The MSN Traveler

Flight attendants weigh in on their biggest pet peeves

Cabin crew members pick the most irritating habit of travelers, and it's not what you think.

By Chelsea Lin Nov 15, 2012 4:31PM

We’ve all spent a flight cramped in the confines of a plane cabin with The Passenger from Hell. Perhaps it’s a feral three-year-old and his blasé parents, who can’t (or rather, won’t) keep him from kicking the back of your chair all the way from CDG to JFK. Maybe it’s the businessman who insists 30,000 feet up is the perfect locations to clip his fingernails, or the nervous flyer who guzzles four mini bottles of booze in the first hour and then passes out into your already limited personal space. My personal favorite is sitting next to the newlyweds who can’t keep their hands off each other.


It’s enough to make you feel sorry for the poor cabin crew members responsible for keeping these misfits in line.


But what habits do these patient saints of the sky actually find the most irritating in travelers? It’s not the nail clipping or the booze swilling or the making out. According to a Skyscanner survey of more than 700 international crew members from 85 countries, the most annoying habit is when passengers snap their fingers to get attendants’ attention (folks, that’s what that little call button is for). Other unpopular behaviors include getting out of your seat at the end of the flight before the sign goes off (I hate that, too!), stuffing too many bags in the overhead, and asking for more blankets/a different meal/a certain brand of beverage. What, did you think flying was supposed to be comfortable?


Another interesting tidbit from the survey: the ideal passenger is apparently a 30-something single male traveling for pleasure rather than business.


What’s your pet peeve among fellow flyers?


Photo courtesy of bradleygee.

Dec 15, 2012 10:38PM
avatar must be one of those glorified waitresses with her head in the clouds.  I can read whatever I please.  Perhaps it's the attitudes of the flights attendants revealed in the articles that cause people to treat you the way they do.  This is America and I have the right to voice my opinion.  Why don't go you go to the lavatory and flush yourself.
Dec 2, 2012 9:41PM
The phobic passenger who gets flatulent from the stress of travel...especially if they;re within 5 rows of you. Very close second...the shrieking baby.
Dec 2, 2012 9:27PM
The person in front of you puts his seat back and slms into you knees. I wish airlines would eliminate the reclining seat
Dec 2, 2012 6:50PM
When the person in front of you puts their seat all the way back and then gets annoyed if you have to get up.  (I have to get up every hour to walk - heart issue.) 
Dec 2, 2012 4:24AM

I took a red eye from Anchorage to Seattle. I had the window seat I requested but was hemmed in by two teen age mothers with screaming infants. Apparently they had not brought a bottle, wet wipes or diapers for the babies that were throwing up, having diarrhea and screaming because they didn't even have a pacifier to suck on so their ears would pop and stop hurting.

The man behind me gallantly offered to change seats with me. When we switched, I found a passed out drunk woman who had vomited all over herself next to me.

I got up and went to the front of the plane and stood the whole way to Seattle. How do these idiots even afford to fly???


Dec 2, 2012 2:15AM
I pushed my 90+ year-old daddy in his own wheel chair, and the "search" was amazingly thorough and invasive.  And, in the bargain, TSA people were incredibly rude to Daddy and to me.  Seriously?  What did they think he was capable of doing?  They scared him to death.  They even opened the little pouch that holds his hearing aid, dropped it on the floor, and forced me to retrieve it.  Not a word of apology.  TOO much power for people who don't know how to handle ANY power.  Upon returning home I wrote a letter to TSA, detailing the frightening experience.  Never heard a word back.
Dec 1, 2012 3:18PM
people who bring their whole life on board and try to fit it in the overheads
Nov 30, 2012 11:17PM
My pet peeve is TSA, I really frightens me how easily Americans handed over their constitutional right to "UNREASONABLE SEARCH". if on person in a million, is a security risk, that means that the Government has the right to do a basic full cavity search, OK it done electronically, but still in effect done. would we also allow this to our homes, I hope not, or we will be very close to a police state. I gave up flying when TSA come on the scene, I would rather take the extra time and drive.
Nov 30, 2012 11:34AM
seat backs were designed to recline! GET OVER IT!
Nov 30, 2012 3:31AM
I was working in the Middle East when the Second War blew up.  I was there over a year. Anyway, I changed flights at Amsterdam and slept almost all the way back to the States I was so exhusted,  Twice the flight attendant (bless her heart) had to apoligetically wake me up for the meals.  I promptly went back to sleep.  I think the lady counted me among the best passengers on the flight -- I slept.  # # #
Nov 29, 2012 8:42PM
When the person sitting in front of you flops their
seat back in your face, leaving you three inches of space!!!!

Nov 29, 2012 3:59PM
I hate when someone is wearing some stink azz chemical they call perfume!  Or when some has not washed their behind.  If I had to pick between the 2 I think I'd take the non washer over perfume Penny!  Like who wants to be crying, coughing and chocking 30,000 ft up@!
Nov 29, 2012 10:15AM
It's a toss up between the fatties, the crying baby and the drunkard.
Nov 28, 2012 2:37PM

I hate when the person in front of me puts there seat back in a rough way, which often hits me in a part of my body, maybe my head if I'm leaning forward, for instance.  Then we fly the rest of the way essentially with them in my lap!  And even if they're not sleeping, they stay there.  I, at the most, put my seat back, after checking behind me, an inch or 2, and put my seat back up when I wake up.  If it's someone with very long legs, I just don't put it back at all.  It's simple consideration. 


I find the best flight attendants simply smile--makes everything better.  And I try to do the same.

Nov 28, 2012 1:39PM
Neeter- as an ex airline employee we always in the past seated from the rear of the aircraft and worked forward. However today, with all the priority frequent flyers, gold, silver, elite, etc. who are boarded first and are seated all over the cabin that does not work any more and actually takes a lot longer to board.
Nov 28, 2012 11:36AM
I have always thought of flight attendents as the #1 company rep. I have seen them cused , hit appond by rude male and have seen the best of them after an inflight emergency as they know the captain and first officer have their hands full. As a military air traffic controller in the USAF, my crew had a Trans Carribean CV580 with an engine on fire and always during a storm condition seems like,we directed the aircraft to our base due to the firefighting crash personnel are to notch, to the point the flight attendants handled the cabin  duties very good and got everyone out of the aircraft safely without any injuries. During the late 1960,s with Nam in the news everyday I was flying on Delta Airlines from FL to OH. I was flying military standby which all vets understand that status. I got onto my flight and as I was taking my seat at the rear and in full uniform 2 males spit on me and called me some names I would,nt even call my best friend the flight attendant said she was sorry that happened asked for my dress uniform coat,cleaned off the matter and gave it back to me with a smile and apolgized for it , what could I say except a very good thankyou. She also by someway got me to stay on the aircraft to columbus, Oh. The first Officer even walked with me into the airport,shook my hand and thanked me for my service..Flight Attendants will always be on my #1 list as good people. I ended up as a pilot after active duty,but never came face to face with them until some 14 years after.... Thank you all fight attendents and to the one who showed me the goodness of her heart,I never found out her name.God Bless her.. 
Nov 28, 2012 10:50AM
Dont you just love it when the last guy on the plane actually thinks there is room in the overheads, and then gets upset because there isn't any.
Nov 27, 2012 4:28PM
The airlines charge for priority boarding. The attendants are supposed to make sure passangers only place one bag in the overhead compartment not two, the second bag is supposed to be smaller  a purse, camera bag or laptop case the attendant is suppose to make sure the second bag  is placed under the seat, not in the overhead compartment. If you are not amoung the first to board there will be no overhead compartment space left because the first to board put all their bags in the overhead compartment.. The airlines are aware of this, that is why they charge for priority boarding.
Nov 27, 2012 2:02PM

I blame the airlines partly for my pet peeve.  Why don't airlines with assigned seating, start seating from the rear of the plane first.  That way, people are not climbing over each other when they are trying to get on board.  If you work from the rear forward, it would solve a lot of the waiting and frustration issues.


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