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When I was brainstorming my list of annoyances, I came up with a long list of items. So I thought I’d break it up into several parts, with this post/video focusing on the top 13 things I hate about air travel. I’ll share my hotel pet peeves in another post.
Below are my top 13 airport and airplane annoyances and pet peeves:
1. Not getting TSA PreCheck (even though I have it):
If you have TSA PreCheck, you can imagine how annoying it is to get a boarding pass without the TSA PreCheck designation. Though TSA PreCheck is not a guaranteed benefit, even if you’re enrolled in the program. Also, this can be caused by many different things, including:
- Not registering your Trusted Travel number with the airline
- Failing to identify a mismatch between your ticket name and registered name in the program
- Forgetting to renew or update your enrollment (especially if you received a new passport or ID)
If you get a paper boarding pass, you can ask the gate agent to verify that your information is correct at the counter. However, if you notice it later or don’t have time to spare before your flight, you might have to proceed through the regular security line.
2. Being told that my check-in baggage is too heavy:
I generally prefer to avoid checking in a bag. However, there have been a few trips where we couldn’t fit everything in our carry-on bags. What’s extremely annoying is arriving at the airline counter and being told that your bag is a few pounds or kilograms above the limit.
For this situation, I recommend packing a spare and lightweight duffel bag. This allows you to transfer items out of your check-in luggage and become part of your carry-on.
3. Paying for expensive meals or snacks:
The prices at airports are often insane. I remember getting a tiny pizza and salad in the Maui airport for $40. I thought it was a mistake when paying the bill! To get around this issue, we usually try to find an airport lounge where we get some food and drinks. If you have a premium travel credit card, you often have access to airport lounges. The lounges (and their additional benefits) are a great way to save money while traveling.
4. Dealing with airport lines:
Have you ever been in a security or customs line that keeps adding more people in front of you? I experienced this when I was in Montreal heading back to Los Angeles. Since you go through US Customs and Immigration on the Canadian side, I ended up being in a line for over an hour. It probably would have only been a 20 minutes wait. However, the officials kept changing the line and adding people in front of us who had earlier departures. Though as a result, we ended up missing our flight since they kept altering the line.
If you find yourself in this situation, I would let the officials know that you’re at risk of missing your flight. In my situation, I mentioned it to them. However, I think they lost track of my flight time since there were others with more urgent departures. If I had to go through the experience again, I would have been more vocal about the time.
5. Dealing with bad attitudes:
When I missed my flight in Montreal, I had to speak to the Air Canada rep at the gate about getting onto another flight. I wasn’t the only person who missed their flight. There were a lot of people in line at the Air Canada counter complaining and being rude to the rep, even though it wasn’t her fault. I was the last person in the line and I was sure that there were likely no promising flight options for me. However, I made it a point to be nice and polite, and even said that I was sorry that other passengers were being so rude.
I don’t know if it helped, but the rep ended up getting me us on a flight a few hours later and even gave us breakfast vouchers for the food court. It was a nice gesture and was above and beyond what I expected. I want to believe it was because I was nice and empathetic, rather than rude and unforgiving.
I sent Air Canada an email and photo letting them know that their rep saved the day. The moral of the story is to keep your attitude in check. Taking out your frustration on others is not fair, and being nice and empathetic might result in a positive and unexpected outcome.
6. Fighting for overhead luggage space:
I hate this aspect of air travel! Most people will tell you that you need status in order to get priority boarding to secure overhead bin space. Since I’m not traveling for work anymore, I don’t have status with the airlines. However, I do have a low-level “priority boarding” through my Chase United Explorer Card. I’ll even pay the Earlybird check-in fee on Southwest so I can avoid the hassle of fighting for luggage bin space.
Even with these precautions, it’s possible to board the plane late, especially if you have a delay when connecting flights. If you find yourself in this situation, I recommend finding a seat toward the back part of the plane and looking for luggage space toward the front. The reason for this is because you don’t want to have the opposite situation. If you’re sitting up front, then you have to wait for everyone to clear before going to the back of the plane for your bag.
7. Having a messy or dirty airplane seat:
Plane seats can be gross. I’m sure many of you have opened your tray table only to find spilled food, liquids, or something worse. In this situation, I recommend carrying some hand wipes that you can use to clean your tray. I’ll even wipe down my headrest, especially if I’m traveling during the flu season.
8. Using old headphone ports:
The last time we flew internationally, we were surprised to find the old two-prong headphone jacks at our seats. This was annoying since I just got some new Bose noise-canceling earphones and wanted to use them while watching an airline movie. In this situation, the airline will often provide a free headset, though it’s often flimsy and low quality.
If you want to use your own headphones, you can either buy a cheap pack of adapters on Amazon. Also, I found that plugging in my earphones about three-quarters of the way into the jack allowed me to get stereo sound. It probably wasn’t the full stereo experience since it was likely splitting the left or right channel into two. However, it let me use my noise-canceling earphones, which was awesome!
9. Dealing with frozen entertainment systems:
This seems to happen a lot. I’ve noticed that there’s often a person near me that complains that their entertainment system is non-responsive. Fiona had this happen as well on one of our recent flights. If this happens to you, I recommend asking the flight attendant to reset the system.
As a back-up, I would also download some Netflix shows offline on your mobile device before leaving on your trip. This means that you’ll have content to watch while traveling. I love this feature on Netflix. It’s worth doing it even if you plan to watch the movies provided by the airline, just to be safe.
10. Being kicked in the back of your airline seat:
I’m sure most of you have been in a situation where a feisty kid is kicking your seat during the flight. I know it’s hard for parents to travel with their kids and I try to be understanding when it comes to crying babies. However, I struggle to be patient when a kid keeps kicking the back of my seat, especially when his or her parent is aware of the situation.
I don’t have a solution for this issue. I usually turn around so the kid and parent understand that I’m being bothered by it. That usually does the trick, but I’ve seen others ask parents to please keep their child from kicking their seat. It’s a touchy situation, but it’s definitely one of my biggest pet peeves on flights.
11. Preventing a crushed laptop from a reclining seat:
A few years ago, I saw someone’s laptop screen get crushed and destroyed on a flight. The seat came down quickly and the passenger’s screen was caught on the tray knob. This caused the laptop screen to crack instead of close.
I’ve had a few close calls as well, and it’s one of the most annoying things when you need to work on a plane. Unfortunately, I don’t know if there is a solution to this problem. I’m not one of those travelers who tries to prevent others from reclining their seat. Though I think it’s good etiquette to recline your seat slowly in case the person behind you is working on a laptop or has anything that may be damaged by the seat. Also, I tend to avoid extending the screen past 90 degrees to reduce the likelihood of being crushed. Since I’m using a 15-inch laptop now, I’ll often work off my lap instead of the seat tray if space is tight.
12. Paying for ridiculously slow internet:
This one is going to sound “high maintenance.” However, the last time I flew on Lufthansa, they were advertising in-flight wifi with speeds as fast as land-based hotspots. I was a bit skeptical, but I remember reading how airline wifi was being upgraded on many aircrafts. So I thought, why not? I wouldn’t mind catching up the latest season of “This is Us” and also getting some work done.
Sadly, the connection was slow and barely useable the whole flight. It couldn’t stream any videos, and I often got a blank loading page. Needless to say, I won’t be paying for any high-speed internet connections on flights in the future.
13. Dealing with impatient people when getting off the plane:
This is another situation that doesn’t have a solution but annoys me greatly. I can’t stand it when we are getting off the plane and people feel the need to push forward, even though we’re leaving row by row. I try to help people in my area by retrieving luggage from the bin when they’re struggling. My hope is that good karma prevails in this situation. My suggestion is to help those around you in need which helps make the unboarding process a little bit smoother and less stressful for everyone.
What are your biggest annoyances or pet peeves when traveling by air? Anything else you would add to the list?