Expedia helps millions of people per year go wherever they want, so it’s very important to us that everybody has the best travel experience possible. The way we treat each other while traveling has an impact on how we feel about a trip, so we conduct our annual Airplane and Hotel Etiquette Study to pinpoint common travel annoyances and offer tips on how to deal with them. Before we dive into the results, below are some tips to keep in mind to help spread kindness and practice good etiquette whether in the air or on the ground:
- Do lend an extra hand! If a fellow traveler appears to have their hands full, offer to help and see if there is something you can do to make their life easier. This could be as simple as assisting with heavy luggage or giving attention to a restless child.
- Most travelers are trying to achieve vacation nirvana – especially after scoring great deals on Expedia. Be polite, don’t start fights or be confrontational.
- Do be mindful of the space around you. If you think you’ll need more room to stretch out during flight, consider paying a bit extra to upgrade your seat.
- If you are sick but must travel, don’t get others infected. Whenever possible, clean up around yourself and ask to be reseated away from fellow passengers — everybody will appreciate your efforts to keep others healthy.
- When staying in a vacation rental, do treat it like your own and respect the host. Don’t leave a mess, touch any personal belongings that may be out, or take things that don’t belong to you.
- As the guest in a vacation rental, do consider leaving a ‘thank you’ note. Hosts can also leave notes welcoming their guests and highlight local restaurants and activities to explore in the area. These personal touches are impactful and memorable.
- Do pay it forward! This could be as small as buying a fellow traveler coffee, tipping the flight crew and hotel staff, or as grand as offering to pay for someone’s seat upgrade. For vacation rentals, consider surprising guests with passes to a local activity.
The global etiquette report is notorious for diving deep into travelers’ preferences, behaviors and pet peeves. However, this year we’re switching things up a little to focus on the nice things we frequently do for others. But don’t worry, we’ll get to the annoying stuff later!
Goodwill on the road
It might come as a surprise, but Americans are some of the kindest and most considerate travelers in the world — often surpassing even our quintessentially “nice” Canadian neighbors. In fact, Americans ranked above the global average in terms of performing courtesies or acts of kindness for fellow travelers.
- Americans (42%) are the most willing to change their seats (vs. 33% of Canadians) so another party can sit together.
- Nearly half of Americans expressed they’ve helped someone lift their luggage into the overhead compartment (48% vs. 41% globally), and 41% believe you should almost always step in to help another passenger struggling with a heavy bag.
- 21% of Americans have helped entertain other travelers’ children compared to only 14% of Canadians.
Sharing travel tips and recommendations is another common way we help each other — globally, 25% of people have given tips to fellow airplane passengers and 35% to other hotel guests. Travel is all about making personal connections, but sometimes it’s helpful to dig deeper and follow the wisdom of the crowd. Sites like Expedia offer a wide array of travel information and local activities, all reviewed and easily accessible via a mobile app.
Americans don’t like to start fights
While being confined to an airplane seat can bring out the worst in some people, American travelers do their best to not be a nuisance and prefer to keep to themselves. In addition to being among the least likely to start a fight or be confrontational towards another passenger or the flight crew, the study found:
- 45% of Americans believe politely speaking with a seat kicker is the best way to address this annoyance, and another 16% wouldn’t even do anything because they assume it’s not intentional.
- Globally, 45% of passengers get straight to the point and ask a seat neighbor hogging the armrest to make room for them, while only 35% of Americans would take this course of action.
- Nearly 90% of Americans have never been drunk while flying to avoid being one of the commonly cited “most annoying” passengers.
The Germ Spreader is now the most annoying passenger
While 43% of global respondents identified the Drunk Passenger as the most annoying person on a plane, Americans zeroed in on a different offender: the Germ Spreader.
Imagine this scenario: You sit down in your seat and the person sitting next to you is visibly sick, coughing or sneezing. What would you do? It turns out catching a cold on the plane is something Americans really want to avoid, but they go about it in a respectable way. Nearly 50% would ask the flight attendant for a different seat, 40% would offer them tissues or cough drops if they had them, and another 31% would just apply hand sanitizer throughout the flight. Presumably, these anxieties around health and hygiene are also behind Americans’ world-leading dislike of going barefoot on a plane (78%).
The top five most annoying flight passengers for Americans are:
- The Germ Spreader (40%)
- The Seat Kicker/Bumper/Grabber (36%)
- The Drunk Passenger (35%)
- The Aromatic Passenger (32%)
- The Inattentive Parent (30%)
Vacation rental etiquette is a two-way street
Vacation rentals are getting ever more popular. For families or larger groups of friends, they offer many comforts of home — including more privacy and less chance to get annoyed by loud guests or partying across the hallway. When booking a vacation rental on a site like Expedia, travelers can see detailed descriptions and reviews that ensure that everything is set up for a relaxing vacation.
When staying in a vacation rental, most Americans agree that a few things are off limits:
- Going through the host’s personal items (75%)
- Peeing in pool (73%)
- Wearing the host’s clothes/shoes (64%)
- Taking items from the vacation rental, like a book or movie (61%)
- Taking home provided staples like spices, towels, etc. (58%)
- Inviting more people to stay without the host’s permission (57%)
When it comes to “special touches” a vacation rental host can provide, Americans most appreciate a stocked fridge (23%) or free meal upon arrival (17%) to their home away from home. A quick in-person introduction to sights and restaurants in the area was closely behind (16%), followed by a welcome drink (14%). These results show that while personal contact is still greatly appreciated when it comes to good hospitality, food and drinks are the way to American travelers’ hearts.
Want to learn which country’s approach to travel etiquette matches yours? Take a quick quiz (https://viewfinder.expedia.com/quizzes/airplane-etiquette/) and find your preferred etiquette destination.
About the 2019 Airplane and Hotel Etiquette Survey
This study was conducted on behalf of Expedia by Northstar Research Partners, a global strategic research firm. The survey was conducted online from April 12-29, 2019 across North America, Europe, South America and Asia-Pacific using an amalgamated group of best-in-class panels. The study was conducted among 18,237 respondents across 23 countries. For the Canadian specific data, a sample of 1000 random adults who travelled by airplane and stayed in a hotel or vacation rental in the past year was surveyed. Those that had not travelled by air or stayed in a hotel or vacation rental were disqualified.