Flying With Rude Passengers: Survey Asks What Would You Do

Say you’re on a plane, sitting in a middle seat, and the rude passengers on both sides of you are in command of the arm wrests. Do you say something? Ask a flight attendant to help? Say nothing and live with it? Or are you just not sure? If you are like a lot of people, you say nothing according to a fifth annual nationwide survey that asked Americans how they would handle uncomfortable but common air travel situations.

Nearly half those surveyed (48.9%) would say nothing to their arm-wrest hogging neighbors with about a quarter saying they would stand up for the space they paid for either by saying something to their overflowing seatmate (27.9%) or asking a flight attendant (2.7%) for help. The remaining 20.6 % were just not sure about it.Think that person in front of you who reclines to the point that you cannot open a laptop is a problem? You are not alone. A full 75% would either say something to that passenger or call a flight attendant for help, while 7.7% were just not sure about it. In fact, a number of survey respondents were “just not sure” about most situations. It is no surprise then when asked what to do when seated next to a non-stop talker, 89.6% of those surveyed would read a book, put on headphones, pretend to sleep or just give in and talk throughout the flight rather than say something to them directly about talking (10.4%).

The survey, conducted by the Travel Leaders Group from March 15 to April 8, 2013, measured responses from 1,788 air travelers on a number of very specific circumstances involving rude passengers.

“As their travel agent experts, we hear directly from our clients who share similar complaints regarding their experiences. In our survey, we wanted to know how many travelers proactively take some sort of action to resolve those situations,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben.

The survey also asked about screaming children on a plane (not popular), which got the highest response from respondents saying it was a matter that flight attendants should take care of.

What do you think?

[Photo credit – Flickr user by mralan]

Airline Passengers Want More Quick Self-Service Options

The Airline Passengers Bill of Rights gave air travelers compensation when bumped, a refund of fees for lost baggage, a ban on hidden fees and more. Now, airline passengers want more control via self-service and mobile-based offerings to reduce stress during travel according a survey released this week.

“What passengers really want is to avoid delays and to be kept informed of what is happening,” said Francesco Violante, CEO, SITA in a Travel Daily News report. “Nearly everyone surveyed said they would welcome any queue-busting services and 89% voted self-boarding as their top technology.”

Among findings in the survey;

  • 79% of passengers use online check-in regularly or occasionally
  • 68% prefer automated bag drop as opposed to checking it with an agent
  • 62% of passengers use social media, a higher rate than the general population
  • It’s not that today’s air traveler is anti-social; 80% of younger travelers (18-24) are active on social media, compared to 39% of the over-55s but neither group really wants to buy travel via their smartphone
  • The number of passengers with smartphones rose over the past year from 54% to 70%, fueling the desire for more self-service options

The Air Transport World (ATW) seventh annual survey was conducted with 2,526 passengers from more than 70 countries, a representative sampling of the 280 million passengers who pass through six of the world’s leading airports each year at Abu Dhabi, Atlanta, Beijing, Frankfurt, Mumbai and São Paulo.

[Flickr photo by ericksonkee]

Airline Seatmates From Hell: One Man’s Story

Hot off of blogger/travel writer Kelsey Timmerman’s Twitter comes his shocking account of nearly getting thrown down by an “octegenarian” seatmate.

Timmerman, who states he never reclines his seat during flights out of deference to fellow passengers, apparently shifted his weight a tad too violently, provoking the elderly gentleman behind him to take action. After jabbing Timmerman in the arm and informing him that he was “hitting” the gentleman in question’s laptop, Timmerman politely explained that he was just sitting there. The response? “I’ll kick your ass!”

The scene soon escalated to the octegenarian assaulting Timmerman in the form of violently punching the back of his seat and threatening to “kick [Timmerman’s] f–king ass” when the plane landed. A flight attendant then stepped in to defuse the potentially lethal seatmate situation (things can get ugly when catheters and Pacemakers malfunction at 30,000 feet). For his part, Timmerman was just hoping the cantankerous passenger would settle down, so the plane wouldn’t be forced to make an emergency landing.

Timmerman ended up with a sore neck and some sort of inner ear trauma, along with an epiphany. “Flying can be frustrating. Flying is frustrating. I’d rather be punched in the face than be delayed.”

We’d love to hear your worst seatmate stories (Mine involves an aggressive elbow/armrest war with an elderly Chinese woman on an overseas flight that led to her sleeping on the floor in front of her seat. I swear I didn’t hurt her, and the funniest part neither of us every uttered a single word.).

Discuss amongst yourselves, and share.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Olivier.Asselin]

All that and a bag of SunChips: Brand-marketing targets air travelers

Is nothing sacred? It used to be that one of the few places you could escape the never ending onslaught of advertising was the bathroom, but even that’s changed, as public urinals and toilets have become mini-billboards.

That’s one of the few niceties of flying- it provides you with an excuse to turn off the Blackberry, close your eyes (to block out the ads posted to the seat back or on the in-flight TV monitor), and escape for awhile. Have a drink, a little snack…

Wait a minute. Is that…an advertising slogan on your peanuts? Brand in the Hand, a California-based company, now offers third-party advertisers the opportunity to repurpose snack bags, beverage cups, cocktail napkins and other on board consumables into promotional vehicles.

Explains Darrin Sarto, Director of Brand in the Hand, “Having that snack is a very positive part of the flight. You had to go through security, lug your baggage around, get seated and all of the [sic] sudden, the flight attendants are handing you a free bag of peanuts. And, oh, there’s a message to read.” Kind of like a fortune cookie…only totally invasive.

This month, Hilton Garden Inn initiated a campaign on board Delta flights advertising its “Cook-to-Order” meals on peanut and pretzel bags. Expect to see other Brand in the Hand ads on AirTran, Alaska, American, Continental, Southwest, and United.

“Getting our brand message in the hands of consumers…in the act of travel and thinking about hotel choices is an ideal marketing moment for us,” Jim Cone, Vice President of Marketing at Hilton Garden Inn, said in a release. How thoughtful.

Alaska Airlines at Seattle-Tacoma Airport: A Check-in Makeover

I heard on the radio yesterday that there’s going to be a new flow for passenger check-ins at Alaska Airlines in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Recognizing that the traditional long check-in counters and passenger lines that snake around themselves while people wait their turn is not efficient. Too many people travel these days. Recognizing the dilemma, Alaska Airlines is making changes. First, there aren’t going to be any more long counters with one or two long snakey lines. Instead, there are going to be several round shaped island check-in kiosks where passengers arrange themselves. People will go to the ones with the less people. As the story said, people will organize themselves similar to how they do at grocery stores. There’s no need to herd people. Baaah! baaah!! (sheep sounds)

Also, instead of the ticket person putting passengers’ bags onto the conveyor belt after screening, the passengers will put their own bags on. The idea behind these changes is to create a better flow and to cut down anxiety which will speed up the check-in process. The system is to debuts this fall. Perhaps if Alaska Airlines’ system is successful, we’ll see more changes with other airlines’ check-in methods.