There are plenty of ways to get annoyed on a flight, but having the back of your seat incessantly kicked really takes the cake.
Since the guilty party is usually a child, your options are limited when it comes to handling the problem. React too harshly and you’ll have angry parents on your hands, but if you’re too nice or choose to ignore it, it’s probably not going stop.
In a discussion on online forum Quora, frequent flyers shared their tips for coping with this annoyance, after one user asked: “Have you ever had a kid behind you on an airplane kicking the seat the entire flight?”
“Occasionally the kid would miss the seat and his shoe would go between my seat and the other seat next to me. And about half those times it would get stuck for a second.”
One commenter, Bill Jones, came up with a novel way to trap a kicker in the act.
“I got a bit annoyed, and hatched a plan, thinking it probably would not work. But it did,” he wrote.
“I put my upper right arm between the seat back edge and the plastic fuselage liner to check the fit. Just right.
“Next kick I shoved my arm back. It worked way beyond expectation the first time. The seat moved just a little, enough to grab his shoe.”
“He was stuck for maybe five to 10 seconds. Long enough for mom to catch on to what he was doing.”
When Kev Partridge found himself in the same situation, he took things a little further with a cup of water.
“The kid in the seat behind thought the touchscreen at the back of my headrest was a punch-screen, which wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences, especially on a flight from Asia to Europe,” he wrote.
“I got a small cup of water, with not too much content at all, awaited a good knock on my seat and then threw the contents of my cup upwards and backwards, before I leaned over and said ‘Ohh, I’m sorry, I’m just so easily startled when I fly’.
“Needless to say the slightly wet kid didn’t bother me again.”
Another passenger, Carmen Blakestad, told of how her husband took the “angry” approach on a flight – but found it worked.
“This little a-hole of a kid was sitting behind my husband, just pounding the hell out of his seat. Now, my husband is 6′4″, so he’s already uncomfortable, and then this happens?!
“What p****d him off the most was that the kid’s mom was sitting right there the whole time, knew full well what her brat was doing and did nothing to stop it!
“Anyway, mom gets up to use the bathroom and my husband saw his chance.
“He turned around and said to the kid with a seriously mean face and in a soft growly voice, ‘You kick my seat one more time, I’ll kill you.’
“The kid froze mid-kick, turned white as a ghost and sat quietly for the rest of the flight!”
However, we probably wouldn’t recommend that tactic.
Other passengers also tried similarly harsh tactics to deal with annoying seat-kickers.
Shaun Clark said he told one young passenger, “‘If you don’t stop kicking the back of my seat I will hit your father” – and needless to say, he stopped.
Michael Hawkins added, “The kicking began early in the trip, and it was apparent the child was bored to death.
“We both had aisle seats, so I got up and whispered in her ear, “If you kick my seat again I am going to have the pilot throw you out the door!” The remainder of the flight was kick-free.”
Dariusz Scharsig preferred a gentler approach – preparing a speech to give to both child and parent.
He explained: “All I needed to do was turn around and, nicely, say: ‘Hey, little fella, is this your first plane ride? Yeah, I get nervous too. You know what helps me? Just closing my eyes and trying to relax. Which is super hard if you kick my seat.’
“Usually, their parents get super embarrassed and the kid stops right there and then. No hard feelings.”
Others, like Brad Chisholm, chose to avoid confrontation altogether.
“I paid the guy behind me $50 to trade seats with me,” he wrote.
However, according to the experts, making threats isn’t the best idea.
Elizabeth O’Shea, who runs the website Parent 4 Success, told MailOnline Travel there was an easy to stop such behavior easily.
“If you are a passenger and the child kicking the seat is not yours, you definitely don’t want to antagonise the parent as that can make the situation worse,” she said.
“The best thing to do is go around to the row where they are sitting and get down low to the child and parent’s level and say in a really lovely and polite voice ‘hey buddy, could you do me a favour? Could you keep your legs under the seat? Do you think you could do that? Thank you’.
“It is very nice and polite and you are not being rude and by saying thank you, the child is more likely to comply.”
She also said it was important for parents to prepare their children in advance of a long flight.
“Parents should prepare them before the journey by talking about what behaviour will be acceptable once they are on the plane, such as using an indoor voice, keeping their feet on the floor or under the seat and talking about how long the journey will last.”