Top 10 air travel pet peeves

Frequent fliers have to sometimes deal with awful situations on their journeys. From seemingly inexplicable flight delays to lost luggage – there are those days when the little bottle of airplane vodka is just too little. While I’ve had the distinct displeasure of experiencing these woes; even being served an inedible mush in tin foil doesn’t come close to the following pet peeves: Airport 1. Gate attendants not enforcing priority boarding It frustrates me when airline officials fail to follow their own boarding principles. After I’ve waited for them to wheel in the passengers requiring special assistance, then the numerous passengers with small children (and even that one family that assume their 8 year old qualifies as a toddler!), I expect that priority boarding rules be enforced. What good is it to stick a bright red sign on my boarding pass that screams “PRIORITY” (yes, I’m talking to you: Air France officials at CDG), if you’re going to make me queue in the same line as those passengers in row 27!? 2. Blocking the aisles when the plane is boarding I loathe those people that leisurely walk into the cabin and spend quality time in the aisle; hunched over their backpacks, deciding which book they may want to read during the flight. Then there are those that take a full 5 minutes to fold their jacket or coat just so, before placing it delicately in the overhead bin. During this time, the boarding is halted, whilst the ever-so polite woman standing behind the offender just shrugs and says nothing. Perhaps I despise her more than the actual offender. 3. Airlines charging for checked-in bags Ok, so I’ve paid a few hundred euros for a plane ticket; now I have to pay what? 45 euros to check a bag? Either add the cost to the actual price of the ticket, or don’t charge it at all. 4. Putting your carry-on luggage in an overhead bin that’s rows ahead of where you’re actually seated Whilst I admire your efficiency Einstein; did you ever stop to think about where the luggage of those actually seated in the row beneath that bin, will go? Everyone’s time is wasted when the poor man sitting in the second row spends several minutes searching for a space to plonk his bag. Worse so when he’s forced to stash it in a cabin several rows behind him, causing chaos during disembarkation. 5. Noisy passengers Whether you’re the boor who’s having an animated conversation with the person across the aisle from you, or the infuriating teenager playing music on your phone without headphones, please try to have some common courtesy on your next flight. I’m not a big fan of Tupac anyway. 6. People standing up by pulling on the backrest of the seat in front It’s not a defiance of gravity to stand up without touching the seat in front of you. Apart from annoying the person sitting in that seat, it’s incredibly rude! We understand that airplane space is very limited, so why not try practicing at home before you even set foot on a plane again? 7. Tapping too hard on the touch screen It’s a touch screen, not a thump screen. Enough said. 8. Reclining a seat on a short haul flight I personally feel that airlines should have the option of disabling the recline function of seatbacks for short haul flights. Not only does it create a domino effect, it usually means people are struggling to eat their quick meal with a backrest in their face. No one needs to nap on a flight less than 2 hours. 9. Annoying kids parents Sitting next to, or even near, a screaming baby is no fun when trapped in a metal tube, thousands of feet in the air; but unless the parents are completely ignoring said screaming baby, the situation probably can’t be helped. Babies will, after all, cry; and as such I try to be empathetic. On the other hand, parents that allow their children to kick the back of seats, fidget incessantly with the tray tables, run wild in the aisle or play with toys that make any sort of noise – should be sent to airplane jail. Seriously, there should really be such a thing! 10. Standing up when the plane hasn’t yet come to a complete stop Yes, you’re a very important businessman who’s late for a very important meeting. That won’t make the doors open any faster, and it surely won’t make the people in front of you disembark any faster. Apart from it being dangerous to unbuckle your seatbelt and stand up whilst a plane is still taxiing, you’re just going to look like a fool if the steward reprimands you.

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  1. It is nice to know that business class is the same as cattle class.

    The man or woman pulling on the seat back to get up from their seat might be me who is disabled and cannot stand up without assistance.

    But also in cattle class the seat in front is so close, it means you cannot stand upright and are still leaning backwards when you stand up. Only an old Continential flight to USA had the luxury of space between back of seat and your knees.

    For the disabled, painfully bent knees lose all circulation and without getting up frequently (if we are the walking wounding) and holding on to all the seats to get about, we would get in your way even more later on.

    What is dangerous is the person in front putting their seat back before you have finished your coffee or still eating a hot meal. Putting the seat back is alright in business class seats, but should not be in cattle class (economy) as there is a tight fit enough as it is.

    It also makes it well nigh impossible for old and disabled to get out of their seat.

    But you have not lived until some little boy or girl thinks it so funny to kick the back of your seat. Which is real fun (sic) when your back is ruined by stooping over computers for a third of a century.

    There is an idea of having an on board creche. Emirates put babies facing a bulkhead and so could fix a cot for the baby to sleep with the least amount of disturbance. A grizzly baby is a tired baby.

    But would we pay a bit extra to be in seats away from children? If you have it, it might be worth you paying a bit more.

    If you pay to have a business class flight, you will get on after the special assistance passengers. You might even find some in business class.

    The families usually get on to cattle class.

    If you pay a bit extra you can book a VIP Lounge you will get priority boarding.

    As my life of flying the globe over a lifetime has come to a close, such tales of how kids act on planes would fill volumes. Its entertaining if you resign yourself to it. But the kicking kid gets my elbow back into its little feet through the seat, as well my heavy bulk shoved backwards. The little darling soon gives up.

  2. Hi Anastasia,

    What a great, detailed response! Thanks for that!
    I agree, about the dangers of reclining a seat when a hot meal is served! What about broken laptops as a result?

    One day, I’ll own a private jet ;)

  3. This is definitely a solid list, personally though I don’t know how you managed to limit yourself to only 10 choices! We absolutely adore travelling but if only there were some other efficient way to do so beside flying. It has to be one of the most frustrating experiences on the planet.

    Some of our own worst experiences include having a delayed stopover in Washington D.C. during a thunderstorm only to find that the geniuses handling our luggage decided to leave them out in the rain until our flight was ready to board (a 1 and 1/2 hour layover). This was particularly frustrating due to the fact that our luggage is made of red fabric which bled into the clothes held within, ruining some of our favourite white shirts. Secondly, it also had some books which were autographed by the author on that very trip which are now water damaged. A fun experience all around :S

    We’ve also had the joy of experiencing the unexpected luggage fees. Flying from Ottawa, Canada to Cape Town, South Africa, we began our trip with one airline which offered 2 pieces of checked luggage per passenger. Not being a couple who likes to overextend ourselves, we only brought three. Our flight back involved a different airline who, of course, had a different policy, 1 piece each. Unfortunately, we had packed all our South African wine in our smaller baggage, which we were now forced to bring as carry-on. We obviously didn’t realize this until the security check, and thus we had to forfeit all that delicious South African wine :S

    Finally, I do have two additional pet peeves to add to you excellent list:

    -The Conversationalist: I am not an anti-social person and I am up for the occasional conversation with a stranger on a plane, but these experiences can lead to some frustrations. On a 6+ hour flight, I may not wish to talk to the person next to me the entire time. I don’t want to come across rude should I choose to watch a movie on my iPad rather than talk to a stranger about their kids. Some people just don’t get the point sometimes and that can be very irritating.

    -Abundance of Security: Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for security at the airport, but sometimes (all the time), I feel that it has gone overboard. From scanners that basically show a detailed 3D picture of my naked body, to being forced to throw out the bottle of coke I just bought prior to the security check because it it’s over 100mL. There’s a difference between feeling safe when travelling and being treated like a terrorist-in-waiting and sometimes I think different airports lean far to close to the latter rather than the former.

    Even with these frustrations, I wouldn’t trade travelling the world for anything and I guess this stuff is a small price to pay for the wonderful memories we have built up over the course of journeys.

  4. Ever watched luggage handlers? Packing is an art. The invention of plastic bags to wrap around over and under contents of suitcase is wonderful.

    Cloth suitcases that cannot take seriously rough handling and being rained on for hours, are a complete waste of money.

    Breakable items need to be wrapped in clothes and put into the centre of the contents of clothes. This takes the stress of the sheer skill of slinging suitcases the immense distances these strong men manage.

    But you have not lived until you watch an old man left to sling out cases from a small plane, without even a short step ladder, and the poor guy fall onto the tarmac whilst the cases stay in the plane. All the boss did was say Work Harder.

    The four wheel suitcase is also a great invention to save wrenched backs and twisted wrists. Also great for propping up cabin bags instead of the stress on your back and shoulders.

    One of the greatest boons once rid of your luggage, is the short massage in the back to front chairs with a face cut out that puts your head and shoulders in the best alignment. One of the best is Acupressure Massage by the actual original Chinese who are amongst the most ancient civilisation that invented it.

    And how to get rid of the conversationalist? Get up for a short walk to save your swollen ankles. Then on return immediately settle into a short nap.

    One day airports shops and security and airlines will all sing off the same hymn sheet, because airports are not sustainable without shop rentals.

    Ryanair will not allow the extra plastic shopping bag from airport shops, without a huge bill.

    No airline can charge you extra for one hold suitcase, so any liquids are best packed into the centre of all your clothing nicely wrapped all round to take the stress of being slung into orbit. Onto the luggage vehicle and onto the plane and off the plane and off the luggage vehicle. As long as each bottle is wrapped separately so glass does not hit glass.

    From what I see as us cattle class pass through business class seats, they seem to have double the amount of seat as us poor cattle class, squashed into every decreasing width. As society is getting broader (the poorer you are the more likely you eat rubbish food as that is the cheapest so get broad in the beam, as they say) for cattle class, something will have to change.

    But of any airline I have flown, Emirates came out best. Just for one thing. Flights are boring. But the amount of entertainment and the efficient delivery of food kept you occupied. The only bugbear was the whole plane deplaneing in Singapore when we were picking up and most were staying on the flight. This was especially bad for tired kids.

    And of various airports, Manchester is the most confusing to find you way around with the most confusing signage.

    But there we are. Flying each year. When there is so much close to home, for a chill out break without all the hassle. The Staycation. But then how are you going to impress the boss?

  5. Hi Mike! I am in shock about your wet luggage story! I hope its an experience you never have to live through twice!

    As for the security, a necessary evil, as you mention.

  6. I’m with Mike on The Conversationalist. But I’ll add to his by adding The NOSY Conversationalist. I fly extensively for my 2nd company and spend a lot of time cramped into those little regional jets where 14 inches is the new 18 inches (you know what I mean) which makes my once close neighbor even closer. Had one who before we took off kept asking who I was texting and was more or less bothersome (even after doing the fake nap thing) the entire two hour flight. Woohoo to me.

    Anyway… great list!

  7. Agree with all points.
    With regards to pulling the backrest of the seat in front – a simple ”sorry” will do but sadly many forget about it.

    I would add as well the lack of information at many duty frees that when boarding an intercontinental flight via one of the EU cities you won’t be allowed to keep all of the over 100ml goodies you bought, even when nicely sealed by the kind shopkeeper.Heppened to me when flying from Bogota to London via Madrid – utterly frustrating.

    Drunk (and those tipsy and overly joyful) passengers are also annoying. And the worst combination is a drunk conversationalist…

  8. In regards to #3, why bother paying to check a bag??? Join the rest of the travelers who pack gigantic bags that they wheel to the gate knowing that they’ll just check it at the gate for free!! Why doesn’t the airline charge these people???? If it won’t fit above, you get charged – period.

  9. Oh yes, so feel your pain on all but the frustration of airlines not following their own rules has to take the cake when the travelling public is forced to follow so many rules. Sigh.

  10. Hi there,

    I agree with all of these. When I am on a flight there is nothing that annoys me more than all of the above!

    I cannot get over your luggage being left out in the rain Mike that is absolutely shocking customer service. I for one would have not stood for it as it would have ruined any holiday or business trip etc.
    I may have a different opinion where it comes to clients putting their seats back. I have pondered about this for many years and I feel if they would just ask your permission or let you know they are going to do it.

    ‘Excuse me, would you mind if I put my chair back?’

    If done, this then allows you to respond and situations like drinks going everywhere etc. can be avoided. It is something called courtesy and politeness.

    If the answer is no, it does not mean you do it anyway. Being a tall fella the seat digs into my kness. I would not mind if they asked and you and the person in front agreed how long they would be doing this for.

    Security is just as extreme cargo side of the airport, probably even worse. If only it were as easy as standing in a 3D scanner. Sadly it is not! Many people argue that it is totally different. However, whether it be hand luggage in the cabin or luggage or personal effects in the plane’s cargo facility it all gets scanned, but there is not as much paperwork and customs clearance involved. So just you think yourself lucky! :)

    Best Regards,


  11. Yes. Your correct on each one. It is so annoying. When your traveling by plane you have to be really mindful of the people around you. And learn from experience.

    My peeve would be when some teenager behind keeps kneeing the seat. Drives me mad.

    And a few years back, when I had my seat booked, I wouldn’t queue but wait until the very end. Save my legs. However, there was no room from my carry on bag above where I was sitting. And it went all the way down to the back of the plane. So I had to wait and wait until nearly everyone else gets off. Now I queue. :-)

  12. Numbers 4-9 are the real winners with pulling yourself up by the seatback, thumping the screen and parents indifferent to crying babies at the top.

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