Inattentive parents no longer most annoying air travelers

Being "inattentive," en route from SAN to STS.

Being “inattentive,” en route from SAN to STS.

Here’s something worth celebrating: “Inattentive Parents” no longer are the most annoying air travelers, at least according to the second-annual Airplane Etiquette Survey from Expedia (a client of mine).

The survey, released today, revealed that “Rear Seat Kickers” replaced slacker moms and dads in the top spot in the 2014 poll. For family travelers, this gives the haters one less thing to throw in our faces the next time we fly.

(Though you could make the argument that most of the rear-seat kickers are kids.)

It also means there’s a brand new reason to talk about airplane etiquette, especially as it pertains to families.

One of the most colorful parts of the discussion revolves around “Seat Back Guy,” that passenger who unapologetically and repeatedly reclines his seat on you. This is irritating for all passengers, but it is particularly irksome for family travelers (as we need all the space for the kids we can get). In short, one aggressive recliner can make even the shortest trips with kids miserable.

I’ll never forget the trip on which some dude tried to recline his seat back toward L. My older daughter, who was maybe 4 at the time, let the guy have it, yelling at him for “invading my personal space!” until the dude sat back up.

It might be one of the best family travel moments of my (short-lived) career.

Of course another engaging part of the discussion on airplane etiquette is an analysis of what constitutes “inattentiveness” among parents. When R threw a temper tantrum on the flight home from San Diego last weekend, was I being “inattentive” by not stopping her but letting her work it out? Or does “inattentive” describe the mom who is pounding nips of vodka while junior runs up and down the aisle?

The survey, which catalogued opinions from 1,000 Americans, didn’t specify on these subjects, but we only can imagine.

Anyway, if you’re interested in airplane etiquette—or you’ve thought about how you might be more considerate the next time you travel with your kids—give the study a read. Also, check out Expedia’s fun (and easy-to-navigate) infographic on the subject.

What kind of air traveler do you consider to be the most annoying passenger?

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