Air Travel Pet Peeves

Pet peeves are an often funny and certainly an unavoidable part of life. However, when traveling they can certainly be one of the most annoying things about your trip. Pet peeves related to air travel are probably the most common and I have seen them actually start fights on board planes and get people kicked off a plane before it starts. On my recent trip I experienced a wealth of annoyance from my pet peeves and thought it would be interesting to kind of list them and have you guys share some of yours. So here we go.

My single biggest pet peeve with air travel is when the person behind me asks me to put my seatback up to the upright position so he or she can eat or drink. This annoys me to no end. First, on smaller planes such as a 737 or something equivalent the seatbacks in coach go back maybe two inches-if that. There is no reason why this should impact your ability to properly lift up and put down your food or drink. On bigger planes, the seats go back further but there is more room so again it should not impair your ability to consume in relative comfort. Additionally, many times I will sleep through the meal or snack service and if I am awoken because some schmuck feels entitled to have another inch of room, I seriously want to throw him off the plane.

On my last flight from Istanbul back to New York, it was obviously a big plane. I was on the aisle and the guy behind me was a 20 something American guy just like me. The first meal was served and I was sleeping and he kept shaking my right arm to wake me up to move my seatback upright. I wanted to kill him but begrudgingly I did it so as to avoid a conflict. After politely waiting until he finished, I turned around to glance at him to make sure he was finished and noticed he was reclined with his eyes closed so I decided it was a fair time to move my seat back. He immediately popped up and asked me to wait until they cleared his tray. I said absolutely not and moved the seat back anyway with a wry smile and chuckle.

His girlfriend who was on the window then says to me that her boyfriend is being squished because he is six feet tall. I turn around and look at her and say tough luck for him, I’m 6’3″ and have been more than polite and patient with this fidgeting loser and if he wanted more room-he should’ve ponied up for business class. Nothing else was said until they served the last meal two hours before we arrived in New York.

He asked me again to move my seat up so he could thoroughly enjoy his crappy food and wiggle his lengthy limbs. I refused and turned back to him to give examples of other seats that were fully back and the people in the seats behind them having ample and comfortable space to eat, drink and maneuver about, including me. The guy in front of me was fully back, I am tall but would never ask him to move up because I hate when people do that to me. I think the guy was taken aback by my refusal and he ate with disdain. I though it was funny and was very pleased with myself as I usually give in but this time I just couldn’t deal with it and I hadn’t slept in 36 hours.

I have several other pet peeves as well about air travel:

1. Putting your seat back in the upright position for landing….why?!?!?!?! It doesn’t matter!

2. The no liquids and taking off your shoes security procedures at airports. If I offer to drink the liquid in my hands, it’s probably not a bomb so I shouldn’t be forced to throw it out. Additionally, they shouldn’t sell drinks at the airport before security if that’s the case-it’s so annoying!

3. Legroom in coach. Really, how small can you possibly make the seats.

4. Screaming babies…self explanatory but there is no avoiding this travel foothole.

5. Rude flight attendants…seemingly only on American carriers

6. People bringing on carry ons that are clearly too big for the overhead compartment and trying to shove them in and squish other peoples stuff…this drives me nuts watching them struggle.

7. People on the inside who go to the bathroom more than twice. You’re allowed two runs if it’s a long haul flight but that’s it!

8. The stupid emergency landing or water landing procedures in the beginning of the flight…does it really matter-we’ll all be dead.

9. When I’m sitting at the emergency exit row seat and the flight attendant gives you the detailed rundown and asks if you’re physically able and fit to open the door. Do I look handicapped or retarded???

10. Instructions on how to use the seat belt. Really…

I am sure most of you can relate to these and there are certainly many more. Send me yours.

BTW-I edited my country list page to reflect which places I have been to as many people had asked me about. I am working on getting a map as well. Check it out if you like.

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  1. Great post today. I agree with most of those and would add when the flight attendants fills your soda cup up from the can but its all foam,hands it to you and before you take a sip-the cup is half empty and she won’t give you the can. I hate that.

  2. I hate when I am sitting next to some guy who won’t shut up and tries to talk to me the whole flight.

  3. When the person sitting next to you stupidly decided against bringing any inflight entertainment and will attempt to either read or watch your DVD player over your shoulder. I even had one person with enough nerve to ask if I had extra headphones so they could watch my movie too.

  4. Samantha says

    I hate people who get loud and drunk on planes.

  5. Just the poor quality of the food if they even still give it to you. Great list today and I really enjoyed reading your trip blog..

  6. It drives me crazy when I see little children in first or business class and I am a 41 year old stuck in coach.

  7. I hate when seats do not recline or are broken or when I get the bulkhead seat. I also agree with Baumer and hate when people look at my DVD player much like I hate when people read magazines over my shoulder anywhere not just on planes.

  8. I have to say it-I hate being stuck next to massive fat people oozing over the seat onto me and my space. This recently happened to me and I was miserable. I believe they are supposed to pay for 2 seats but this man certainly didn’t.

  9. Great stuff but nobody has mentioned the all time worst thing about air travel. It’s the battle for elbow superiority on the armrest between two people. It’s like playing battleship and I have had bad verbal fights come about about because I am intent on establishing my elbow as the dominant armrest elbow.

  10. Jennifer says

    When people do not flush the toilet in the plane or leave garbage in the bathroom. We all have to share and use the same thing so please have some courtesy.

  11. I do Sudoku on planes. Often times people will stare at what I am doing or ask me about it because apparently Sudoku is still a new phenomenon. It is so annoying and I just want to elbow their faces! I am getting air rage just thinking about it!

  12. I hate when people ask me to borrow pens as I am doing Sudoku, a crossword puzzle or filling out my entry form. Just bring your own or wait until you get there! This is funny because I too am getting annoyed just thinking about how annoying that is.

  13. Great point Kenny, this is an awesome topic. Lee, I think we could go on forever about this (and we probably have)… almost as bad as sitting next to the obese person is the person with no personal hygiene that smells of horrific body odor

  14. Jamie Kaplan says

    My single biggest pet peeve is when the flight is delayed but they make you board the plane and then it sits on the tarmac for hours on end.

    I understand that planes can get delayed but let the passengers wait in the terminal so they can move around freely. This is one of the most egregious injustices done against mankind. It is cruel and unusual punishment and I hold airlines completely responsible.

  15. This is a great response to this topic and I can agree with each pet peeve. However, Jamie, I have to say that you make an amazing point about waiting on the tarmac. I have waited on the tarmac for 3-4 hours many times before. It is the absolute worst.

    My friend Jake and I had this happen to us a few years ago in Miami and some guy went completely nuts and started screaming and ripping the seat apart-literally. He was starting fights with other people, swearing like crazy and he was with his 2 young kids.

    I had never seen a meltdown quite like it before. I was miserable too, and even though there is no excuse for that guy who was arrested I believe, I am still mad at American Airlines for making us wait out there for four hours-among many other instances.

  16. If you travel often then the annoying monotony of air travel will eventually break you down and you will act like a different person when you are on a plane than you normally would.

    Since you are a disgruntled captive audience with very few freedoms, you start to latch onto smaller things that you normally wouldn’t care about such as legroom, elbow room, food allowances and the hygiene or bodily functions of others.

    If you think about it, it’s really fascinating and can make for a great psychological and anthropological study in human behavior.

  17. These are great pet peeves and I agree with many of them but one of my biggest is when on long flights, people who are just up stretching or walking around put their hands all over your headrest to support themselves. Not only do they get their germs all over your headrest but they push it back as well. It is gross and annoying.

  18. People who are sick and coughing next to me-enough said.

  19. Benjamin says

    I hate when I get upgraded to biz class and someone from economy comes through the curtain to use the biz class bathroom! Use your own bathroom in the cattle car, LOL!

  20. Sitting next to the bathroom and getting major whiffs of everything. Even worse you watch people go in and out and you think to yourself what are they doing inside, 1 or 2.

  21. People who get up when the seatbelt sign is on during flight turbulence and then act shocked when they get yelled at-like they didn’t realize they weren’t supposed to be up.

  22. People who take forever to decide what they want to drink and delaying everyone else getting theirs…there are only a few options-just decide

  23. I hate the fact that I was not on the plane with Gerard Finneran

  24. My biggest issue is with check-in before you board and how long it takes. They should have more people checking people in so we dont have to waste two hours of our time at the airport. They only do it so we go shopping and eat at the airport-it’s really annoying.

  25. Funny post… I once sat next to a woman who informed me that she was terrified to fly and that she was sitting separately from her husband and kids as not to scare them.. So the entire flight every time we hit turburlance- she actually kept grabbing onto and clawing at me! I mean seriously lady- don’t grab the person next to you!!

  26. i hate it when…the stewardess wakes me up to ask if i want food. if i dont want it, i am now awake and am so pissed off i cant fall back asleep or if i can it takes a while. why not just make a decision for me on the food and put it there while i am sleeping. this last time the stewardess (or gay man) woke me up and asked me to keep my foot out of the isle which was a total lie because it was under the seat in front of me (as i made note of it before i went to sleep so i wouldnt be in anyones way) he just used it as a lie and excuse to wake me up and ask me to move my foot and what snack i wanted. i wanted to rip his throat out because i hate when people wake me up and i can be nasty when that happens. i wanted to trip that (*&(*(*72 the next time he walked by i was so agitated. babies and small dogs are annoying when they are noisy. also…why the heck do we have to pay $2 to skycap to check my baggage??? it used to be free and we would tip. now its $2 and they want a tip and can only be one bag not two…WTF

  27. Lee- #9 You really don’t want an answer to that question do you?

    As for the stupid wait on the plane its because then they can say they boarded you so you can’t get a refund, in europe if they don’t board you within four hours of the flight time you get a free flight which is why they board you and you sit there.

    My biggest pet peeve is babies (but shooting looks of death at the selfish parents who took them on the plane there is not much you can do about that)

    But the second biggest is the “sling shot”- when someone behind you is getting up and they pull back on your seat to do it or if your in the aisle someone walking by can do it- Do they not freaking realize I’m sitting there and when they let go its going to shoot forward and wake me up!!!!

    also don’t forget these stupid laws that keep airlines from only hiring hot stewardesses.

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