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Parents of noisy children rank as most annoying airline passengers

TRAVEL BRIEFCASE

Other top etiquette violations on airplanes, according to an Expedia survey, are passengers who kick the seats in front of them and travelers with foul odors.

December 16, 2013|By Hugo Martín
  • Delta Air Lines uses passenger data on a limited basis to offer travelers the options they are mostly likely to want, airline spokesman Paul Skrbec says.
Delta Air Lines uses passenger data on a limited basis to offer travelers… (Charlie Riedel, Associated…)

If you are a parent who lets your children scream and go nuts on a plane, congratulations — you top the list of most annoying etiquette violators in the air.

Parents who travel with loud children are considered more annoying than passengers who kick the in front of them and travelers with foul odors. Even fliers who take off their shoes and socks in the air-tight cabin are less offensive, according to a survey of 1,001 Americans by the travel website Expedia.

Annoying children and their parents were ranked by 41% of those surveyed as the most annoying airplane etiquette violators. So it was no surprise that 49% of Americans surveyed said they would pay extra to be seated in a designated "quiet zone," free of screaming children, the survey found.

But the survey pointed out some hypocrisy: Travelers who fully recline their seats were ranked as the 7th worst violation even though 80% of travelers admitted that they recline their seat all the way at some point in the flight.

"Most of us, when we look at the list of offending behaviors, can admit to having committed to one or more of these violations," said John Morrey, general manager of Expedia.

Travel websites to customize deals

When you go online to search for an airfare, you often see the lowest price appear at the top of your computer screen.

But what if your airline search site instead offered you a customized flight package deal — adding extras such as wireless Internet access and a seat with extra legroom — based on what you have booked in the past?

In the future, airlines will increasingly offer travelers customized airfares based on detailed information that carriers have collected, even data about your income, the neighborhood where you live and your travel patterns, according to industry experts.

"We expect to see more airlines adopt this trend in commerce as they continue to offer passengers a more personalized travel experience," said Vaughn Jennings, a spokesman for Airlines for America, a trade group for the nation's airlines.

It's a trend that worries consumer advocates.

"It will be the death of comparison shopping," said Charles Leocha, director of the nonprofit Consumer Travel Alliance and author on travelers rights.

A consumer protection panel, appointed by the U.S. Transportation Department, will meet Monday in Washington to discuss customized airfare pricing. The panel could recommend a new federal rule that requires airlines to disclose what information they are collecting from travelers, said Leocha, who is a member of the board.

Delta Air Lines, one of the nation's largest carriers, uses passenger data on a limited basis to offer travelers the options that they are most likely to want, said spokesman Paul Skrbec. But he said Delta will always protect the private information of its customers.

"Privacy is an absolute top priority for us," he said.

Conventional wisdom

Here's a tip on how to save lots of money on a hotel room: Don't book a room when a big convention is in town.

As with all other industries, hotels boost rates when demand increases.

The average hotel rate in San Francisco jumped to $272 a night for the period Dec. 10 to 14, a 75% increase compared with earlier in the month, according to the travel website Trivago. The hike came when three major conventions — for geophysicists, online and mobile executives and construction experts — rolled into town.

"Travelers should generally be careful about booking a hotel at the time that a big convention is in town," Trivago spokeswoman Katie Merrill said.

Meanwhile, hotel rates have increased no more than 12% in December at the most popular U.S. travel destinations surveyed by Trivago.

In Los Angeles, hotel prices for December are up 9% from the same month last year, according to the travel site.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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