In this report
What annoys travelers most

Top travel gripes

Last reviewed: June 2010
Illustration of passengers looking at flight delays on a sign
Illustration by Neil Webb

Luggage charges and add-on airline ticket fees topped the list of 24 airline, hotel, and rental-car complaints we quizzed Americans about. In a nationally representative survey conducted in January, 2,000 respondents rated their annoyance about each gripe on a scale of 1 (not annoyed at all) to 10 (tremendously annoyed). The chart spells out the results. Among the highlights:

  • Travelers are very annoyed by rude or unhelpful staff, whether at airlines, hotels, or rental-car counters.
  • Poor communication about airline delays annoys people at least as much as the delays themselves. Message to airlines: Tell passengers what's going on.
  • Airline travelers who hog your seat and carry-on space are less annoying than some other irritants. Many people give crying babies and unruly kids on planes a pass and have apparently gotten used to puny airline snacks and long security lines.
  • Women travelers are somewhat more annoyed than men. Among complaints for which the gender gap was significant: pricey in-room hotel snacks, insufficient or chintzy hotel bedding, and high-pressure pitches for extra rental-car coverage or upgrades.
  • Some gripes, including rude or unhelpful staff, rental-car pitches, and absence of the ordered car, annoy respondents under age 50 much more than those 50 and older. However, older folks are far more ticked off than younger people by those unruly kids on planes.