What gets your goat?

Posted Date: 22 December 2014
Travel irritations

Dirty accommodation, loud, arrogant tourists and smelly airline passengers are among the biggest irritations when travelling, according to an annual survey of New Zealand travellers carried out by Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI).

The SCTI survey of over 2,000 Kiwis, carried out by TNS in September 2014, revealed the most annoying things a traveller can do on a flight:

Smelly passengers: 30%

We’ve all been there, whether it’s coffee breath or whiffy shoes, when you’re trapped in a confined space with strangers it seems nothing is more unbearable than a stinky traveller.

Children that misbehave (22%)

We’re not talking screaming babies here, they can’t help it and to be fair most kids travel well these days, it’s the little guys that won’t sit still. Inflight entertainment seems to have most of them tamed, but not all. And even if you have children of your own it’s pretty hard to put up with someone else’s…

Talking loudly or incessantly (17%)

There’s the overly friendly passenger that won’t let you read, the old friends catching up while you’re trying to sleep or the noisy buddies with their endless bad jokes.

Recline their seat (12%)

Nothing says economy better than having the seat in front recline so far back that you can look down on its occupant. The only solution seems to be to join in and recline yourself, but be ready for a disapproving grunt from behind – or is that above?

So what should you do?

When asked what action they would take in response, 28% admitted they would do absolutely nothing but silently fume, while others felt the need to be more proactive:

  • 18% would report the passenger to airline staff
  • 17% would confront the passenger directly
  • 17% would ask for a new seat
  • 8% would try to get their own back – in a subtle manner
  • 4% would rant about it on social media.

Craig Morrison, SCTI CEO, says there are some people who are rude and inconsiderate travellers, meaning these irritations simply can’t be avoided.  However, travellers with the potential to be annoyed should ensure they are in the best frame of mind when they start their trip.

“If you board a flight already cranky then you’re more likely to become annoyed. Don’t underestimate the value of eating well and getting enough sleep in the days before you fly, so you’re physically and mentally in a good place.”

Top irritations on the ground

Once a destination is reached, the top things that take the shine off a holiday are:

  • Dirty accommodation 36%
  • Delays 25%
  • Creepy crawlies 12%
  • Other tourists 5%
  • Children 3%

In comparison, the 2013 survey had delays top at 39%, dirty accommodation at 26%, other tourists at 9% and children at 7%.

Morrison says the trick to avoiding disappointment is to be realistic about your expectations. He says that while travel insurance covers many things, it can’t cover the quality of your holiday.

“It’s very rare for a travel experience to go exactly as planned – or as you imagined in your head – and you have to be able to roll with it and not let it mar your enjoyment. We had someone submit a claim because they felt the rain ruined their Pacific Island holiday.”

SCTI also asked travellers about what behaviour in other tourists they find the most maddening. Loud (69%), arrogant (68%) and constantly complaining (54%) were the top picks, while of lesser irritation are being drunk (20%), overly friendly (16%) and boring (13%).

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