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Other Plane Passengers More Annoying Than My Kids

Photograph by Getty Images

The most annoying air passenger isn't the stinky guy with a big butt who leans his chair all the way back and belches/farts throughout the flight. Rather, it's you, mom and dad, hauling your screechy toddler with the kicky feet across a continent to see grandma.

According to an Expedia survey of 1,001 travelers, air passengers have more disdain for parents of children with ants in their pants than even for those sociopathic shoe removers who think nothing of airing their sour feet in the tightly sealed cabin.

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Some 41 percent said the most annoying airplane etiquette violators are the parent and kid passengers. You know what, big babies? Waaah. Because those who recline their seats as far back as they'll go only ranked 7th on the list of most annoying. If that's how you're gonna play it, air travelers of the world, then I say game on.

I've flown a ton with my three kids, and I can honestly say I don't care anymore how passengers feel about any of them on a flight. With my oldest child, I used to sweat every trip from take-off to landing. Could I breast-feed without offending my seat mates? Could we get through the flight without her making a peep? How agile I was catching her foot before it could make contact with the chair in front of her! Then came my second, who was a little feistier than my first. How I pitied that poor woman, whose teased brassy hair was so tempting for my girl's little fingers. "That lady must be so tired, honey." Why else would she recline her seat nearly all the way in my daughter's lap?

It's not only the kids, the survey respondents whine, but their inattentive parents.

Then there's my son, with whom I traveled frequently when he was a toddler. There's nothing like emergency flights to see a dying mother—and back again to attend the funeral—to give you perspective along the lines of, "I don't give a shit if my son's getting on your nerves." I remember being seated behind this French-speaking winter sports guy who leaned his chair all the way back and then complained to me that my son kept pulling at the headrest. "You have to sit up if you want me to do anything about it," I said. (Perhaps he was one of 1,001 surveyed?)

The sentiments of apparently 41 percent of air travelers is a good reminder that today's adults were perfectly modulated as children and saved their meltdowns for the privacy of the station wagon. And that if you paid your discount fare to travel on what is basically a Greyhound bus in the sky, you're entitled to blame every discomfort you experience on the still-developing brains of the young passengers in rows 16 and 31.

It's not only the kids, the survey respondents whine, but their inattentive parents. As parents of babies and toddlers know, the consequences of shushing/forcibly seating/feet holding can often be worse than the crime. Once, an entire section of the plane that had been shooting daggers at me with their eyes cheered upon the drinks cart's arrival. My son was in that broken-record phase of toddlerhood and had been repeating "apple juice, apple juice, apple juice" for a good 45 minutes. It was getting on my nerves, too; and yet, as a favor to my fellow passengers, I did nothing. As expected, folks passed on the opportunity to thank me.

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The Top 10 Most Annoying Etiquette Violators, according to the survey:

1. Inattentive Parents


2. Rear Seat Kicker


3. The Aromatic Passenger


4. The Boozer


5. Chatty Cathy


6. Audio Insensitive


7. Seat-Back Guy


8. Carry-on Baggage Offenders


9. The Back-Seat Grabber


10. The Queue Jumper


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