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Do You Have Bad Travel Etiquette?

Travel is stressful, and rife with interactions that could easily and quickly escalate into nasty confrontations. Etiquette and self-restraint are keys to hassle-free trips, and travelers seems to be behaving accordingly.

A survey by Travel Leaders Group probed travelers’ attitudes toward a range of dilemmas likely to be encountered in the course of a trip, ranging from line-cutters to able-bodied travelers’ monopolizing seats earmarked for the disabled.

(Conspicuously missing from the survey question was one of the most contentious issues faced by travelers packed into crusher coach seats on full flight: How to handle seat recliners?)

Among the findings:

  • While 57% would not occupy a seat reserved for the disabled, 25% would “if there wasn’t a disabled traveler in the area.”
  • 57% of respondents would take no action if someone cuts ahead of them in the flight-boarding line; 35% would confront the line-cutter.
  • On a cruise ship, 60% would take not action of someone cut into the buffet line ahead of them; 25% would speak up.
  • To accommodate a couple or family wishing to sit together, 45% would move to another seat, regardless of where it was located; 35% would, but only if the new seat was not a middle seat; and 11% would move only if the new seat was on the aisle. Only 1% wouldn’t move for any reason.
  • Witnessing a passenger mistreating a crew member, 60% would call another flight attendant to handle the matter; 21% would confront the abusive passenger directly; 14% would record the incident on a smartphone.

In all, the results, based on feedback from 2,854 travelers, were heartening. Most respondents claimed they would exercise restraint, patience, and generosity when facing potentially disruptive situations. At the same time, they were sufficiently willing to confront misbehavior to keep would-be abusers from running roughshod over others.

Of course, a “what if …” survey like this only elicits respondents’ idealized reactions, so it’s fair to ask whether their actual behavior, in the event, would differ. Judging from the relatively modest number of air rage incidents, and travel-related meltdowns generally, compared to the volume of travel, it would seem that travelers indeed manage to keep their worse selves in check.

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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