On Flying

After you read this blog post, you may hate me. I may come off as a spoiled brat when you read this. I’m really not, I just do not like rude people!
So, on to the real reason for this post which is…flying commercial.
For the last few years I have been unbelievably lucky to have access to a friend’s plane. I haven’t had a reason to book a commercial flight for some time and I kind of forgot how awful it is. My flight wasn’t a long one, Los Angeles to Kansas City is only about 3.5 hours (non-stop). I had a single, small carry-on and then one checked bag that I’m sure was over packed.
I arrived at the airport 2 hours before my departure and the check-in process was painful. I tried to check-in at one of the kiosks, but it refused to take my flight information. I waited in the long line at the desk and when I finally got to the front, the woman told me that I should have tried the self check-in kiosk. I told her that I had and it rejected my information. She then asked me to spell my name four times and explained that my name was flagged as a “misspelling,” which is why the kiosk didn’t work.
After I had my bag checked, I headed to the lounge area to wait. Several small children were either crying or screaming while their parents pretended not to hear them. One of the younger boys ran right into my side and then pushed me out-of-the-way. When I shot him a “you need to behave” glance, he stuck out his tongue and ran off to his inept parents.
When we were finally ready to board, they began to call out each section individually. I was amazed at the number of people who disregarded the very specific section they were boarding or were just too important to care. I sat in the back, waiting for them to call my number and watched the rest of the people I would be sharing the plane with fight it out à la Thunderdome for a 2 second head start. A head start down the ramp to wait in line for another 5 minutes, brilliant.
Once I was on the plane, I took my seat in the front. When I went to stow my carry-on I noticed my bin was already full. Full from what? I’m not sure. I asked the attendant about the bag that was already in the bin and she said it was probably from someone who had already been seated in the back. This blew my mind. Why would someone not put their bag into the bin over their seat? I wanted to rip the bag down, find it’s owner and explain logistics to him. The flight attendant asked if I wanted her to stow my bag and I told her that was fine. I’m not sure where my bag ended up.
During the flight I encountered the following:
– The man seated behind me had unbelievably horrible body odor
– The same man’s son kept kicking the back of the seats, even after I asked him to stop
– The woman sitting across from me would not try to stop her child from screaming
– When I offered her little boy Skittles (he was screaming, “I WANT CANDY!”) she snapped her head at me and said, “He doesn’t need candy. You are obviously not a parent.”
– The cookie they served me was so hard and cold, it was inedible.
I’m sure it seems silly for me to freak out about flying commercial, but when you are stuck with a group of people for an extended period you want those people to not be rude. You want to be comfortable and not feel like those around you are actively trying to annoy you.Is this post a bit of a rant? Yes. Is it a well-deserved rant? Probably not. I tend to get bent out of shape pretty easily, especially when I’m forced out of my comfort zone. I hope that I can take away something positive from this experience, perhaps it will prove to me that I really do need to just relax and “chill out.” I will, however, try to find another way home to Los Angeles so that I don’t freak out at some innocent little kid on the flight home.

7 responses to “On Flying

  1. The general public is awful. People have absolutely no self awareness. Flying commercially is always an unpleasant experience, but for those without access to a private plane, it’s a necessary evil. I had a similar experience, and unfortunately I think the best you can do is noise-cancelling headphones which aren’t even that great.

  2. Well I actually found this post kind of funny to read. 🙂 But thinking about it from your point of view it does seem like an annoying experience.

  3. I’m still amused reading this story again, I’ve flied coach my whole life. I can tell you that domestic flights are worse than most of the international lines I’ve been on.

    I suppose even with the option of flying first class/business, a part of me who learned to live without money resists the temptation to spend money for extra comfort. I neglect the entire private plane sector since I’ve never been on one. I never got a chance to critique your individual comments, so I’ll tell you how I have handled the situations in the past

    -Body Odor: this one is really hard to get around, I had this experience on international flight that was full of Indians who have that renowned BO/mixed with curry from lunch earlier. Temporarily if someone with bad BO walks by the aisle you can breathe from your hands and mask the scent, otherwise I’m usually in a window seat so I turn and face the window. Though there was that time my flight got cancelled and I was stuck in DR, and they overbooked and kicked me off my rescheduled flight so I had to spend an extra four hours in a non-air conditioned airport wearing yesterday’s clothes cause I ran out of clean clothing, I probably wasn’t at my best on that flight.

    -Kicking kids: You’re right to start with the threatening glare, the next step is either to complain to the parent or tell the flight attendant so she can complain for you. You can repeat the complaint to the flight attendant or request another seat if flight isn’t sold out. If all that fails or the FA is incompetent I’ll confront the parent angrily, like “control your kid or I’ll control him for you.”

    -Crying kids: Babies cry cause they are usually hungry or wet, both can be fixed. Toddlers cry to get what they want usually when they have succeeded in the past, it’s bad for parenting but just giving them candy or whatever usually works. All kids cry during the takeoff/landings, I think it’s the pressure changes in the ear that is uncomfortable and unavoidable. Anything older than a toddler that is crying needs to be smacked across the face.

    -Parenting critiques: I would have loved to be there for that one, I would have said “It’s not about the candy, it’s about shutting up your stupid kid.” Though you made a tactical error when you decided to eat candy in front of a kid, subtlety is your friend.

    -Above-head compartment: I notice some people shove like non-luggage compressible items up there like jackets and stuff, I usually just squish them behind my bag anyway. I’ve honestly never had a situation where the one above, across, and neighbor ones were already full that’s unusual. I would have asked if this was anyone’s bag in the front, if no one claimed it I would have taken it out and put mine in and then told the flight attendant to stow the other one and claim that I need access to my carry on during the flight.

    Those are the obvious ones. The cookie thing was a little prissy, they can’t bake you fresh cookies on the airplane. And some idiot before I was born decided that hard cookies are better than chewy ones. I’d have just not eaten it and not said anything about it. You don’t eat your own baked goods anyway, why eat a prepackaged and machine manufactured cookie? And yeah, the other thing you mentioned before about dressing up. Americans don’t dress for flights, especially coach Americans, you probably just got more unwanted attention that added to the miserable experience of flying so once again: subtlety.

    Humor me I was bored, felt like writing an essay :p

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