Travel Annoyances – Tips and Laughs

Anytime you put a lot of people together in one place (like an airport) and add a little stress (like time pressure for a schedule) and add some variables (like how long the line will be for security) and you have a recipe for disaster. It is really a miracle that we manage to get where we are going – in one piece and with all of our luggage on a regular basis. But, in spite of ourselves as flawed humans, we do – climb into a metal tube and go hurtling through the sky and even have snacks while we do it.

It could be worse, much much worse! But still, there are lots of traveling annoyances. Some we can make the best of and some we just tolerate and some – the best, we laugh at!

Annoying travel problems solved (or at least laughed at):

Travel Annoyances – Armrest wars

Neighbor hogging the armrest? Not interested in sharing it….Especially with creepy/smelly guy who wants to take up some of your personal space? Check out the award winning paperclip arm rest design! This fabulous idea for a double decker arm rest that gives passengers on both sides a spot to rest their arm is the brilliant and award winning design from James Lee. Photo from paperclip

Woman using paperclip design arm rest from James Lee, Travel Annoyances,


How awesome is this? One person gets the top portion of the arm rest and one person gets the lower section. In theory everyone is happy!

We all know there will be some arguments over who gets the top section as some people are determined to argue over something! Now to just get airplanes to install them, right?

Travel Annoyances – Sky Couch Option

Those darn armrests get in the way again when you are trying to sleep or cuddle with kids on a flight.

Air New Zealand has a creative idea called the sky couch option. The arm rests fold away, a foot rest folds out and the seats become a flat couch like area.

My first thought is, “Awesome!! It would be so much easier for everyone to sleep, piled up like puppies, on a long flight.” This would be great for traveling families who have little ones along. The airline advertises that the leg rests are all independent so some can be up and some can be down to ‘take the stress out of long haul flights’.  Check out this photo from Air New Zealand.

Couple on a plane, woman asleep, Travel Annoyances,


But my second thought was, “Wait a minute…this might encourage people wanting to join the Mile High Club.”  The airline advertises sky couch for a couple ‘can give you that extra bit of private, personal space and comfort for long haul flights’. I hope they aren’t booked in the row across from me and the kids! Hmm…..maybe it isn’t such a good idea after all?

Travel Annoyances – Boarding the plane like a stampede of cattle

Seriously? We have assigned seats. If everyone followed the rules about carry-on luggage actually being carry-on luggage sized we would have room in the overhead bins without worry, too. But no……everyone crowds the gates….clumps in the line… I think airline employees call the people who crowd around the gate even though they are scheduled to be the last to board ‘lice’. LOL!

Astrophysicist, Jason Steffen, came up with a new and improved way to board an airplane! (No I am not making that up. Astrophysicists apparently do travel and get annoyed like the rest of us.) Read and see charts about his brilliant and complicated system for boarding an airplane quickly here. Even though it would be really hard to implement because frankly, you know how people don’t want to mind the rules as it is, it might be worth trying because according to the system, it would be twice as fast and save up to $110 MILLION per year per carrier. Now, as a  traveler I’m all about saving time so I’m in if an airline wants to give it a try. We can all be hopeful that the savings the airlines enjoy will be turned into reduced airline fares for passengers!!! Right….I’ll wait till we all stop laughing before we continue.

Airplane astrophysicist, Jason Steffen, did tests on a computer model and decided that the best way to board an airplane is to start from the first and then aisles.  Well, duh! No offense to smart astrophysicists everywhere, but any preschool teacher could have told you that! The trick will be getting grown ups to follow the rules. We can only dream.

Perhaps airlines need to hire preschool teachers. They wrangle a class full of 4 year olds every day. I have a feeling a group of business men would be no problem. 😉

Travel Annoyances – Carryon luggage being WAY bigger than carryon size.

Remember these?  Remember when the airline employee made you put your carryon in it to prove it would fit?


Apparently the rules about carryon size is just meant for ‘other people’ because I can not believe the size of things I see being carried on planes.


What happened to the rules? Why are people so determined to carry on bigger and more than allowed? Airpline personnel seem to have trouble getting people to comply with these rules. I bet it is a really miserable thing to have to argue with people all day long every day about the rules. They need to have some lessons from kindergarten teachers.

A kindergarten teacher, how wrestles unruly children all day, would have those enormous ‘carryon’ bags checked like regular luggage in a hurry. Then, she would probably have the offending person sitting in time out to think about making the best choice next time.

Yes, experience with small children or maybe convicts or boot camp recruits might be necessary for airline personnel.


Travel Annoyances – Feet

Oh, I can hardly stand to write about this topic. I can NOT believe the things I’ve heard and the photos I’ve seen. Thankfully, I have no photos of my own to share as (knock on wood) I have not actually seen these disgusting things in person.

Disgusting things people do with feet on a plane:

People taking their bare feet and cramming them between the wall and the armrest. If this is you – **NEWSFLASH** The people in front of you can see your feet…smell your feet and are grossed out by your feet. Just saying. Put those tootsies back in your own space.

People clip their nails. Really? I mean, really. I know the world is all about multi tasking but really? **NEWSFLASH** to those of you who think clipping your nails in public is OK – clipping your nails in public is GROSS and you need to just NOT. DO. IT. Nail clipping is done in your bathroom at home.

People painting their nails. This is almost as bad. I know you think that nail polish doesn’t smell. (It does.) and that you should be able to do anything you want to do in the seat you paid so much for, dammit! (Not really) **NEWSFLASH** You are not the only one on the plane. Please check your  ‘I’m the most important person in the world’ attitude at the door along with your oversized carryon bag.

What to do about it? I’ve heard everything from tolerating it in silence to talking to the flight attendant to public shaming. Google ‘passenger shaming’ and you’ll see photos and read things that will make you question how our species has made it this far. There is an entire instagram account called “passenger shaming’ and the photos are NOT for the delicate of heart!

There are no photos of this subject on purpose. Googling for them just grossed me out!

Travel Annoyances – Screaming Children

There are really two categories of screaming children:

  1. Screaming Children with parents doing everything they can to quiet child
  2. Screaming Children with RUDE and OBNOXIOUS parents who do nothing

Let us all agree that parents who are trying really really hard to help comfort or amuse and quiet their child are to be helped and not scorned.

The REAL problems are those rude and obnoxious parents who put on expensive headphones and let little Billy scream for hours on end. Those are the same people who think the world revolves entirely around them and you are just….not important. Now that we’ve all agreed on the problem…what is the solution?

Step one: Huff/grumble/complain to each other/roll your eyes.

This doesn’t help at all but seems to be the very first thing people do in this situation.

Step two: Realize you don’t know the whole story.

Stop for a minute. It might look like these are uncaring and obnoxious parents and a horrible brat of a child. Maybe you are right and this is the next mass murderer or backstabbing politician and his/her miserable sorry excuse for parents.

BUT  – it is also possible this child is special needs. Perhaps the parents are beside themselves with grief because they are flying to a funeral. Maybe someone just lost a job. Maybe someone is having surgery. You just don’t’ know.

If you have it in your heart – take a deep breath and try to ignore it. Be thankful that whole scene isn’t your scene. Sometimes, only by the grace of god……

Step three: Complain to the flight attendants.

After huffing/grumbling and rolling eyes doesn’t work reach out to the flight attendants. Keep in mind the flight attendant is likely aware of the problem already, as is everyone else in the plane, and knows that speaking to the parent will likely not help. It is possible, sadly, that someone rude enough to let their child scream and carry on like a wild banshee without giving any thought to the feelings of the child or a  plane full of total strangers will also NOT listen to the flight attendant’s request regarding working to quiet the child.

Step four: Help

If the parent really is ignoring the child then they are going to be unreceptive to you. So…speak to child directly. “Hi! What is your name?” spoken loudly and in a chipper tone sometimes will shock a crying child into stunned silence. When they then stare at you say something else, “Where are you going? How old are you? Are you having a bad day?” Any sweet sentence will do. With luck, you’ll be playing peek a boo with previously screaming child in no time.

Don’t think of doing it for the parent – as you are surely really mad at said person by now! Think of it as helping the child who is clearly unhappy. Is the child a ‘brat’ or just scared? Is the child sick? Is the child special needs? If anyone needs a little extra chance it is a child who can’t manage to act the right way right now for some reason.

What if the kid really is a brat? Should you “give in” to a brat and help amuse them? YES! Actually curing them of ‘brattiness’ is not your concern. You are just trying to get through a flight – not taking them on to raise. You’ll be the bigger person here and the whole plane will thank you!

Now, should you have to do this? Well, of course not. Would it be nice to kick back and relax on the flight you spent so much money for – yes, yes it would. But….with a child screaming and no one doing anything about it you won’t be able to do that anyway. Someone needs to step up and try to help and it might as well be you!

Step five: Deal with it

Sometimes none of the above helps. Since you are stuck in a tube flying through the sky…sometime the only thing left to do is deal. Try noise canceling headphones (This is reason number one why you should always travel with some!) try to concentrate on a movie, try to….anything except toe nail clipping! Please!  Perhaps an adult beverage would help. It surely wouldn’t hurt. There are far worse things in the world than to be annoyed by someone rude and a screaming child and soon enough it will be all over.

Get some ideas for keeping YOUR kids happy and occupied on a plane here!

Travel Annoyances – Being nickeled and dimes by the airlines

Ah, remember the days when you got a FREE decent meal on an airplane? (Me neither – airline food is like school food – suspicious on a good day! LOL!) Actually, once – a million years ago I got lobster bisque on a plane and thought I was in high cotton! (For those readers not from the southern US – High cotton is an idiom that means “fancy and high class”) Since then….well….sometimes it is edible.

Now you have to pay for EVERYTHING!

Free meals? Gone. Free snacks? Mostly gone unless you count a teeny tiny bag of peanut crumbles sometimes given out on planes. Free luggage? Gone – unless you are flying first class in which case you deserve free luggage in exchange for the crazy price you are paying for your seat. Free movies? Free wifi? Free headphones? Rarely. Thankfully a visit to the online lavatory is still free, but I figure the day when you pay is nearing…..

The most annoying nickel and dime thing I’ve run into lately has been to pay for your actual seat. I was flying Jet Blue this summer and they had a great fare. Then I had to pay for luggage -expected. But when I had to pay for an actual seat I was annoyed! There was not one single $0 seat open on the entire plane. Not even one. In order to get a few seats together for the kids and I meant buying more expensive seats!! Grrrr…… What if I was traveling with my preschooler? Should I really have to pay extra to get to sit with him? I guess I could go the cheaper route and have him sitting 6 rows behind me, right? Can you imagine the chaos if that happened?

Travel Annoyances – What to do?

Plan ahead! You can make the most of an airline experience by planning ahead. Smooth things over as much as you can and it will make the things you can’t control a little more tolerable.

Start with choosing the best flight. I wish I had known about Jet Blue and the annoying nitty gritty when I first signed up. I would have chosen another airline. Take the least irritating!

Next, go with TSA Precheck which makes airport security SOOO much better! Leave your shoes and jacket on and stand in a much shorter line. Read more about TSA Precheck here.

Take your own entertainment. Bring your own earphones. Besides saving money, your earphones will be clean (not everything in a plastic bag from the airline is actually clean – creepy but true) and more comfortable.

Bring your own snacks and food. You never know what you’ll find for airline food and snacks. When we traveled Turkish Airlines we had the most wonderful food adventure ever, but other than that…most airplane food is mediocre at BEST. Bring your own. Be careful about peanut butter because people near you might have allergies. If you can live without peanut butter for a few hours on this one plane ride you can feel like a good person! Take a few minutes to think about others and choose food that isn’t stinky like hard boiled eggs, anything heavy garlic and tuna fish. LOL! Imagine if every other person on the plane brought something smelly to eat. It would take days to air out the plane!

Lead by example. Keep your shoes on and your feet and hands to yourself on the plane! No perfume spraying or nail clipping or yoga poses that have you upside down with feet and nether regions flailing around. I swear it’s like some people totally lose their mind on a plane.

The Educational Tourist wearing hat in Tangier, Morocco, Baseball Caps - Good Traveling Hat?

Anything you would like to add? What is your pet peeve on an airplane and how to you cope?

Happy travels!

Natalie, The Educational Tourist


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20 Responses

  1. I’m actually looking forward to the Sky Couch on ANZ on our flight to the Cook Islands in August! Right now I use the 1st class kid travel pillow for my 5 year old and she generally sleeps all night on long-hauls, but this will be even better. And as far as screaming kids go, I’m lucky that mine has been an excellent traveler since we started flying with her at 6 weeks. However I do understand that some kids are just unhappy regardless of where they are and there isn’t a thing the parents can do to make them stop screaming. I just thank God it’s them and not me!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      LOL! I know. Whenever we have a screaming kiddo nearby I just try to send good vibes to the parents who are wishing baby was quiet as much as everyone else is wishing that!!

  2. I don’t really mind all the extra fees the airlines put on you after having bought a ticket. I mean, flight tickets are way cheaper now than they were, and people pay for what they need. For an experienced solo traveller, the system ensures cheaper tickets as I dont need a horrible meal, prebooked seats etc. Let people pay for what they use.

  3. I agree with you about the annoyance of boarding an airplane like a herd of cattle but some airlines go too far when it comes to priority boarding. When I flew with United, I couldn’t believe they have 5 categories of travelers. It seems so hierarchical and classist!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I know!! Once we were the first boarding group and so when boarding time was announced we walked up to get in line. We were stunned when we realized there were SO many groups ahead of #1. LOL! Gold boarding, platinum boarding, silver star boarding…LOL! We were practically last to get on the plane. Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your opinion.

  4. Daisy says:

    Hahah that was hilarious! But you know what, somehow I do love plane food. love the mystery of pulling back that foil cover and discovering what’s inside 😉 Thank god I have yet to experience any extremes though. Being stuck in a metal box with any of these would be exhaausting

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Well that is interesting! It does help pass the time. I always look forward to the meal coming to check it out…just in case there is something yummy in it. 😉 At least dessert! Thanks for sharing your opinions.

  5. Ha ha I had a chuckle reading some of these because I can totally relate! I never understand why there is such a stampede to board the plane in a hurry when you’re all going to be sitting down for the next few hours anyway! Also when the plane lands and suddenly anyone quickly hurries to unclick their seat belts, even though the light is still on, and stand hovering in the aisle. And we’re mostly all likely to be waiting at the baggage claim anyway!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Hurry up and wait….seems to be the new mantra for airline travel. LOL! Thanks for sharing your annoyances.

  6. Yes, I totally relate to this post with all these annoyances. I always try to do my best to have a positive attitude but sometime its not easy when people are being rude or pushing me out of the gate once landed. I think it’s neat that people are coming up with ways to solve some of these annoyances like the arrest and sky couch. I just wish that the airlines wouldn’t charge every single thing like picking seats and snacks, making it hard for people to enjoy their flights. By the way, I can’t stand feet at all. I easily get grossed out whenever I see people picking their feet or really anything to do with it. Luckily I haven’t encountered that on the plane but I have seen that on trains or buses.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Feet…..Just WHY?? Aren’t the grossed out by where they are putting their feet? We sure are grossed out seeing them everywhere. Just yesterday I saw another post online with someone’s feet sticking through on the armrests to the chair in front of them. Mercy sakes!! Thanks for sharing your annoyances. 🙂

  7. rhiydwi says:

    That Air New Zealand couch looks amazing! I can totally sympathise with your reservations about them being a potential invitation to the mile high club BUT just imagine how amazing it would be to get a whole row to yourself?! I need a paperclip armchair in my life. Such a good idea – why is it not on most airlines yet?! As for airlines charging for everything – SO annoying! The worst part about flying short-haul is constantly having extra charges piled on top of what you originally thought was a bargain trip. And then when the cabin crew wander through with a trolley full of duty free goods half way through!! I just want to push their trolley out of the plane.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      The paperclip arm rest is the BEST idea, isn’t it??? I would love to try it in person. I do think the New Zealand couch would make it easier for kids to get some sleep…as mom would be the pillow…maybe not so much for mom, though. LOL!

  8. Joanna says:

    Oh, I so hate the “cattle boarding”. I fly very often in Europe and 99% of the time I will use a low cost carrier, like Ryanair for example. They do board on sections of the plane but they only guarantee that your carryon will go on board if you are among the first 90. So you can imagine that one hour before boarding even starts, as soon as the gate is shown, people start to queue. It’s so annoying but then again, if you don’t then you might have to give your hand luggage to be checked in, and what do you do if it’s full of equipment, like laptop, camera and lenses?

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I do, too! With the recent ban on electronics on some airlines I fear that dealing with stuff like electronics in bags instead of carryon is certainly going to be more common. Thanks for sharing your annoyances. 🙂

  9. This is such a useful post…well feet…oh my…smelly smelly feet! I have such a hightened sense of smell and this causes me so much grief. I was once next to a smelly man…guess he hadnt taken a bath for a week. I almost threw up!
    Well…thanks a bunch for the tips and suggestions…being prepared will take away from grief 🙂

    • NatalieTanner says:

      UGH! I feel your pain and have been really lucky over the years truthfully, but always good to be prepared just in case. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  10. This was such a hilarious post to read! You had me at the first one right off the bat – it’s awkward when you’re sharing an armrest with a stranger. And about that boarding mess? I don’t get it either. There are assigned seats indeed and people still line up making it difficult to get through!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Travel seems to bring out the worst in some people! Have you seen the passenger shaming stuff online? OH. MERCY. LOL!

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