Bernadine Mendes, a nurse, returned to Mumbai on a flight from Tel Aviv, Israel last week. Her greatest source of discomfort during the eight-hour trip? A co-passenger who kept up a steady stream of conversation throughout, preventing her from getting a good night’s rest. By the end of the journey, Mendes said she seriously considered paying the airline extra to seat her somewhere quieter. She is not alone. As many as 68% of Indian fliers dread being seated next to a passenger who talks too much, said a study released on Thursday. The Flight Etiquette Survey 2017 — conducted by Expedia, an online travel company — showed 65% of Indians would not hesitate to pay extra to be seated in a designated ‘quiet section’ if the aircraft made provisions for one.
Ironically, 61% of the 1,002 Indian adults surveyed said they used flights as an opportunity to meet new people. Krupa Joseph, a freelancer, said she often carries a book on domestic flights as it makes for a great conversation starter.
As many as 60% said they often engaged the stranger seated next to them in conversation, with 57% saying they felt comfortable discussing polarising topics such as religion or politics with a co-passenger. Interestingly, only 33% of respondents said they would frown upon being seated next to a flirtatious passenger. “I don’t think it is possible to form a lasting connection with someone you’ve only spoken to for a few hours on a flight, but flirting with a co-passenger is an interesting way to pass the time,” said Joseph.
As many as 52% of fliers said rear-seat kicking was the worst violation of airport etiquette that a co-passenger could commit, followed by drinking too many alcoholic beverages before or during the flight (50%), talking loudly or listening to music at deafening volumes (49%), failing to look after crying or misbehaved children (48%) and rushing to disembark ahead of those seated in front of them (43%).
“The worst thing a co-passenger could do is be rude to the air-hostesses. I have observed this several times. Being seated next to a crying infant, especially during long flights, comes second because there is nothing one can do in such a situation, except feel sympathetic towards the parents,” said Ivan Fernandes, vice president (marketing) at Sajjan India Limited.
However, only 13% of fliers said they would shame the offending passenger on social media. Alerting the flight attendant seemed to be the most popular way of dealing with misbehaving co-passengers, with 69% of respondents saying they would opt for this. Only 30% said they would confront an unruly passenger directly.
“I’ve encountered fliers who’ve pushed their co-passengers out of the way in a bid to disembark first. I prefer confronting such people on the spot. Complaining about them on social media later is too little, too late,” said Sanjana Sule, a content writer.
Fernandes said he is also irked by fliers who ask him to exchange seats prior to take-off. It is not uncommon for Indians to be unhappy with their allotted seat, with 6% of respondents admitting to faking an illness or injury just to get a better seat.
The survey however, states that 76% of Indians feel that for most part, their fellow passengers are considerate and as many as 59% have offered their seat to a co-passenger in need, said Manmeet Ahluwalia, marketing head, Expedia.