Three reasons why I don’t find air travel enjoyable

Thunderstorm at IAH

A massive thunderstorm halts ground operations at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas.

I’ll be honest, I don’t like flying. Yes, I think airplanes are cool and such, but air travel for me is frustrating, stressful and expensive. I’ll break my reasoning into three pieces.

Stress – Flying, for me at least, is stressful. Having to wait in endless lines at the check-in counter, unprepared people fumbling with their documentation or not having a clue of what they’re doing. Security and customs are another favourite of mine. I won’t argue that we need security to prevent incidents at the airport and onboard aircraft, but the current model is designed to add frustration to an already taxing experience. Yes, I could pay an additional fee for expedited clearance (see below) to make this portion easier, but that’s besides the point. It’s even more frustrating when you grab a bin from the stack and the person ahead of you steals it from you because they forgot to remove their own belt. Come on. Then of course, there’s the waiting. Waiting to board, heaven forbid there’s an issue with the plane or missing crew members, or even weather. There’s often very little information being passed around and what we’re given isn’t always useful. The delay could be three minutes or three hours. And that’s super important if you have connecting flights (or if you want to run to a nearby restaurant for a last minute snack/meal). Want to deplane in a timely manner? Forget about it. Even before the seat belt sign is off and the door is open, others have already unbuckled and jumped into the aisle to grab their belongings. Finally, it’s the aircraft itself. I’m six feet tall, I don’t fit comfortably in those tiny seats, much less in any of those smaller planes, especially the ones made by Embraer. I have to hunch over when boarding or exiting, pull my knees up close and hope that my seatmate isn’t as large or larger than I am. It’s not enjoyable at all.

Expensive – The cost of flying is almost as high as the planes at cruising altitude. You have your base fare, then all the additional fees: airport improvement, fuel surcharges, immigration, security, agricultural, and so on. If booking online, there’s a few airlines that will charge you in Canadian dollars; other will charge you in American funds. Should the exchange rate be less than desirable (when isn’t it), that price of the flight is going to increase. But don’t forget, cheaper flights exist if you don’t mind hopping around the country. Then, there’s fees for checking baggage. Want to clear security faster and not spend five minutes pulling off your belt and removing your shoes? Have your wallet ready! Upgrade from economy to premium economy? That’s more money. You want to buy a snack box, not a meal, a small box that is more cardboard than snack? Better bring your credit card. Now you’re thinking, “Why don’t you just bring all your stuff in carry-on and save a few bucks?” I’m not turning into those passengers who insist on bringing full-size suitcases and claim them as “carry-on”, violently shoving them into a small overhead bin. Please stop doing that. I’ve had my backpack crushed far to often because someone is trying to save thirty dollars by cramming something that’s not portable into a small cabinet. Frugality is sometimes a bad thing.

United Airlines Window Seat

A window seat is my favourite place on the airplane – for the view and a place I can rest against.

People – Granted, many people I’ve flown with were amazing, they made small chitchat, they were quiet when I wanted to attempt some shuteye and sometimes even beyond helpful (such as pulling my backpack down from the bin upon landing so I would be ready to deplane). I love those people. However, there are some, who insist that upon purchasing a ticket, they’re entitled to anything and everything. You know who they are. These are the people who will line up and try and board in group one when they’re clearly group four. These are the people who will bring full-sized suitcases (sometimes more than one) as carry-on and then verbally berate gate agents and flight crew when challenged. These are the people who will bang on the toilet door when you’re in for more than thirty seconds. These are the parents of small children who let them kick seats and pull my hair because now it’s the flight attendants’ responsibility to look after their own offspring. These are the people who cut in line when trying to grab a last minute meal. These are the people take their shoes off and roam the plane barefoot or in socks. There’s more, plenty more, but I could write a small novel on their antics. These are the people that make my flight a few hours of hell.

I know I have made a pretty grim picture of flying, but my recent flights into and out of the United States got me on this topic. However, I must give thanks to the flight crew and attendants for putting up with this on a daily basis. I try to make myself a low maintenance passenger; I don’t get up during drink service, I avoid pressing the call button during the flight and most importantly, I greet the crew with a smile and a friendly “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” each and every time, no matter how bad things are going. I know it seems small, but if I can keep to myself and get a few minutes of rest with my eyes closed, then it certainly is a good flight.

About Frederick Linsmeyer

A regular pop-drinking, hockey-watching, snow-shovelling Canadian, Frederick, aka Nephrus, loves his anime. Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Frederick runs amok between his hometown and the states of Washington and Texas, spending time with friends, at anime conventions and looking for some good burgers, brisket or sashimi.

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