Flying in an airplane was once an experience reserved for the select few who could afford to travel via them. It was a luxurious, almost regal experience. I remember air travel as a little boy. During my summer vacation in the 1970’s, my father and I would travel from Philadelphia PA to San Antonio Texas on Eastern Airlines to visit family. I remember having to get dressed up, sometimes with a suit and tie before we flew. That was a sign of the times. Every passenger was fed breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on the flight. I also remember the smoking sections! Can you believe they actually allowed people to smoke onboard an aircraft? Back then flying was definitely an experience to remember. That has all changed. Nowadays, flying can feel more like being herded like cattle. Too many people cramped and jammed into those aluminum tubes. They fill em, they fly em, they land em, then they fill em again. The inside of an airplane can be a nasty environment because let’s face it, people can be nasty. In the haste of getting the plane back into the air, sometimes the cabin isn’t properly cleaned.
In 2015 I flew on 55 different airplanes. This year I look to better that number. The more I fly the more experienced I become. I know how to pack my bags, how to navigate airports, I know my place during the boarding process and how to help others who are not as experienced to find their way. I try hard to be courteous and respect the general “space” of passengers who are flying with me. You could say that I have developed a certain “etiquette” about air travel. If only everyone had proper flying “etiquette!”
Whenever I fly I undoubtedly see some new outrageous behavior by my fellow travelers. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, someone raises the bar on the GAIWF meter. That’s “gross and ignorant when flying.” In no significant order, here is a list of my top pet peeves by people when it comes to flying. I’m sure you’ll agree with me on some of these. Only by identifying these actions can we realize that we (yes you and me) are guilty of some of them and then we can personally work towards fixing them for a more pleasurable, comfortable and most importantly, respectful travel experience for all.
- The Stuffer. People who selfishly take up the overhead compartments with all of their stuff. The airlines clearly state that you are allowed 1 carry on bag and 1 personal item. Your carry on bag should fit in the overhead compartment while your personal item should fit under your seat. But do people follow the rules? Heck no. They will put all of their stuff including coats, hats, gift bags, extra food, whatever, in the overhead so that their seating area is clear and comfortable for them. Let’s not forget about the people who put their bag in the overhead compartment and close the door, even when there’s more available room for someone else’s bag. I once opened a closed overhead door (thinking that it was already full) only to find a woman’s purse inside. 1 lonely purse! Smh… Let’s remember that other people need to store their carry on bags just as much as you do.
- Aisle Blockers. People who rush out of their seats after the plane has reached the gate only to stand and block the aisles while the jetway is positioned. This really pisses me off when there are people onboard trying to make connecting flights. On numerous occasions I’ve watched passengers ignore the flight attendant’s requests to “please stay seated if this is your final destination so that those making tight connections can get off first.”
- The Seat Grabber. People who grab the back of your seat and use it as leverage when getting in and out of their seat. Seriously? I mean seriously, who enjoys having their seat unexpectedly rocked back & forth when you’re trying to chill. If you do this, STOP!
- The Seat Kicker. Whether an adult or a kid, this is an absolute no no. I used to give them 2, maybe 3 kicks before I spoke up. Kids can be the worst offenders because most often they’re bored and fidgety. Now I’m at the point where if there’s a kid sitting behind me I will introduce myself before the plane even takes off. I tell them if they don’t kick my seat or play around with the tray table, then I won’t recline my chair and invade their space. Or worse, bark at them. If it’s done tactfully, the parents actually welcome the interaction. It’s not that hard. It’s called communication and compromise.
- Campers. Middle or aisle seat passengers who fasten their seatbelt and pull out all of their gear before the window seat passenger has sat down. What sense does this make? Now you have to unbuckle your seatbelt and pick up your stuff to get up out of your seat to let me get to mine. Smh.
- The Vaper. People who smoke electronic cigarettes in the terminal gate area. I usually find these folks in the corner or with their back to the crowd. If I see you smoking an e cigarette I will rat you out every time! Unbelievable to think that people actually think this is acceptable. “Oh it’s just an e cigarette dude.” Well “I’m just telling on you dude!”
- Line Jumpers. People who try to board the aircraft prior to their group number being called. This is probably my biggest peeve. The gate agent announces “boarding first class only” and 50 people get in line trying to board. Are you that brain dead or you just don’t think the rules apply to you? The airlines have a boarding process. Here’s an idea, if you want to board the aircraft first, buy a first class ticket. If you don’t want to fly in first but still want to board early, the airlines have frequent flyer programs that come with early boarding perks. You can also pay a $10 surcharge for “priority boarding.” It will put you in group 1. Lastly there are major credit cards that if used to book your flight, will give you early boarding privileges.
- Foodies. People who bring food onboard and stink up the cabin. Please eat your pork yok and your garlicky noodles before you board the plane. I love to bring my own food, but not something that is going to funk up the cabin.
- The Offender. People with body odor. Word to the wise, please shower and wash your body properly before you fly. I’ve flown next to some rank individuals, including the guy sitting next to me as a write this. It does not make for a pleasurable flight experience. I remember being on a 14 hour flight and a woman was walking up the aisle to the bathroom. She smelled so bad that people in every row looked up as she went by. It was like a wave. The worst part was knowing that we would get another dose as she walked back to her seat. I felt bad for the person sitting next to her. Please wash your butt properly!
- Foot Resters. People who put their nasty dirty smelly feet up on the seats and bulkheads. Sometimes with shoes, sometimes without. I see this a lot. This is disgusting! Some of these people don’t do this at home, but they feel it’s ok to lose all decorum when flying. The bottom of your shoes are full of dirt and grime and all kinds of nasty things which are now deposited on the seats and walls. Have you ever seen the floor below the urinal in a men’s bathroom? That stuff is on the bottom of your shoes.
- Handi-Imposters. Able bodied people who sit in chairs reserved for the disabled. This really boils my blood. I see this a lot in the Charlotte NC airport. Do you feel so entitled that you can sit in seats designated for the disabled community or are you just faking the funk? I once saw a young woman get an attitude when she was asked to move and allow an elderly disabled person to sit. Really?
- The Germinator. Men who leave the bathroom stalls without washing their hands. (You know who you are!) I just shake my head when I see this. These are the same guys who will shake your hand and touch tray tables, air vents and seat belts onboard the aircraft without hesitation. Nasty! This is how germs and bacteria are spread. And people wonder how they got sick just by touching something.
- The Gasser. People who think they can silently pass gas in their seat, hoping that no one will know where it came from. 9 times out of 10 there is a log in the pipe line and your fart will smell. Realize this before you fly. Please empty your colon before you fly. I fly with Tums so I won’t have gas problems.
So as you can see I have a lot of beefs when it comes to flying. Please don’t think that I’m a grumpy passenger who is always on edge and looking to complain. It’s all funny to me. I’m a lot more chill in recent years and I’ve learned to stay in my lane when it comes to correcting people (for the most part!). I am not perfect nor am I better than my fellow travelers. It just frustrates me to see such slack behavior because I know what we human beings are capable of. When we know better we do better. And we are capable of so much better. Safe travels! ✈️