The Most Annoying Things About Air Travel – A Nervous Flyer’s List

The Most Annoying Things About Air Travel - a Nervous Flyer's ListI recently flew an airline with “open seating.” Which basically means you get an assigned boarding number (like at a deli counter), and you must fend for yourself and your family from there.

As I walked the aisle, I quickly assessed my potential row-mates. Had they recently showered? Would they take initiative in an emergency? Are they so young that they’re in diapers? Are they so old that I may need to resuscitate them during the flight? These are important observations, and because there’s not enough time for a formal interview, they need to be assessed on the fly (pun intended).

When I finally picked my seat, the look on my new neighbor’s face was one of total disdain. What I wanted to say was, “Look at me lady, it could be worse — the woman behind me has a colicky infant and the guy behind her has something that sounds like the plague!” You did OK here.

As a nervous flyer, I’m easily annoyed about things that happen on planes (clearly). So I thought I’d “air” some of my grievances about flying.

  1. Flight attendants who are too calm. There’s turbulence that’s got me in “prayer mode” and you’re serving freakin’ coffee? If you’re so calm, how do I look to you to see if I should start worrying?
  2. Flight attendants who aren’t calm enough. I know you’re trained to keep your cards close. They tell you to seem unfazed, even if we’re heading for certain death. So, if I see the slightest bit of fear on your face, I may try to break down the cockpit door for more information.
  3. Airplanes with ashtrays. Hasn’t the “No Smoking” on planes rule been in effect for like 30 years? If I see an ashtray on an armrest, I know this plane is old as fuck, whether the seats are reupholstered or not.
  4. Air travel terms that remind me of death. Like “terminal,” “final destination,” “hangar,” “cockpit.” OK, not so much the last one, that just makes me giggle. “Cockpit.”
  5. Your child. I know it’s hypocritical of me. But let’s make a deal: I’ll stop my children from jamming their seat backs into you (and trust me, they’re bored, they want to) if you stop your child from kicking the back of my seat.
  6. Random noises. People who don’t like flying are also part-time flight mechanics (just ask us). We’re aware of every sound, buzz, hum, and jiggle, and we are constantly diagnosing what they could be indicative of. (Our diagnosis is never good.)
  7. People trying to chit-chat when I’m popping anti-anxiety pills. Please understand that I’m hopped up on a mix of Xanax and caffeine — I may talk your ear off, ignore you, nearly pass out, or try to hold your hand at any given time. Open that door at your own risk.
  8. Snack options. Don’t tease me with a good brand of snacks only to offer me the flavor they regret putting into production. I don’t need mesquite bacon-flavored, chocolate-covered terra chips. (No one does.)
  9. Mentioning when there’s a mechanical delay. It’s bad enough we’re stuck in the plane, don’t tell me you’re fixing something, de-icing something, or having a fuel issue or a weight problem, unless you want me to stand with the flight attendants by the drink station asking them to rock me gently.
  10. People who don’t turn off their electronics. I know, a phone probably won’t take down the plane, but if you’re not willing to follow simple rules, you’re a loose cannon and not to be trusted in an emergency exit row.
  11. People who make ironic or sarcastic plane crash references. You’ll be all nervous and gripping the seat so hard it may crumble when a friend/hubby/random traveler will say, “Relax, what’s the worst that could happen?” Remarks that refer to plane crashes are rarely funny, but you know when they’re NEVER funny? When you’re actually on a plane!
  12. The fact that I’m not flying the plane. (Which is probably the thing that annoys you the least.) But, I feel that if I had some control, I’d be more confident in our safe arrival. Like I could land that thing on sheer will to live.
  13. Have I mentioned “open seating”? Did we not all get enough of that stressful feeling waiting to be picked for dodgeball?
  14. Passing Gas. Just because we don’t hear you doesn’t make it OK. I have to live with the recirculating air for the remainder of the flight.  You could let one go in 32B and it’ll make it’s way to 14C.
  15. People who don’t sit with their children.  Your seats aren’t all together, and frankly, you’re sick of your kids too. But now is not your alone time with the hubs, split up people: one parent per kid/kids.
  16. Last, but far from least: the fact that planes have to leave the ground in the first place. Why can’t they just roll super fast on special highways rather than test the laws of physics by attempting to lift 300 tons of metal 35,000 feet into the air? PS- someone pointed out that they do have such an invention and it’s called a train. Whatever annoying pointer outers!!!

Well, any to add?

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22 thoughts on “The Most Annoying Things About Air Travel – A Nervous Flyer’s List

  1. Alison

    Hilarious. I’m lucky that flying is one thing that doesn’t trigger my anxiety, but I totally have pondered the ashtray thing, it it’s just freaky if you think too much about it.
    Alison recently posted…Generation GapsMy Profile

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  2. Soni

    Okay, that last one has me laughing my ass off, alone, in my house!!! I am with you on every single one of these. Two years ago, we were on a flight, the whole family. My son is a very nervous flyer as well, so of course we sit together and hold hands. About half way through the flight, when we were at “cruising altitude”, we flew into the jet stream of a plane about a mile ahead of us (we were told this much later). The plane dropped sideways. And I mean dropped. I thought for sure that was it, we were goners. What didn’t help? There was a flight attendant passing by our row who gripped the seats for dear life and had actual fear in her face. Then, when the captain finally came on to explain what happened, even he sounded rattled!! I try to stay calm, but I lost it completely. Now my son is even more afraid to fly, although we have done it, with no problems. I truly hope this never happens to you. Xanax is a gift from the Gods.

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  3. PinotNinja

    The random plane noises kill me! Just when I’ve settled into my xanax and wine haze and finally let go of my death grip on the arm rests, there’s a loud sound and bump. I am convinced that this sound is the engine falling off of the plane. I stop breathing, I grip the arm rests again, and I let out a pathetic whimper as I stare wide-eyed at the totally unconcerned flight attendant.

    Then my husband reminds me that it is just the landing gear retracting into the plane.

    This happens every time I fly.
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  4. Mom off meth

    I give you mad props for even flying. I took a train to Los Angeles from Minneapolis. THREE NIGHTS EACH WAY!! Now THAT is some crazy shit. And I had a kid with me.

    Every one of your points makes perfect sense to me. And now that I don’t drink…well…there is possibly no way I’m ever flying.

    I decided that once my kids are older and don’t need me, I can maybe get on a plane. It does suck to be afraid to fly.

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  5. Jennifer

    I read this aloud to my husband and he asks, “did you write that?” LOL
    Life’s cruel irony? He’s a pilot.

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