My Top 5 Inflight Pet Peeves

As I flew back from a recent trip, having experienced a few random annoyances, my mind immediately sought to mentally catalog all my pet peeves about flying (I did have nine hours to kill…).  A few months ago I shared my hotel pet peeves.  I greatly enjoyed hearing from you on your own hotel pet peeves, so I thought I’d share what came to mind during that flight – and I hope I hear back from you on yours as I am sure five pet peeves cannot be all there is!

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Flying over Tampa Bay, Florida

Nota bene:  I will even skip the obvious one:  what passes for food (or snacks)…  Too easy.

Let’s work our way to the number one pet peeve…

5.  Poorly engineered entertainment systems

Ahhh… I sit down and get comfy.  I turn on the entertainment system.  How cool, I get to watch some movie I have not watched that I have been wanting to see.  And then takeoff rolls around.  Blip.  Entertainment system turns off and when it finally re-starts, we start from scratch.

I have never really thought there was ANOTHER WAY.  Until a recent flight where that did not happen.  I was blown away!  I was able to pick up the movie where I had left off.  What a frigging concept!  And then the system did not shutdown 20 minutes before landing – all that time to kill until I could get up to exit the plane.  I have never understood why the cursed system could not keep me entertained up until the rows ahead of me had cleared out and my turn to walk out had come.  Soup-to-nuts entertainment is what I want on a flight.  Is it THAT hard?  Some engineer somewhere must have the answer!

4.  “8-track age” PA systems

Those public announcement (PA) systems on the plane used by the flight attendants to tell you 100 times during boarding to stow one carry-on under the seat in front of you to save overhead bin space…  Is it impossible in this day and age to get clear sound coming out from speakers???  Please, give me a break!!!  Feedback and noise are easily solvable these days, folks, come ON!  Spend some money on engineering please!  And then the pilot comes up during the flight and you can’t hear a thing.  Really???

3.  Continuing the entertainment theme

My next pet peeve applies to airplane configurations where there is a personal TV screen in the back of a seat and where said screen is a touchscreen.  I imagine you can guess what this one is about… It’s about the fact there always seems to be a boxer behind me who thinks the touchscreen is a punchscreen.  PUNCH.  PUNCH. PUNCH.  Hey, idiot, the force of the punch makes no difference.  TAP IT!  I normally do not confront people when they are being inconsiderate but on this one, after a few rounds of PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH, I will turn around and inform them tapping is preferred.  I have a lot of patience to be sure it was not a one-off PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH but after a round of these, I do turn around…

2.  Slingshot seat

Oh, boy, do I just HATE this…  Especially when I am FINALLY asleep (it is hard for me to fall asleep when flying) and the moron behind me thinks the back of the seat in front of them is PURELY for leverage when they get up.  It is one of the most inconsiderate things in a plane in my book…  Added propulsion as I sit placidly, in turn, in a propelled metal tube…  I will give said fellow passenger a look on the second or third incident and after that, if it is a long flight, I do speak up because I don’t want this game going on for hours…

And, drum roll please, …. the number one inflight pet peeve…

1.  Parents behaving badly

Even more than the slingshot seat, parents behaving badly is about the most intolerable things in a plane.  It is not the screaming child that annoys me.   OK, that does, but I understand that toddlers are not always controllable and I can deal with it.  However, it’s the dumbass parents who think the time we are all trapped in a metal cylinder being propelled through the atmosphere by combustible fuel is the time to demonstrate the ideal child-rearing parental behavior are just FREAKING RUDE.  What do I mean about the ideal cihld-rearing parental behavior?  Well, it is that behavior in which you don’t tell the child “no.”  You just let them go on and on yelling (not crying) though it is an overnight flight because you don’t want to “traumatize them.”  Well let me tell you, some day, someone will step up and yell at them and traumatize that child.  It will not traumatize the child if for once you act like a mature adult and be considerate to others around you!


So, there they are.  What do you think???  But I don’t want to leave just thinking about why flying can be so annoying.  Because flying also affords us great opportunities to see the world and some magical images of our planet and our sun – as this picture shows!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA, sunset, airplane, flying, airplane engine, reflection, sun, plane, flight

One amazing sunset and my plane all captured on the engine!


  1. raul – you can tell you’ve logged a ridiculous amount of miles so clearly you could make this a longer list. but as a non-elite flyer, I’ve got a couple you may not experience anymore:

    1) the zone defense – the crowd mentality to hover, stake out an advantageous spot, and crowd near the gate while waiting for their zone to be called thereby creating a chaotic if not stressful queue waiting to board.

    2) stow-top stealers – the people who stow their carry-on in any bin in the front of the plane instead of above their row. what happens then? well you get to your row only to find that there are not any spaces above to stow *your* bag and then you have to go back to stow it behind you. aside from the selfish nature of these stow-top stealers, they create a logistical nightmare as people cannot easily deplane until they get their bag. so now we hear the common refrain “can you pass me my bag?” and watch as people of all abilities try to secure the right bag and pass it forward.

    sharing from the middle seat, jr

    • Hey, middle-seat JR! Not only the people who stow ahead of their seat but the fools who stow their laptop bag as well as their other carry-on on their overhead bin and then there is nothing under the seat in front of them! And if they were over 6ft tall, I maybe could understand but many of the selfish ones I have observed could well place the darned laptop bag under that seat in front of them…

  2. I never knew there was a word for ‘slingshot seat’ but it fits absolutely *perfectly*. This is one that I myself avoid like the plague, because (like you) it drives me nuts when someone does this. Even when I *see* people doing this it annoys me! And then I look back at my entertainment system and I forget all about it. 🙂
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  3. Raul, I totally agree with you about the “slingshot seat” and “punchscreen” problems. Nothing bothers me more on a flight than someone banging on my seat or pulling on it while I’m attempting to sleep.
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  4. Oh I hate to be this person, but I hate chatty seat mates. I know that 99% of the time they are just trying to be friendly, but honestly, I’m probably never going to see you again. You’re probably never going to see me again. Do we really need to know each others life stories? Ugh, I feel like a grouch for even saying it, but, it’s true. For me at least.

  5. I am not a frequent traveler like Raul and many of you but have to agree with the slingshot seat’s pet peeve. One thing that bothers me is feeling rushed to consume the snacks because the flight attendant is coming back to collect the “presumed empty cup”. May I please enjoy the drink?

  6. I’ll add three of my own. First, people who spend 10 minutes in the toilet at the end of a long flight when there are 20 people waiting and we’ve just had two hours of turbulence. Second, children and even teenagers who think it’s fun to kick the seat in front of them, and their parents who do nothing. And finally, a gate change from one end of the airport to the other, a 20 minute walk. When you finally get to the new gate, they announce it’s been changed back to the original location.

    • OK, that last one would be maddening for sure in my hometown airport, Atlanta. Gladly, I havent had that happen in years. I do totally agree on the toilet thing – all of a sudden, someone goes and decides to read Anna Karenina at the toiler – wtf? It is incredible how parents do not seem to think their kid’s kicking can be annoying. It maps well to my pet peeve about parents behaving badly! Thanks for adding these!
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  7. I can’t stop laughing!!! These obviously are not fun when you’re on board, but reading about them from the ground makes all the difference. Love this post, Raul!! Spot on, we’ve all been there (punchscreen and inconsiderate parents, aaaaarghhhh…).

  8. Have experienced many of the things described by you and the others. Just the fact that they announce the same things over and over again on the out-of-date PA seems gets to me haha. The other day it was to make sure and power down your cell phones. I’m guessing because of one person who wasn’t turning it off. Also the whole process deplaning. Everyone getting up as fast as they can as soon as the plane stops, to go nowhere.
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  9. Ok, this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. Have you ever seen a parent just rant on and on about problems with his or her child and the child is right there listening? Last week at swimming lessons, one of the Moms exclaimed that her child was just not going to behave during the lesson and she had problems with him wherever they go. Hmmm…if I was her child and she was going on and on about me as if I was not there, I might be inclined to misbehave myself. What a great way to reinforce “bad” behavior.
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  10. These are great, Raul! Some additional thoughts: 1. Purse / laptop to the face: I prefer the aisle (see #2), and inevitably get pounded by some inconsiderate person’s bag as they walk down the aisle like it’s his/her personal red carpet. 2. Super-sized people in in undersized seats: admittedly, I’m not far from being this problem, but having warm flesh cover half your arm and leg on a 5 hour (+ taxi and landing) flight is hell at 30,000 feet. It’s worse when you’re in the window seat and have no place to go… 3. People in group 8 that block access to boarding for everyone else. Really, it is too much to ask to RTFM (ok, the ticket, not the manual)? I don’t mean to sound elitist (my recent frequent flier status is much diminished over the pre-9/11 days). This is especially bad in Ft. Lauderdale with once-a-year fliers returning from a 2-week all-you-can-eat cruise (see # 2). Finally, in the unusual instance that the Chatty Cathy next to you isn’t a fairly interesting person (or becomes less tolerable after a few minutes), a pair of earbuds – plugged into nothing if you like – are an inexpensive solution (and also work well for “Parents Behaving Badly” – hilarious!).

  11. Blimey Raul, you’ve done well to narrow it down to a top 5, I have so many I don’t know where to start!

    I am very tolerant of children though, like you I appreciate they are children. I do however wish airlines would more strictly apply the one carry on policy, it seems to be blatantly abused in many places, especially within the US.

    • The Guy, I am with you on the 1-bag thing. I am lucky I get to board early so I don’t have to suffer the consequences of no-teeth when it comes to that rule. The bags some people bring are just HUGE. Then other jerks who put their little laptop bag on the overhead bin instead of under the seat in front of them…

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