Traveling by air used to be an adventure and a pleasure when I was in my early twenties. Everything just seemed so laid back, relaxing and fun.
Flying being fun is no longer the case unfortunately as it is fraught with frustrations and annoyances. Although I cannot say that I hate flying, there are certainly things about traveling by air that I hate, or at the very least that I find very annoying.
Fortunately there are still good reasons to travel by plane though but there are of course some disadvantages of traveling by plane too. These are the things I hate about traveling by air these days:
- 1 At the airport
- 2 On Board
At the airport
1. Airport Security
Airport security is head and shoulders above everything else as my number one of the things I hate about traveling by air. Now I know that “it is a sign of the times”, “it is there to protect us” etc etc blah, blah, blah. But most of it is over the top in my opinion and just causes massive hold-ups, stress and misery.
I was traveling to Spain recently and it was a very early flight. I left home stupidly early and arrived at the airport more than 2 hours before the flight. This was deliberate so I could get into the departure lounge and have a good breakfast and coffee before the flight started boarding – and boy I needed some coffee as I hate getting up early!
Did my plan work? Absolutely not! When I arrived at airport security I couldn’t even get near the door into the security area because there were so many people also trying to get in. It took almost 15 minutes just to get through the door. Then I did the usual up and down, back and forth, like waiting in line at Disneyland to get on a ride, and an hour later I finally reached the conveyor belt for the X-ray machine.
I took all the electrical items out of my carry on, took off my belt and my shoes and eventually went through. But my carry on bag was pulled aside for a random “explosives swab” or some such nonsense. That took another 10 minutes and finally I was through.
But by then it was too late to even have a coffee! So after we finally boarded, took off and the trolley came around it was yet another hour later before I had what the airline described as “coffee” and a tasteless sandwich for breakfast.
2. Did you pack your own bag?
Every time I am asked this question at check-in it makes me want to throw something heavy at the person asking it.
What an utterly ridiculous question!
If you didn’t pack your own bag, are you really going to be stupid enough to answer “no” as you know that will be the start of big problems and delays for you.
Everyone answers “yes” so why ask it? The check-in agents must get utterly sick of asking the question and are perhaps longing for someone to actually say no.
3. Flight delays
Now I know that things happen and it isn’t always possible to to make every flight leave on time. When you have a delay it is annoying, particularly if you will then miss a connecting flight. But that isn’t the annoying bit so much for me.
What annoys me most the stupid excuses they try to fib you off with. Actually they are not excuses at all but just a way of stating the obvious in a way that makes it seem like a credible excuse. For example – “We apologize for the delay but it is due to the late arrival of the incoming aircraft.” Well yes, that may be why we will be departing late but it isn’t an excuse! Why was the incoming flight late? Was that because the previous flight was also late?
4. Inconsiderate people
Travelators (moving walkways) are a great way of speeding up the movement of passengers around a terminal.
What really gets annoying is when some inconsiderate person gets on one and then stands in the middle, with their carry on bag next to them, preventing anyone from getting past.
It is just amazing how inconsiderate some people are and even more amazing that so many are just blind to the problems they cause.
They probably don’t do it deliberately, they just don’t think.
5. Passengers who take forever to get settled
I can’t tell you how many flights I have been on that have become delayed as they have lost their ATC slot due to passengers taking so long to get onboard, baggage stowed and settled in their seats. They stand in the aisle, holding everyone up, while they fumble around taking off their coats and opening up their carry on bag to get their book, glasses,
Also, when I get on board I know what my seat number is and I have the ability to count, as do most people. If my seat number is 27F for example, then I don’t need to look at every row of seats as I walk down the aisle from the front in order to see which is my row. Why is it that some, who can also presumably count, almost seem surprised that the row that comes after row 12 is row 13 and so on?
6. Last minute parents
Families who get on last with three kids and expect to sit together really wind me up. On flights where pre-assigned seating isn’t available, I have seen so many examples of this. A family get on board right at the last minute, with two or three children, and then complain to the cabin crew that there aren’t seats available where they can all sit together. They stand around complaining loudly and insist that their children have to sit by them.
The cabin crew often have to ask other passengers if they will move in order to create seats together. I always get annoyed when this happens as they should either be forced to take the seats available or be told to get off. On more than one occasion the flight I have been on has been delayed for this reason.
7. Lack of leg room
This isn’t a complaint that everyone might have but at 6ft 2in tall, with particularly long legs, it is definitely something that any tall person will relate to. Sitting for hours on end, normally bolt upright, as that is the only way my legs will fit in the space between my seat back and the seat in front, is not fun.
You may like to read my article – Best gadgets to make flying more comfortable in 2019
8. Aircraft toilets
I have two complaints about aircraft toilets. The first is that they are just too small. At 6ft 2in tall just standing up in one, with the sloping aircraft side, is pretty difficult, let alone actually trying to do something. The second is that they are often so dirty. I try to avoid using them but on a long flight this isn’t always possible.
When I was in my twenties I made quite a few transatlantic trips with friends. Although my friends visited the restrooms numerous times I didn’t need to visit them once. This earned me the nickname “Super Bladder”.
I particularly hate using one after a child comes out as more often than not the toilet seat is wet and it hasn’t been flushed. Little girls are often the worse culprits.
Not all children are annoying of course, I have flown sitting by some very well behaved kids, but there are certainly some that are – mostly the fault of the parents.
- Babies that hardly stop crying for the entire flight. It is not their fault, nor their parents generally, but on a long flight it can be very draining, even if they aren’t sitting right by you. Thank goodness for my Paww WaveSound noise cancelling headphones!
- Young kids that sit behind you and constantly kick the back of your chair, usually right in the small of your back.
- Kids in the seat in front that spend half the flight standing up looking over their seat at you – dribbling, sneezing and worse.
- And let’s not forget the wonderful parents who sit there with their headphones on watching something on tv while their little darlings run up and down the aisle causing havoc. As long as they aren’t being annoying by them then that is all that matters to them.
I often choose to sit in aisle seats as it gives me the opportunity to stretch my legs a bit, as they are usually crammed into a space that would be considered inhumane for a dog (who must be able to turn around when flying in a dog crate in the hold).
Although most fellow passengers are generally considerate there are exceptions. Like the person sitting by the window who can’t seem to sit for more than 5 minutes without needing to get up to go to the toilet or to get something out of the overhead locker. This means every time I get settled and start watching something I have to stop and get up to let them out.
11. Seat recliners
Perhaps I am just unlucky but quite often I seem to find myself sitting in a seat behind someone who insists on reclining their seat fully immediately after take off and for the duration of the flight. That makes me even more cramped than I am normally.
One memorable time was when I was on a 2 hour Iberia flight from Madrid to London a few years ago. I was in the last row of the aircraft, so my seat wouldn’t recline as the bulkhead was directly behind. As soon as we took off the Spanish guy in front of me reclined his seat fully. This meant his head was almost in my lap.
Despite my sighs etc he took no notice. About half an hour after take-off he put his seat back up and went to the restroom. I saw him coming back and got myself ready for my revenge. I pulled my knee back and as he sat down and started to recline his seat again I rammed my knee into the small of his back as hard as I could. He gave a grunting noise that confirmed I had struck my target and he put his seat up to half way for the rest of the flight.
12. Airline food
Although there are a few airlines that make an effort to make the food they serve edible that isn’t true of many airlines.
I have been served food on aircraft that, frankly, I would be reluctant to give to a starving stray dog!
Wherever possible I try to eat at a restaurant/cafe in the departure lounge before boarding but sometimes that isn’t always possible or may be just so early or late that I don’t want to eat.
When on a very long flight there is little choice but to eat, or attempt to eat, what is put in front of you though, unless you take some food on board with you
13. Jet lag
Jet lag is not nice. I have found a number of ways that work for me to minimize it but when flying across many time zones, for example, from Australia to the UK, it still happens. Trying to be awake when your body says it is time to sleep and then trying to sleep when your body says it is time to be awake is never fun.
These are the things I do to try and reduce its effects – How to prevent jet lag – my top tips that actually work
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I have been traveling around the world by air since the early 70s and living overseas too. I worked for British Airways for a number of years and I am also a private pilot.