Have you met Mr Smelly, his runaway kids, the armrest hogs and their friends the recliners who have no idea about flight etiquette are the worst airline passengers from hell?

Leading the annual www.Airlineratings.com Passengers from Hell complaint lists, these travellers are definitely not the ones you want to be sitting near on your next flight. They have no idea about flight manners, instead, it’s all about them.

Global airline safety and product rating website Airlineratings.com surveyed its readers to find the 10 passenger types who caused the most upset on planes.

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The 10 people you don’t want to meet on an aircraft ranked from most to least irritating.

  1. Mr Smelly

Frustration levels about smelly passengers reflect a decline in hygiene standards according to AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas.

“There has been a significant shift in passengers’ gripes about their fellow travellers, who are either not conscious of their odour or don’t care,” said Mr Thomas.

“Online or cell phone check-in now widespread. Offending passengers are slipping through the traditional checks and only coming into contact with airline agents at the boarding gate. The agents, under pressure to get the flight away, let offenders slip through.”

I think sitting next to someone who smells bad makes for a very long trip.  They top my list of worst airline passengers.

  1. Runaway kids

“Many parents think that the other 300 passengers on board are babysitters,” says Thomas.

The top two survey results also reflect the editor’s choice for the most annoying passengers.

I have to agree.  I’m usually travelling for work with a long list of things to do on a plane.  I don’t want to be distracted by other people’s children running around or worse screaming the whole trip, although I do try to be understanding.

  1. Recliners

You know, that person that reclines their seat as soon as the seatbelt sign goes off, and don’t put it up until landing. 

I’ve travelled with a lot of these people recently who even recline their seat during the meal service. They are usually male but of any age.  

The flight manners say recline if you must but not when food is served and try to let the person behind know they are about to be squashed.

  1. Armrest hogs

Reflecting the ever-decreasing amount of space on planes and the increasing size of passengers, armrest hogging passengers came in fourth.

Just so you know – passenger flight etiquette dictates that the passenger in the middle seat gets both armrests.

  1. The overhead locker hog

Increasing amounts of carry-on baggage have become a significant problem, particularly in the US, where many airlines charge for checked-in luggage. On most standard single-aisle aircraft there is not enough overhead baggage space to accommodate all the carry-on bags.

Flight etiquette says you should use the space above your seat, not above mine. 

  1. Do you need to go to the toilet again?

Cramped conditions in economy class have catapulted the passenger with the weak bladder into the sixth position.  If this is you, airline etiquette says book an aisle seat.

  1. The Chatterbox

Those people who talk the whole trip, loudly, often having conversations that should be shared only in private.  Yes, I’m talking about you who shared the in-depth details of your divorce with three rows of airline passengers.  I hope she gets all your money and the yacht.

  1. Fitness nuts

We have all read about the need to keep blood circulating on a flight, but please don’t stand in the aisle and hold on to my seat when you are doing your deep bends. Airline etiquette says this should be done sitting in your seat just like the little diagrams show.

  1. It’s all about me

The arrogant and demanding passenger who insists on being served before anyone else and is always annoying overworked flight attendants.

  1. The window hogger

Do you who down the window shade for the entire flight?  Well, some of your fellow passengers don’t like it much.  Personally, I think it is okay to have the shades down if the light is very intrusive on video screens or you want to sleep.


Now you are sorted on airline etiquette, here are some more tips to make flying fun again!

  1. Make your next flight more comfortable by dressing with these tips from top travel writers
  2. Here’s how smart travellers find the best airline deals.

Disclaimer:  The passenger survey was conducted by and results compiled by AirlineRatings.com