Flying: My Pet Peeves

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Even the most patient of people (of which I am definitely not one) have pet peeves and if you happen to do something that involves a lot of interaction with the general public (like traveling) you tend to build up a dossier of items that get under your skin and generally annoy the hell out of you. This is the tip of the iceberg that is my dossier.

I am a tremendously impatient person (it’s one of my many failings) and I deal with stupidity, thoughtlessness and incompetence very badly – I’d be terrible on a reality TV show – so you can probably imagine what I’m like when I’m traveling (which is when stupidity, thoughtlessness and incompetence abound).

I’m sure I do a great many things that annoy other people but, as they’re not writing this blog, I’m going to stick to a few of the things that get my blood pressure rising when I’m catching a flight. This is by no means an exhaustive list (I simply don’t have the time to type that many out!), it’s just four of the ones that stick in my mind….probably because I encountered each and every one during my last two flights.

The Passenger Unprepared For Airport Security

This person is the bane of every frequent flyer and you can spot them a mile away…they’re the ones wearing 20 different things that all take an age to remove but have to be taken off before they’re allowed through the airport security scanners.

They’re also the person deep in conversation with their traveling companion and paying absolutely no attention to what the airport security staff are saying. They then wonder why they’re pulled aside when their bag goes through the scanner with half of Macy’s cosmetics department in it.

Or the person who decides to wait until they get right up to the luggage scanner before they start rummaging around in their carry-on to find the toiletries, cosmetics, laptops and iPads that need to be placed into separate scanner trays…and they’re never anywhere convenient, they’re always buried under a sea of clothing.

On Friday I had one such person in the security line just ahead of me. Before she left home/her hotel her she had clearly sat down and thought to herself: “what are the most impractical things I can wear for an overseas trip?”.

She was wearing a ring on every single finger, she had metallic earrings dangling from both ears, around her neck she had a chain collection that Mr T would have envied and she was wearing knee-high lace up boots….with straps!

First she held up the line while she removed a lot of the jewellery. Next she tried to go through the scanner without removing her boots…and promptly caused a commotion when asked to remove them. Then she set the scanner alarm off with some jewellery that no one had noticed because it was hidden under her shirt. And finally she was pulled to one side because, while she had placed one clear bag of toiletries on the scanner belt, she had left a further 3 in her carry on.

The Speakerphone Talkers

This is one of those things that I will never, ever understand. Why do people talk on speakerphone when there are 40-50 people within earshot? Do they think we all want to listen in or is it something else?

I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve been seated in the lounge (usually trying to get some work done) when someone nearby has decided that everyone around him/her/them should be privy to their phone call. I’ve witnessed couples make ridiculous infantile noises at what I assume is a child at the other end of a FaceTime conversation (this has happened a lot and always seems to happen in the JFK Flagship Lounge), I’ve had to listen while a traveler explained to his wife/girlfriend which phone plan he had just signed up for (it was one of Verizon’s plans in case you were wondering) and I’ve been seated next to a lady who decided that she was going to have a loud argument, on speakerphone, in Spanish, with whatever poor soul was on the other end of the phone line (that was at one of the Miami Admiral’s Clubs).

Seriously, if you’re one of these people please (a) stop because it’s remarkably inconsiderate and (b) write in and let me know why you do it in the first place. I can’t think of a single reason why this may be a good idea so I’m truly interested to hear your reasoning.

Headphone Phobics

Headphone phobia must be a truly terrifying thing to suffer from because I can’t think of any other reason someone would play video clips/movies/music from the speakers of their handheld device when they’re surrounded by dozens or, if you’re on an airplane, hundreds of other people.

This is a similar ailment to whatever it is that people who insist on using speakerphone all the time must have and it’s just as annoying.

I was in the Galleries First lounge at Heathrow the other day and had what I assume was a Father/daughter pairing seated at the next table. About 5 minutes after they had sat down, the daughter decided that it was time for those seated around her to hear what she considers to be music (it really wasn’t music by the way…more a series of caterwauls with the occasional off-key warble).

Now, because I’m a coward, I decided to move seats rather than to do the right thing and ask the ignoramus to put her headphones on…but I did wonder why the man she was with (I’m assuming it was her Father) never said anything to her. That question was answered about half an hour later as I walked by their table to find that the girl was elsewhere but the man was now watching YouTube clips as loudly as his phone would let him!

Presumably people like these keep getting away with this sort of behaviour because cowards like me don’t say anything….but how is it possible that it never occurs to them that the rest of the world may not want to hear what they’re playing?

The Aisle Hogger During Boarding

How many times have you heard announcements from flight attendants asking people to get out of the aisles as soon as they can to allow passengers behind them to get to their seats? I must hear that announcement 50 to 60 times a year….but the number of people who are oblivious to that request is staggering.

Just to be clear, I’m not singling out those who, through no fault of their own, aren’t the fastest movers or who have trouble with their carry-ons…I’m singling out the self-absorbed egotists who appear oblivious to everyone around them and go about their routine as if no one else matters.

These are the people who get to their row, place their carry-on on the aisle seat, and then promptly spend the next 5 minutes hunting around in their luggage for whatever it is they think they’re going to need during the flight while a line of passengers builds up behind them.

If these people happen to be traveling with others, they’re also likely to decide that arrival at their row on the aircraft is a cue to begin a debate as to who should sit in which seat. It doesn’t matter that 20 people are standing behind them waiting to get past, this is a discussion that they seem to believe can only happen once they get to their row….figuring all this out before they get onboard is clearly too much of a mental challenge.

As you may have gathered I could carry on with this list for quite some time (loud talkers, parents who let their kids run wild and passengers who don’t say thank you when being served all annoy me intensely) but I’ll stop at those four pet peeves for the time being 🙂

So, am I the only “grumpy old man” out there or is anyone else going to put their head over the parapet and share their pet peeves (in relation to flying)?


  1. People who bring greasy vile smelling fast food onto planes – pizza, burgers, hotdogs – and then sit next to me. Eat it before you get on!

    • That’s a good one. I once had a family sitting next to me, on a flight from LA to Dallas, who had decided to bring most of the Taco Bell menu with them. Karma came into play when two of them ended up wearing their food as we hit turbulence 20 minutes after take off 🙂

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