Experts in the Media

Gary Martin – ABC Radio Perth

Workplace & Social Affairs Expert & CEO of the Australian Institute of Management, WA

Flying etiquette and the 10 worst kinds of passengers.

After years of restricted access to travel Australians are again swarming through airports, packing a raft of behaviours that can make your flight experience terrible.

Bad manners can be almost contagious on planes as people start seeing others’ behaviour and begin copying or retaliating, a social affairs commentator told ABC Radio Perth’s Stan Shaw.

“The more rude people there are, even if there’s just a few rude people in the airport, it spreads very quickly,” Gary Martin said.

Shaw agreed.

“Take seat reclining — if the person in front of you does it, you feel compelled to do it too,” he said.

“Then it is just dominoes down the aisle.”

The worst kinds of traveller

Professor Martin, a former academic, has compiled a list of his pet peeves about improper airport and plane etiquette.

Coming in at the bottom of his list were “gate hasslers”; people who hang around the airport gate annoying and pestering staff long before they are due to board.

“These poor souls somehow think that if they actually get on that plane quicker the plane is going to get them to their destination faster,” he said.

Obnoxiously loud people, followed by odoriferous passengers, came in at number nine and eight respectively.

But they paled in comparison to the self-important passenger.

“They are entitled; using the call button every 10 minutes,” Professor Martin said.

Rounding out the bottom half of his list are the “luggage switcher” and the “overhead compartment hog”.

“A luggage switcher is someone who pushes your luggage away to make room for theirs,” he said.

“The overhead compartment hog takes up all the room and there’s no spot for your luggage.”

Impatient habits

Next comes the time-challenged passenger.

“[Someone] who somehow can’t distinguish between boarding time and departure time of an aircraft, and they’re two very different things,” Professor Martin said.

Along a similar vein were those passengers slightly too eager to get off the plane.

“These are people that get off the plane, or try to get off the plane, as soon as it’s landed,” he said.

“The seatbelt signs go off and everybody gets up and tries to push their way out of the plane.”

The rules of armrest sharing

Receiving the bronze medal on Professor Martin’s list is the armrest competitor.

He has some clear rules.

“The person in the middle should get both armrests because the other people get the sides,” Professor Martin said.

“But that’s not the case for most travellers. There’s a squabble that goes on over the armrests.”

But an even worse form of space invasion, he says, is leaning over into your neighbour’s seat.

“Number two is the seat sprawler. They actually take part of your seat,” he said.

“They lean over and they might fall asleep on your shoulder.”

The lowest of the low

The most irritating passenger of all is the seat recliner, Professor Martin said.

“No one likes getting pinned by a tray table,” he said.

The standard response to the premature recliner did not get too many votes from Professor Martin either.

“Another one to go in here as well is the seat kicker,” he said.

“It’s not just one kick, it may be two, three, or four kicks. It could be a kick every minute.”