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I try my very best not to fly with low-cost carriers. I have no issue with the fact that they charge you extra for the air onboard, the fact you often have to walk the distance of a marathon course across a searing hot airfield to get to the aircraft or the fact that they frequently land nowhere near the city you thought you were heading for. That’s all part of their business model and I accept that.
I avoid low-cost carriers because a lot of passengers that low-cost carriers transport are of the type that should be forced to endure multiple “how to behave in public” courses before being allowed anywhere near an aircraft. These guys are not representative of the majority of low-cost travelers, but they are a significant percentage of that population, and although a minority, they do often a great job of making the innocent majority’s flights a misery.
Unfortunately, simply avoiding low-cost carriers isn’t really a foolproof solution to avoiding the type of passenger you pray you never have to share an aircraft with. The type of passenger who acts like all personal responsibilities are suspended the moment they step inside an aircraft isn’t limited to using low-cost carriers. Evolution – as painfully slow as it is in these people – has taught them how to search the internet for flights on all airlines, so they fly with legacy carriers too.
I don’t know whether it’s because on larger (twin-aisled) aircraft these types of passengers are more spread out or if there’s something else going on, but I definitely seem to encounter more of the type of passengers that I strive to avoid on short-haul leisure routes than I do on long-haul routes (of all varieties), and this makes me really dread the times where I know I have to fly a route to a “vacation hot-spot”.
Routes like Frankfurt to Zurich or LaGuardia to DC hold no fear for me. LAX to Cabo, any short-haul flight to Florida, and anywhere in the UK to anywhere in the Mediterranean all instill a deep-seated feeling of misery in my soul as my date of travel approaches.
Over the many years that I’ve been flying (more years than I care to count!), I’ve had so many bad experiences on short-haul leisure routes that from the moment I check in I genuinely start to dread what I may have to face onboard. If I was of a younger generation, I’d probably declare this to be a new phobia and then demand that the airlines offer me complimentary trauma therapy 🙂
What makes things worse is that I never know what to prepare myself for when flying on a short-haul leisure route. Sometimes things will be fine and I wonder why I bothered worrying and I question if I’m becoming a late-blooming snowflake. At other times, the flights can be anything from incredibly irritating to utter hell.
While some of the bad flights will be populated by passengers whose sole aim appears to be to see how monumentally drunk they can get in the time between boarding and landing, and who don’t think twice before engaging in loud and boorish behavior with their friends seated multiple rows away, other flights will be full of people whose offspring are feral (and who have absolutely no interest in controlling them), who think that the headrest of the seat ahead of them is a tool to be used to get in and out of their own seat, who think it’s appropriate to use their personal devices without headphones, and who seem to have absolutely no concept of other people’s personal space.
Both sets of passengers can be hateful, but both affect flights in very different ways – passengers in the first group are very openly obnoxious, while passengers in the second group can be much stealthier in the annoyance they inflict and, in a way, that makes them worse.
This may seem strange, but if I was ever (in a weird parallel universe) given the choice of flying in an aircraft with drunkards or flying in an aircraft with feral kids and personal space abusers (and those were the only options I was given and I had to choose one of them), I’d choose the flight with the drunkards.
The flying public doesn’t seem to mind if you bring the drunken antics of a passenger to the attention of an aircraft’s crew, and crews, when prompted, will often take measures to try to curtail the behavior of an obnoxious drunk.
For reasons I cannot fathom, however, there’s often a lot less support for someone who dares to point out that the three 4-year-olds that have insisted on running up and down the aircraft aisle like demented gazelles for the past 15 minutes should be tranquilized with a hippopotamus-grade sedative. It’s also hard to get flight crews to care about a passenger who refuses to stop watching videos without headphones or who refuses to stop using someone else’s seat as a climbing post every time they want to get up to talk to a friend (usually while also showing absolutely no regard for the passengers whom they inevitably have to lean over to talk to because their friend is in the window seat). The flight attendants usually have enough on their hands already.
As I type this, I realize that I’m probably sounding very, very, old, grumpy, and intolerant right now, but it also occurs to me that there’s no reason that this has to have anything to do with age.
There’s no reason to think that most other travelers (of all ages) aren’t monumentally annoyed by drunken, boorish behavior, there’s no reason not to think that everyone hates a seat kicker and a personal space abuser, and there’s no reason to think that all the parents that take an incredible amount of care to ensure that their children are kept quietly entertained and well behaved don’t also detest their counterparts who seem to divest themselves of all parental responsibilities from the moment they arrive at an airport.
So all of that leaves me with three questions:
- Does anyone else dread flying on short-haul leisure routes or is it just me?
- Do other frequent flyers find that the worst flights are on short-haul or can long-haul routes be just as bad and I’ve just been very, very lucky?
- Am I old and intolerant (wow, I’m really asking for abuse with this question!) or do flyers born after 1990 also notice and dislike the behavior traits I’ve described above?
I’m genuinely interested to hear the answers.