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You Won't Believe How Many People Take Their Shoes Off on Airplanes

TheStreet 9/30/2022 Michael Tedder

A new survey reveals that your fellow airline passengers engage in some alarming behavior.

Frankly, air travel stinks these days.

Thanks to covid infections, labor shortages and climate change-induced weather disruptions, flights cancellations and delays have become so common that Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has started bringing down the hammer. He sent a letter telling the industry that it needed to ship up, and has proposed legislation that would make the airlines such as Delta  (DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines Inc. Report and United  (UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings Inc. Report guarantee a refund for a delay or cancellation.

But the current miserable state of flying isn’t solely the fault of airlines, as it’s become readily apart that many of our fellow airline passengers have become increasingly inconsiderate.

By now you’ve probably seen a viral video or TikTok of an irate passenger getting into a fight with someone on a plane, or yelling at a poor flight attendant who is just trying to do their job.

Why these sorts of behaviors are manifesting is difficult to say, and likely a job for sociologists and mental health professionals. But the expert opinions tend to attribute it to lasting psychological trauma from the covid lockdown, as well as a highly polarized political climate in which it’s very easy to view people who seem culturally different from you as the enemy. 

That said, a new survey from The Vacationer has revealed that on-flight fights are just the most visible symptom of a society that is increasingly embracing some alarmingly inconsiderate behavior.

The Vacationer’s Survey Reveals Controversial Behavior

The Vacationer’s 2022 Controversial Airplane Behavior Survey was conducted by SurveyMonkey on August 6, polling 1,098 Americans over the age of 18. Here’s some of the key findings regarding airline behavior that many people might find questionable. 

  • Nearly 36% of Americans would not switch to a worse seat, meaning middle or back of the plane, so a family with kids could sit together.
  •  More than 36% of Americans have removed their footwear when flying. Nearly 10% of Americans have removed both their shoes and socks.
  •  More than 57% of Americans have or would use overhead bins located many rows in front of their seat. That includes bins above first class and premium economy seats. 
  •  Only 36.70% of Americans always give the middle seat the armrest when seated in an aisle or window seat. 
  •  More than 77% of Americans think it is rude to fully recline your seat, but more than 31% who think it is rude will still fully recline after politely asking or doing it without asking.

47.27% of the people surveyed were male, and 52.73% were female; 22.50% were in the range 18-29, 24.95% in the range 30-44, 32.60% in the range 45-60, and 19.95% over 60.

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Should You Take Your Shoes Off on a Plane? 

Of course, everything is subjective. Some people may think that if the bins above you are full, then it’s fine to use a bin that’s ahead of you. Your luggage has to go somewhere, right?

And while some people might object to the site of bare toes on a plane, if the owner's feet don’t actively smell bad, it’s debatable whether any harm is being done here.

But if you’re curious about the attitudes of your fellow travelers, The Vacationer also polled people on their attitudes about various “controversial” behaviors.

1. Do you think it is rude to fully recline your airplane seat?

  • Yes, that is why I do not do it. — 45.99%
  • Yes, but I politely ask if it is okay before doing so. — 27.87%
  • Yes, but I do it anyway without warning. — 3.46%
  • No. — 22.68%

2. When seated in an aisle or window seat of a plane, do you give the middle seat the armrest? 

  • Always. — 36.70%
  • Sometimes. — 56.28%
  • Never. — 7.01%

3. Do you ever remove your shoes or other footwear on an airplane?

  • Yes, but I will still have my socks on. — 26.87%
  • Yes, and my socks will be off. — 9.56%
  • No. — 63.57%
  •  

4. Under which circumstances would you give up an aisle or window seat you paid for to switch to a worse seat such as a middle or back of plane? 

  • So a family can sit together. — 35.06%
  • So a couple without children can sit together. — 10.20%
  • Both. — 29.23%
  • Neither. — 25.50%
  •  

5. Do you use overhead bins that are located many rows in front of your seat such as first class or premium economy?

  • Always. — 15.66%
  • Only if I am boarding late. — 16.21%
  • Only if it is a full flight. — 25.50%
  • Never. — 42.62%
 

So keep all this in mind next time you head to the airport, as we can all do our part to make flying better.

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