogs often don’t know they are doing it – cramped seats, flying fears, and travel worries often dull our self-awareness. Alternatively, you can bring onboard an armrest splitter, a travel accessory that gives each person their own armrest.

Image via Getty.

Travel pet peeve #5: The impatient traveller

Fortunately, just 7 per cent of Aussie travellers rank impatient travellers as their number one pet peeve. Maybe it’s because we’ve all been there – rushing to make a connecting flight, feeling ill, or feeling eager to land a smooch on a long-distance lover. Impatient travellers often ask to cut lines, shove their way off the plane, and board before their seat section is called.

How to cope

Trying to stop or slow an impatient traveller is futile. It’s best to think the best of impatient travellers and assume they are rushing for a reason. Collect karma points by letting them pass. If they're rushing without reason, you can have the sweet satisfaction that they will likely be stuck at the baggage claim – along with everybody else.

Travel pet peeve #6: The traveller who won’t shut up

You’ve just queued up your movie, popped your ear buds in, and ordered a strong drink when the person next to you starts telling you their life story, extended edition. Though many travellers love chatting throughout their flight, 7 per cent of Australian travellers say that people blasting their devices, talking loudly, or being too talkative reigns as their top travel annoyance.

Woman Airplane
"For people who talk too much, you can put on a movie." Image via Getty.

How to cope

If a nearby passenger is playing a loud movie or music on their device, offer them your free airline headphones (you can always get another pair). If they don’t take a hint, you’ll have to ask them to turn down the volume directly, or might need to get a flight attendant involved.

For people who talk too much, you can excuse yourself to the restroom, put on a movie, or tell them that you are trying to catch up on rest.

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