Major Air Traveler Pet Peeves

Airport Pet Peeves
Photo courtesy of ABC News
In the Calgary International Airport, I once received a pat-down search that included someone swabbing the zippered fly of my jeans with a Q-tip. The short, stocky security agent stole third so fast, I didn’t have time to think, let alone to say, Hey lady, couldn’t we leave some mystery in our relationship? I was annoyed by the incident, but in the interest of national security, I gritted my teeth and got over it.

Unfortunately, handsy security screeners aren’t the only annoying part of the traveling experience. The following is my list of Air Traveler Pet Peeves (in order of appearance):

The clueless traveler.

Oh, I need my passport to travel out of the country? Oh, I can’t take this full bottle of vodka through security and onto the plane?

Take your time, honey. It’s not like any of us in the line behind you have planes to catch.

People who don’t get out of the way after security screening is complete.

These folks get waved through the metal detector, then walk straight to the mouth of the x-ray machine and stare into it. They lean forward and retrieve things as they emerge. And they don’t move until they are fully put together again; shoes on, wallet replaced in pocket, belt buckled, laptop slid into bag, email checked, mascara refreshed. Meanwhile, the possessions of fellow travelers are piling up behind them. Grab your stuff and get the bloody heck out of the way!

The guy making a deal on his cell phone in the waiting area.

“I gave Linda that paperwork on Tuesday. (Pause) Maybe she should check her friggin’ yoga bag then, because I gave it to her Tuesday. Signed. (Pause) I’ll take him to the Jets game, then, and get him drunk.”

Nobody at Gate 113 cares, big guy. Hang up or GTFO.

The teenage couple licking one another’s faces at the gate.

I’m the first person to smile indulgently at young, happy couples who hold hands and kiss and cuddle at airports. I love traveling with my husband, too. But there’s a limit to the amount of PDA I care to observe in the waiting area. In the movie Outbreak (1995), a young, pre-McDreamy Patrick Dempsey deplanes after unwittingly becoming contaminated with Crazy Monkey Flu, and is greeted by his girlfriend in PDA-tastic fashion. Because the audience knows Dempsey is sick, this face-sucking marathon is all the grosser. But honestly, this nausea is how I feel about any couple tongue-tangoing while the gate attendant calls for Boarding Group B.

Giant carry-on woman.

She packs the biggest possible carry-on. It barely squeezes down the aisle as she drags it to her seat. She can’t lift it above her head. When she does get it into the overhead bin, it won’t fit wheels-first, as it’s supposed to. She loads it sideways, eliminating much-needed space for fellow passengers. Need I say more?

The guy who refuses to get off his cell phone before takeoff.

Most famously, this guy was Alec Baldwin, and he wouldn’t quit his game of Words With Friends. But more often, this guy is just a belligerent businessman (sometimes it’s Mr. Let’s-Make-A-Deal from the waiting area) who ignores every warning from the flight crew and continues to prattle on about global indexes or mortgage rates or tee times. Bottom line, the plane won’t take off until his call has ended and his phone is off… and he doesn’t care that he’s making us wait for the missus to say I Love You and hang up first.

Again I say, Take your time honey. It’s not like your 150+ fellow passengers want to get to their destination or anything.

The girl who puts her tray table down before takeoff.

Honestly, my most recent flight to the west coast was the first time I’ve seen this one. Take-off requires that all passengers’ tray tables must be up and seatbacks must be in their full, upright positions. Who doesn’t know that? Who puts the tray down as we taxi to the runway? Someone with a banana nut muffin she plans to eat in the next 5 minutes, that’s who.

The guy sitting on the aisle who falls asleep and keeps me from going to the bathroom during an 8-hour transatlantic flight.

Pretty self-explanatory.

People who stand up and open the overhead bins before the plane parks at the gate.

We laugh when flight attendants demonstrate how to open and close a seatbelt buckle because the whole exercise seems so utterly obvious. But every single time an airplane lands, the flight attendants get on the intercom and say, “For your safety, please remain in your seats until the plane is parked at the gate and the pilot has turned off the fasten seatbelt sign.” Again, obvious. The plane is moving. Don’t get up because you a) might fall over or b) might drop your 30-pound duffle on some poor woman’s head. But people do it anyway. Unbelievable.

Travel wisely; travel kindly; travel well.



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