Stats: Most Air Travelers Would Stay Polite to Smelly Seatmate

Airplane cabin with passengers
Photo by AlxeyPnferov/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Incidents of passenger rage might make the news but most travelers remain civil when faced with at least one uncomfortable situation, according to a survey conducted by The GO Group LLC, an international ground transportation provider.

When asked what they would do if their seatmate reeked – whether it was from body odor, perfume or from something they ate – 38 percent said they would say nothing and instead "grin and bear it."

To switch seats without offending their seatmate, 25 percent opted to ask an attendant for another one because of real or made-up perfume allergies.


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Thirty-two percent would ask an attendant for a new seat outright and 5 percent noted they would be passive-aggressive and say nothing but would make pained noises and fanning gestures throughout the flight.

"Flying can be stressful, frustrating and physically uncomfortable, and travelers may feel they have little control over their surroundings," said John McCarthy, president of The GO Group, in a written statement.  "This survey indicates most passengers choose to remain polite in an unpleasant situation."

Respondent comments included: "I would breathe deeply, show grace, and start a conversation. They may have a great story to tell about the smell" and another noted, having been in that situation, after a while they would get "nose amnesia."

More than 300 people responded to the survey. The GO Group conducts surveys about travel related issues and distributes the results monthly.

Source: The GO Group

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