Travelling is awesome. You get to experience new food, cultures, and ways of life. It makes you a better person, and less of a douche in your everyday life.
But travelling long distances can have one major drawback, and if you have enough bad experiences with it, you may think twice about ever leaving your home country again.
What is that major drawback? Air travel.
Here’s my list of why air travel just plain sucks sometimes.
1. Fear: As a lover of travel and exploring far off places, a fear of flying is an ironic twist that is nothing less than a cruel joke of the Universe. Just the thought of filing into that metal sausage with wings gives me an anxiety attack. Takeoffs and landings, weird noises, and turbulence can put a nervous flyer over the edge. Luckily there’s medication you can take. I’m sure you can do yoga breathing or some shit like that, but the drugs make everything better faster. The alternative is constantly imagining the plane falling from the sky in a blaze of Hell fire. Fun.
2. Security: Nothing causes people stress more than going through airport security. You trying to follow all the rules, but it’s impossible to get them right because every airport seems to have their own interpretation. Take off your shoes or leave them on? Oh God do I have change in my pocket? Are all my liquids in a clear plastic bag and regulation size? And FYI, you are not allowed to bring your nail clippers on board, but a cigarette lighter is perfectly fine. Then comes the choice between the full body scan or the pat down. Thankfully I’m not “randomly selected” too often, but I know others who aren’t so lucky. No wonder you’re supposed to check-in for your flight 2 hours before boarding.
3. Children: I get it, you love your kids. But when I see you coming towards me with two screaming, writhing bodies, you better believe I’m hoping you don’t sit next to me. I know you can’t help it if your kid’s a screamer, and I feel bad for them if they’re scared, having ear issues, or puking their guts out like a Dothraki crossing the Narrow Sea. What gets me is the people who let their kids kick the chairs, run up and down the aisles, and generally be little assholes. If you can’t do anything to stop it, then at least acknowledge the fact that it’s happening and you’re disrupting the ten rows of people around you. Ignoring the problem just makes people hate you.
4. Other Passengers: Most of the people you meet on airlines are awesome. They respect personal space, are friendly, and understand social cues. There are others however, who are just a-holes. They can’t get it through their heads that this is not their own personal flying machine. Being rude to flight attendants, not using headphones (nobody cares about your personal record on Candy Crush), and airing out stinky feet are all examples of poor airplane etiquette. Showering is also a requirement. Or at least put on some deodorant if you have to sink shower in the airport bathroom. When you and your neighbour are closer together than a human centipede, a little personal hygiene is appreciated.
5. Airplane Seats: I’m pretty sure airplane seats were an invention of Henry VIII as a torture device for his last wife. Where else are people willingly packed in like sardines, praying the person in front of them doesn’t lean their seat back, subsequently crushing both their knee caps? After getting buckled in your seat and discovering you forgot to take off your jacket, you have to somehow remove it without punching the face of the person sitting next to you. Have to go to the bathroom? Hope you’re a gold-medal gymnast because you will now be contorting your body across the seats to get to the aisle, and subsequently pissing off that person you punched in the face earlier. Good luck.
6. Fees: Want to put a bag in the giant cargo hold of an airplane? You gotta pay. Want to nourish your body with something other than 10 mini pretzels or a few corn nuts? You have to pay more. Want a seat that will make you less likely to get kicked onto the standby list when the airline overbooks you? Well, you definitely have to pay for that and it still won’t guarantee you a spot. In Canada, it seems airfare is more expensive than every other country in the world, and the extra fees can seem outrageous. When a flight within my own country costs more than a flight to Europe, I have to think we’re all getting screwed around somewhere.
7. Airlines: One of the worst things about air travel is the actual airlines you have to fly with. Overbooking, cancellations, drunk pilots, and poor communication with passengers can make anyone think twice before jet-setting on an adventure. Unfortunately, unless you own a private jet or only take road trips, you’re going to have to deal with airlines. Some are better than others, but if you’re travelling on a budget, you won’t be left with many options. Do yourself a favour and read up on what will happen if your flight is delayed or cancelled and what you’re entitled to. Some airlines will work with you to re-book and some will leave you in a cloud of jet fuel. Always try to keep your cool when dealing with airline staff even if they’re being dicks. Most of the time they hold all the power, and screaming obscenities isn’t going to get you what you want. Sometimes they’ll just drag you off the airplane kicking and screaming. United Airlines, I’m looking at you.
Honestly, it was hard to not list dozens of things that suck about air travel. But the rewards of visiting far off lands still outweighs the hassles of flying, and until somebody invents a teleporter, I guess we’ll all just have to deal with it.
Do you have a good (or preferably bad) air travel story? I would love to hear it!