The Cantankerous Traveler’s Top 10 Pet Peeves

I love airplanes and still find it amazing that such pieces of machinery are capable of transporting me through the air to a  business meeting an hour away or to a vacation halfway around the world. However, I often lose sight of this appreciation because of all the inconvenient, annoying, ridiculous, and dumb things that happen during the process of traveling. Below are the top 10 things that turn me into a thankless, cantankerous traveler. How do they compare to your travel pet peeves?

  1. The Security Line Cutter: I confess that I have been the very person I am about to scorn — the traveler who arrives at the airport minutes before her flight and gets to skip to the front of the security line. All you have to do show your boarding pass stamped with the imminent take-off time, and security will escort you past all the organized and punctual people waiting diligently and responsibly in line. I deserved all the dirty looks I got when I pulled off this stunt. Get to the airport in plenty of time.
  2. The Stinker: I understand some people/cultures don’t wear deodorant (my beloved uncle is one of them), but pungent body odor is not acceptable in confined spaces, i.e., an airplane cabin filled with people. At a minimum, those who do not believe in deodorant should shower and powder before getting on a plane.
  3. The Perfume Lover: On a recent plane trip, I sat next to a very nice lady who was wearing massive amounts of perfume. “I just purchased this beautiful bottle at the Duty Free store!” she gushed. “How nice!” I replied, breathing out of my mouth. The fumes were suffocating. Hold the perfume until you’ve landed at your destination.
  4. The Clueless Gabber: Some people really value their alone time on the plane. It’s a good place to read a book, work on the laptop, stare out the window, and sleep. If your neighbor is engaged in at least one of these activities, it’s a sure sign he doesn’t want to make conversation. Don’t be that clueless gabber who ignores the social cues.
  5. The Cranky Flight Attendant: I know flight attendants have to deal with unruly and unfriendly passengers but hey — we’re not all jerks! I am always polite and thankful to flight attendants. Please don’t make me feel bad for nicely requesting a blanket.
  6. The Seatbacker: It drives me bananas when the person in front of me does not put her seatback up during mealtimes. This leaves me with about 2 inches of space in which to eat my food. Make someone happy the next time you fly: when those food trays come by, put your seatback up, turn around, and wink knowingly to the person behind you.
  7. The Bathroom Sink Bandit: Unlike regular sinks, the sinks in airplane lavatories are, by default, stopped up. Water accumulates in the sink when you wash and does not drain until you release the stopper. It’s pretty obvious. Don’t leave the cloudy soup of your dirty wash water in the sink for the next passenger.
  8. The Unpredictable Bladder: Have you ever felt the urgent need to use the lavatory during a period of turbulence? It’s an awkward situation: first you have to explain yourself to a flight attendant and then you have to deal with the unpleasant experience of being in a lavatory during turbulence. The only way I avoid the unpredictable bladder is to limit the consumption of liquids, especially alcohol.
  9. The Frat Brat: Speaking of alcohol, what’s the benefit of getting tipsy with no place to go (unless there are secret dance rooms on airplanes I’m unaware of)? Some people like to get drunk and rowdy on an airplane, which is disruptive and very unfunny. Don’t drink and fly — and if you do, sleep it off during the flight.
  10. The DEFCON 1 Disembarker: We’re all in a hurry to get off that plane, which is why it’s extra, extra annoying when someone doesn’t wait their turn to exit front-to-back, row-by-row and instead races ahead, cutting people off in the process. Unless you’re about to miss a connection, chill out and wait your turn to disembark.

Now, your turn. What drives you nuts about travel?

About Melody Demel

Melody is Senior Manager, PR for Boingo Wireless, where she is responsible for media relations, brand building and thought leadership initiatives. Melody is a die-hard Nebraska Cornhuskers fan and retired NCAA DI college field hockey player.
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9 Responses to The Cantankerous Traveler’s Top 10 Pet Peeves

  1. Boomergirl50 says:

    I have a question for anyone reading your blog that works for an airline that relates to #10 on your list of pet peeves- the disembarker. If all commercial planes come equipped with front and back doors, why can’t passengers disembark at both ends? An airport employee told me that double bridges are available to make it happen but that it doesn’t because of cost. Is this true?

  2. Brajit says:


    It would make total sense to use both the front and back doors for deplaning, but many airports don’t have easy internal access to the terminal, and it would be unsafe for an airline to do so. Some airports have restrictions as to who can be out on the ramp/tarmac area, even with escorts, and if there isn’t an easy way to get inside the terminal, it won’t happen. Jetbridges/Aerobridges/Jetways, as they all come with stairs, aren’t the best for the casual traveler to be walking up and down on. Weather is also a big factor, as is airline staffing (with very few staff members to go around, and you have to keep an eye outside so one doesn’t just wander off.

    Being a flight attendant, I see more rear-deplaning in places like Florida and California, and again, only when possible. And, although it may seem like it is quicker, it’s actually harder, because there is usually just a set of stairs in the back, along with another set into the terminal, and people, with their massive amounts of carry-on luggage, just slow down the process as they try to lug everything up and down.

    Some airports, Denver and Calgary, have double jetbridges like that employee stated, but it’s all about real estate, and not all airports (especially older ones) have the room incorporated to allow them to operate. Remember, most airports were built before the need for aviation security and 500+ seater airplanes….

  3. Baochi says:

    Thanks for the insight! And thanks for being a great flight attendant! 🙂

  4. Countygal says:

    I agree with the travel pet peeves and let me add one. Airlines are finding more ways to increase their revenues such as offer “preferred” boarding passes for a price. I was on such a flight recently when they called for the preferred boarding patrons, there were two ladies in front of me (I had purchased the “preferred” boarding option) that didn’t have preferred boarding passes and the gate person let them continue in front of me!

    I don’t think they did it intentionally but they were talking so much you couldn’t clearly hear the instructions from the gate person. If the gate person had asked them to step aside until she called general boarding they probably would have.

    Next time I trave that airline, I will not purchase the preferred boarding option since they don’t enforce the rules.

  5. Aliceinwonderland says:

    It is bad enough being subjected to an increasing number of restrictions and rituals, I would very much appreciate understanding -or reading- the detailed directions announced by the TSA employees at the security line. Each airport seems to have their own way of doing things.
    There would be less confusion and tension.

  6. Baochi says:

    That’s a great suggestion to have a succinct sign with instructions. It’s unnerving having a TSA employee shouting out instructions amidst the chaos of the security line.

  7. Enrique says:

    You know what is really annoying? Not having free internet in the airport

  8. peter says:

    I have a pet turtle. here is a video of my Turtle attacking a cat it’s so funny

  9. Baochi says:

    LOL. Now that is, quite literally, a demonstration of pet peeves! What a fearless turtle. Thanks for sharing!