Air travel is increasingly becoming a place for misconduct and poor behavior.
An American Airlines passenger is facing federal charges for physically assaulting a flight attendant on a flight last week from San José del Cabo, Mexico, to Los Angeles. The unruly passenger was caught on video running up behind the flight attendant before punching them in the back of the head. American Airlines said "acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated" and banned the assaulter from ever flying with the airline again.
In the past year, there have been 1,973 reports of unruly passengers and 680 investigations, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Just two years ago, in 2020, there were 183.
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More bad behavior on flights
This incident is hardly isolated.
"Flight Attendants are signing up for crew member self-defense training at rates higher than after 9/11," Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told USA TODAY. "The frequency of disruptive and violent passengers is still way higher than pre-pandemic, and there’s a lot of work to do to stop or mitigate these incidents on planes."
"People need to know the rules and the consequences for violating them in order to stop bad actors from putting everyone at risk," she added.
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Besides misconduct aimed at flight attendants, overall airline behavior has been found to be getting worse. A recent survey by The Vacationer asked over 1,000 American adults about the rudest airline behaviors by fellow passengers. Being drunk and disruptive to others and kicking the back of the seat in front of you ended up tying for the worst.
"Ideally, the survey will make people pause and think about co-passenger behavior that may have upset them and what they may be doing to upset others," Phil Dengler, founder of The Vacationer, told USA TODAY. "For some reason, usually polite people sometimes get on a plane and their behavior drastically changes."
"Alcohol is absolutely a factor, and I think the recent surge in cancellations and delays this past summer contributed to it," Dengler said. "Combine that with the fact that seats in economy have limited space and are not very comfortable, people are just agitated when flying."
This past summer, air travel became a source of frustration as flight delays and cancellations went through the roof due to poor weather and staff shortages.
Read below to learn more about the worst airplane behaviors:
Fully reclining your seat
Reclining your seat on the plane has been called "one of the most irritating, inconvenient, self-indulgent habits" on a flight. Those extra two inches are often the center of heated debates, especially as airlines squeeze more passengers onto planes.
The survey found that over 77% of people find reclining an airplane seat all the way rude. However, nearly one-third of survey respondents said that even though it's rude, they still fully recline their seats. But the majority of those people said they ask the person behind them first.
Removing your shoes
To get comfortable, some people like to take their shoes off on the plane – over 36% of American adults. Almost 10% of people take off both their shoes and their socks during a flight.
According to the survey, it's usually the younger adults who like to do so. People may want to reconsider freeing their feet on their next flight since about 25% of survey respondents find this behavior to be annoying.
Using overhead bins toward the front of a plane
On most flights now, you'll likely hear airline staff asking people over the intercom to place their baggage in overhead bins by their seats or that the flight is full and overhead bin storage will be limited. It makes sense then that the coveted storage space becomes a place of controversy for airline passengers. About 15% of Americans said they "always" use "overhead bins that are located many rows in front of their seats such as first class or premium economy." About a quarter of people said they will "only if it is a full flight." Forty-two percent said they would never.
"I also see people putting their carry-on luggage in overhead bins in first class or towards the front of the plane and walking to their seats in the back," Dengler said. "While I understand it is a hassle to carry your luggage all the way to the back of the plane, it can cause issues taking the already limited overhead bin space in the front of the plane. Those who are seated towards the front of the plane may have to put their luggage behind them, which creates issues when deboarding."
What are your biggest traveling pet peeves?
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rudest airplane behaviors: reclining seats, stealing overhead bins