Travel Update: The DDB Life Style Study® Uncovers What Most Annoys Airline Travelers

CHICAGO, June 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The DDB Life Style Study® asked Americans what was the worst experience to have on an airplane: sitting next to a boring person who won’t stop talking, sitting next to a crying baby, sitting next to an obese person, or sitting next to somebody with strong body odor. Across gender, age and parenthood status, sitting next to somebody with strong body odor was considered the worst among the four choices by 64% of people.

The unpleasantness of sitting next to a crying baby pales in comparison, with only 23% of people citing this as the worst. Apparently, boring people can keep talking because only 8% of people found this the worst, and only 6% of people claimed sitting next to an obese person as the worst.

“Considering there are several movements currently taking place to create family-only sections of aircrafts, we were surprised to find that crying babies didn’t rate higher as an annoyance to airline travelers,” said James Lou, U.S. Chief Strategist at DDB. “There has been a lot of press indicating that people wish there were child-free flights. Stories of lawsuits about passengers claiming hearing loss as a result of sitting next to screaming children and news of families who were removed from flights because of their unruly children have received a lot of attention, but apparently those issues are in reality less bothersome than others.”

Unsurprisingly, parenthood status does seem related to feelings about sitting next to a crying baby. According to the study, people who have children aged five or under are more tolerant of sitting next to a crying baby, with only 8% citing this as the worst choice.  People with children aged 6 or older are less tolerant, with 18% claiming that sitting next to a crying baby is the worst.

“It’s possible that these parents have selective memories of their own children’s behavior or higher opinions of their own abilities to console their little bundles of joy,” added Lou.

“Given how much conversation there has been around overweight individuals having to pay for an extra seat on some airlines, we were also surprised to find that sitting next to an obese person was the least bothersome to our respondents,” added Lou. “It seems that we as a society may be more tolerant of overweight people than some of the new airline policies would have us believe.”




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