A Nervous Flier's List of the Most Annoying Things About Air Travel

I 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?

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!"

As a nervous flier, I'm easily annoyed about things that happen on planes (clearly). So I thought I'd "air" some of my grievances about flying.

  • 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?
  • Flight attendants who aren't too calm. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Have I mentioned "open seating"? Did we not all get enough of that stressful feeling waiting to be picked for dodgeball?
  • 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?

What are your pet peeves about flying?

Image via Bradleygee/Flickr

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