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      Controversial Airplane Behavior Survey 2022 — 35%+ Would Not Switch to a Worse Seat So a Family Can Sit Together; 36%+ Have Removed Footwear; 57%+ Use Overhead Bins Many Rows In Front of Their Seat

      Eric Jones
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      The holiday travel season is right around the corner. Therefore, we released our study on the Best and Worst Days to Fly for the Holidays. Millions of people will be flying for Thanksgiving and Christmas which will cause a lot of stress for many. Our Airplane Etiquette Violations Survey sought to determine which co-passenger behaviors Americans found most annoying. Seat kickers and disruptive drunks were found to be the most irritating for flyers.

      To expand the Airplane Etiquette Violations survey, we conducted this Controversial Airplane Behavior survey. We wanted to know how often Americans did some of the behaviors many said were annoying. Do Americans find it rude to fully recline their airplane seat? Do they do it anyway? How often do people use overhead bin space far from their seats? How often do American adults remove their shoes when flying? Under which conditions are people willing to switch plane seats? How do American adults feel about armrest space? Please read below to find out the answers to these questions as well as an analysis.

      Do you think it is rude to fully recline your airplane seat?

      Do you think it is rude to fully recline your airplane seat?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Yes, that is why I do not do it. — 45.99%
      • Yes, but I politely ask if it is okay before doing so. — 27.87%
      • Yes, but I do it anyway without warning. — 3.46%
      • No. — 22.68%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — Men and women are equally likely to think that fully reclining your airplane seat is rude. However, men are much more likely to still fully recline their seats. 36.22% of men think fully reclining your seat is rude, yet still do it. On the other hand, only 24.87% of women think it is rude to fully recline their seat and still do it. Men that find it rude are also nearly 2.5 times more likely than women to do it without warning anyway.

      Key Takeaway More than 77% of people think it is rude to fully recline your airplane seat. The 77.32% includes the 45.99% that think it is rude and thus do not do it. It also includes the 27.87% that politely ask before doing it and the 3.46% that recline fully without warning. In total, the 77.32% represents more than 199 million American adults according to the most recent census. The 31.33% that think it’s rude and still fully recline their seat represents nearly 81 million people. Lastly, the 3.46% of people that think fully reclining your airplane seat is rude and still do it without warning represent nearly 9 million American adults.

      When seated in an aisle or window seat of a plane, do you give the middle seat the armrest?

      When seated in an aisle or window seat of a plane, do you give the middle seat the armrest?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Always. — 36.70%
      • Sometimes. — 56.28%
      • Never. — 7.01%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — The oldest generation of American adults over age 60 are the least likely to hog the armrest if they are in an aisle or window seat of a plane. Only 3.2% of people over age 60 say they never give the middle seat the armrest. On the other hand, the youngest American adults aged 18-29 are the most likely to hog the armrest when seated in an aisle or window seat. 12.15% of American adults aged 18-29 say they never let the middle seat have the armrest.

      Key Takeaway — More than 7% of people claim they never give the middle seat the armrest when seated in an aisle or window seat on a plane. This 7.01% represents more than 18 million American adults. There are more than 18 million American adults that NEVER give the middle seat the armrest! Conversely, nearly 93% of people say they always or sometimes give the middle seat the armrest. This includes the 36.70% of people that always give the middle seat the armrest and the 56.28% that sometimes do. The 36.70% that always give the middle seat the armrest represents nearly 95 million people and far outweighs those that never do. The majority of people seem to agree that the middle seat should get the armrest at least most of the time.

      Do you ever remove your shoes or other footwear on an airplane?

      Do you ever remove your shoes or other footwear on an airplane?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Yes, but I will still have my socks on. — 26.87%
      • Yes, and my socks will be off. — 9.56%
      • No. — 63.57%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — Younger American adults are much more likely to remove their shoes on a flight. 45.34% of people aged 18-29 say they’ve removed their shoes during a flight. Additionally, 45.26% of American adults aged 30-44 say they’ve removed their shoes during a flight. On the other hand, only 29.89% of people aged 45-60 have removed their shoes during flight. And, only 26.03% of American adults over age 60 have removed their footwear while flying.

      Key Takeaway — More than 36% of American adults have removed their shoes when flying. The 36.43% represents 94 million people. 94 million American adults admitted to removing their shoes during a flight. Even more surprisingly, 9.56% or nearly 25 million people admit to removing both their shoes and their socks. This is probably something you may want to reconsider as our previous survey found about one in four people find this annoying behavior.

      Under which circumstances would you give up an aisle or window seat you paid for to switch to a worse seat such as a middle or back of plane?

      Under which circumstances would you give up an aisle or window seat you paid for to switch to a worse seat such as a middle or back of plane?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • So a family can sit together. — 35.06%
      • So a couple without children can sit together. — 10.20%
      • Both. — 29.23%
      • Neither. — 25.50%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — American adults in the West South Central region are the most likely to give up a window or an aisle seat they paid for to switch to a worse seat. Only 21.82% said they would not switch for either a family or a couple. The West South Central region includes the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. On the other hand, people in the Pacific region are the least likely to give up their seats. 29.81% of American adults in the Pacific said they would not give up their seats for a family or a couple. The Pacific region includes the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii.

      Key Takeaway — More than one in four people say they would not switch to a worse seat from an aisle or window seat they paid for so a family or couple can sit together. This means nearly 66 million American adults would not switch their seats at all. On the other hand, 64.29%, or nearly two out of every three Americans would switch seats so a family could sit together, while 35.71% would refuse to move for a family. Only 39.43% of American adults would switch their seats for a couple without children.

      Do you use overhead bins that are located many rows in front of your seat such as first class or premium economy?

      Do you use overhead bins that are located many rows in front of your seat such as first class or premium economy?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Always. — 15.66%
      • Only if I am boarding late. — 16.21%
      • Only if it is a full flight. — 25.50%
      • Never. — 42.62%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — Women are much less likely than men to use overhead bins that are located many rows in front of their seats. 50.26% of women say they have never done this. On the other hand, only 34.10% of men say they have never used overhead bin space located many rows in front of their assigned seats.

      Key Takeaway — More than 57% of American adults always or under specific circumstances use overhead bins located many rows in front of their seats. This includes the 15.66% that always do it. It also includes the 16.21% that will do it if they are boarding late and the 25.50% of American adults that do it if the flight is full. In total, the 57.37% represents 148 million American adults. The 42.62% that never use overhead bins located many rows in front of their seat represents 110 million people.

      Survey Methodology

      This 2022 Controversial Airplane Behavior Survey was conducted by SurveyMonkey on behalf of The Vacationer. In total, 1,098 Americans over the age of 18 were polled on August 6. Of those surveyed, 47.27% were male and 52.73% were female. The age breakdown of participants included in this survey was 22.50% in the range 18-29, 24.95% in the range 30-44, 32.60% in the range 45-60, and 19.95% over 60. This survey has a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of ±3.018%. You can learn more about SurveyMonkey’s sampling method by clicking here.

      The questions were chosen and the results were analyzed by the post author, Eric Jones, who is a Mathematics and Statistics Professor at Rowan College South Jersey.

      Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. 

      Eric Jones Mediterranean Cruise

      By Eric Jones

      Eric Jones is the co-founder and head of operations of The Vacationer. He uses his background in mathematics as a professor at Rowan College South Jersey to conduct statistical studies and surveys on traveling and vacations. Having traveled to all 50 states and over 30 countries, Eric is well-equipped to recommend travel destinations and new adventures to those seeking lifetime experiences.