What annoys you about long haul flights?

We all have to suffer them, the long hours, the cramped conditions, the rubbish food, it is a necessary evil we have to put up with if we want to jet off and explore distant lands.

These are the things that get to me … http://bemusedbackpacker.com/2013/05/29/the-10-most-annoying-things-about-flying/

It’s all just a bit of fun, but I’m interested to hear people’s thoughts about the things that really bug them on long haul flights in particular (short haul is fine too).

Michael Huxley 12/04/13    General travel chat Link Report

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I’ll get it started. For me it has to be the cramped conditions. I’m 6″2 tall and unfortunately not a contortionist, so I end up often very cramped, very uncomfortable and often in pain too on long haul flights.

What REALLY annoys me though is those damn reclining seats and the inconsiderate ‘people’ that shove them right back the second the plane is off the ground! They should be banned!

First off all they are really painful when they whack into my knees (already up against the seat), and they just make an already cramped space even smaller!

Second of all it is the sheer ill manners and inconsiderate nature of the people who use them!

They should not be allowed at all on ANY flight in my opinion!

Right, that’s my gripe over, so c’mon guys, what really annoys YOU about long haul flights! Let’s get some discussion going on this forum!

Michael Huxley 12/04/13    Link Report

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  • Michael I’m with you on this topic! Like you I am 6’3″ with long legs! I always try to get an asile seat, but does that help? No much! It ticks me off whe the person in front of me, who is probably maybe 5’7″ pushes back as soon as the flght lifts off! They also seems to constantly be moving and pushing back. Now the best one if when a meal is served! My dinner is half way to my mouth and I haven’t even begun eating (not like the food is worth eating), then after I asked the flight attendent to tell the person in front of me to put his/her seat up, as soon as the attendent is gone, they push it back? I have long arms to, so I eat like a rabbitt with for and knife!

    Another gripe is when there is a group on the plane. It seems that the asiles (very narrow asiles), become a community center for the group. I usually get some oversized butt in my face and they have no concept of manners. I usually give them a good shove when I try to get up and go to the back of the plane. Air France is the worst for this kind of situation with the narrow asiles and large people (not in height).

    As for Air France, as with most airlines they use to be good, but now they have made the asiles smaller, seats narrow and recline almost non existent. I’m an American and I use to think that United/ American/Delta were the worst, but I think now AF beats them. I will not fly United/American at all!!!!! AF is now on that list!!!! It seems that most, although not all Asian carriers and Middle East carriers are the best at the moment. Although I will amend that comment as JAL and ANA have now joined the group of midget seats.

    Most Asian carriers will give me an exit row if I ask and usually I can get them by checking in early at the airport. I asked AF if they would give me an exit row and they said only if I paid for it? I said what happened to customer service and I got no response. I even got an exit row on Aerosvit (that is another story as they canceled th flight and got stuck in Kiev.The next flight is in 2 days and you have to pay your own hotel).

    I travel very often and it is an endurance race to get there and run off the plane! I use the train in Europe almost all the time now. Simple, lot’s of room, on-time, and cheaper!

    I have more airline stories that could fill a book. One that I will always remember was a Continental flight where the middle aged flight attendent decided to hit on the guy next to me on a flght from Milan. She was a “born again” and talked God the whole flight, as she hit on this guy who was not interested. How do you tell the FA to shut up without getting thrown off the plane. She actually sat in the jump seat for hours and I thought she was going to jump this guy!!!!! Don’t they have a job?????

    Thanks for thinking of this qestion! I feel better now as I get ready for my next flight to Prague!

    Time of my life 13/04/13    Link Report

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  • Michael,

    I forgot the toilets! About the size of a telephone booth (you still have them in the UK), smelly, out of water by the end of the flight and at time out of TP. I worked on a chicken farm when I was younger and the chicken koop smelled better! OMG!

    Time of my life 13/04/13    Link Report

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  • Timeofmylife you are welcome! I think this may turn into some sort of therapy for disgruntled air passengers! Haha!

    I feel your pain my friend, i think sometimes we’d all just be better off in the cargo hold for all the space we have on the plane. And you daren’t risk saying anything for fear of being accused of air rage! What annoys me too is if you do ask them to put their seat back up, or complain to the stewardess, you get a reply of ‘it’s their right to put their seat back!’ Aargh! Is it my right not to have my legs crushed?

    I’m with you on the aisle gatherers too. Sit down and get your backside out of my face! Their manners are on par with the inconsiderate idiots who put their seat right back!

    I think most carriers are starting to lean toward the pay for extra leg room model unfortunately, which in my opinion is heightist! We’re already paying enough for the flights surely we can expect to fit on? And it is almost impossible to pre reserve an exit row or front seat because they are booked up immediately!

    Good luck on your flight to Prague!

    Michael Huxley 13/04/13    Link Report

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  • Yeah, you beat me to it, Mike. Reclining seats. Just flew the other day Ahmedabad-Doha-Zurich, and had to put up with that on the last leg.

    A close 2nd is screaming kids – had two of them as well and the cabin staff was useless (tied for uselessness with the parents).

    PirateAt50 13/04/13    Link Report

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  • It looks like I’m not the only one who hates those accursed reclining seats pirate! they really should be banned on all flights!

    I’m with you on the crying kid issue too, especially if you are trying to sleep and the parents arent doing anything!

    Michael Huxley 14/04/13    Link Report

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  • Ah yes the screaming kid! I think U.S. flight attendents are deaf and don’t give a rats butt about screaming kids. I live in Thailand and when I fly Thai Air you don’t want to mess with a Thai woman’s sleep. I have seen little old Thai ladies walk up to the mother or father of a screaming kid and tell them to keep it quiet. I do have to say that Turkish Airlines attendents are pretty on-top of this issue, but can’t stop it all the time. At least they try! Like the U.S. carriers, European airlines don’t really care unless the attendents can’t get their own beauty sleep.

    Just in case I picked up some wax ear plugs (I think I got them in Australia) and they blot out most noise, and just in case I have my noise blocking ear phones to make my sleep restful. Never sit near the exit rows where the middle seats have a place to hang the baby carrier! Sure enough the little “rug rats” will scream away, while mommy and daddy appear to be deaf.

    How about some passengers with kids who just change a baby diaper right in the seat next to you? Makes lunch a bit of an after thought!

    Time of my life 14/04/13    Link Report

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  • Same as Mike, with the addition of screaming kids and parents who don’t care. As well as rude cabin staff.

    watsoff 16/04/13    Link Report

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  • I know that this is a petty matter but for some reason it really annoys me when people take forever rifling through the overhead compartment to get their stuff out when disembarking. I mean, they’ve usually been standing blocking the aisle since the plane touched down and they didn’t think to get their stuff out while it was taxi-ing? They have to wait until the line starts moving before they start removing their 23 bags? Some of us need to get off the flight quickly to catch another……..

    On another note, I travelled with my kids when they were babies/toddlers and I guess I must have just been lucky because they were brilliant travellers – never cried or made a fuss – on short and long haul flights. But then that makes me less patient with those parents who do have screaming children because I think if my kids were good then why can’t their kids be too?

    scottyheather 16/04/13    Link Report

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  • Rude cabin staff are a pain watsoff definately. But generally I can ignore that. I’d rather be polite but I don’t mind adopting the position of just give me my drink and leave me alone if they want to be rude.

    I’m with you on the people taking forever disembarking scottyheather, it is an absolute nightmare sometimes, especially if you want to get to baggage claim or a connection quickly! We are bottlenecked on planes enough as it is without people like that just leisurely blocking the aisle! More to the point on that, why the hell are they allowed to bring 23 HUGE bags on board with them? Do the airlines just not bother with their own onboard luggage rules?

    Michael Huxley 16/04/13    Link Report

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  • Which reminds me of another one of my pet hates on flights, people who try and cram luggage that clearly should have been stowed in the overhead lockers without any consideration for anyone elses stuff.

    My carry on consists of my small daypack which I carry my essentials and electrical stuff in, the usual stuff you wouldn’t want to stow in your main pack. If I have any souvenirs coming home, they go in their too, very occassionally those souvenirs are fragile-ish. That’s ONE pack, SMALL.

    Then some moron with half a dozen massive hard cases lumbers on, sees that the overhead lockers are clearly already full with everyone elses cases (because they all clearly bought too much on too) and proceeds to try and jam their cases on top of mine, ramming and shoving to try and get it in. The amount of times that has nearly caused air rage as I politely suggest that they find somewhere else to put their stuff or they won’t like the place I reccommend! What makes it worse is I’ve even had to tell a stewardess off once for it! As if I was the one out of order for stating my bag had fragile stuff in and I didn’t want it bashed about!

    Michael Huxley 16/04/13    Link Report

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  • I have to say it is the reclining seats for me too! That and the extremely rude people who think it is ok to crush the people behind them!

    peterdraper 16/04/13    Link Report

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  • I’m quite tiny, only 5″3, but it does annoy me when people put their seats right back too, it feels like they are invading my space! And when you get a fatty spilling over the arm rest into your seat! Eww! They should be made to buy two seats!

    Stephanie L 19/04/13    Link Report

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  • Ah, I’ve been waiting a lot time for the opportunity to vent on this subject. To be fair, a lot of the things that irk me can be experienced anywhere there are Other People, but when you’re totally trapped in a plane, the irritation does get distilled to intolerable proportions. So, my top 5:

    -Stuff: I agree with everyone on the subject of how-can-that-be-classed-as-hand-luggage. I know baggage carousels are dreary, but there comes a point when the plane is just actually full. And I don’t believe the rule that states you must be able to lift your bag into the locker unassisted has ever been tested. I like a rule – but why have it and don’t use it?

    -Space: this is my space; that is your space. Half of the arm rest is mine, alternatively I have it all for half the time, you have it the other half. Don’t spill over onto my chair, fall asleep and lurch over to my side, stretch your legs onto my side, repeatedly elbow me, spread your stuff all over the place, ask me to hold your stuff while you rummage about for more stuff. Just sit still.

    -Talking: I quite like a chat. But not when the underlying threat is that it’s a chat that could go on for 10 hours and from which there is no escape. Let’s stay strangers.

    -Babies and children: I understand they’re necessary, and people like to take them on holiday. While it is appalling if you get stuck with a screamer, I find it’s often the parents who are more annoying than the child. Having a baby in tow apparently gives you tacit permission to endlessly leap up and down, pack and unpack bags, talk loudly, permit the playing of noisy games (mini wooden glockenspiel thing anyone? No, really…), sniff bottoms to check for dirty nappies (ugh) and prevent anyone else from using the bathroom for the entire flight. If I had nothing else to do in life, I’d lobby for baby cabins where they (and their parents…) could all be corralled together.

    -Disembarking: (Thankfully) I’ve never been on a plane that’s landed unexpectedly. They always tell you it’s going to happen. So put on your shoes beforehand, then we won’t all have to wait for you to have a monumental faff.

    Clare Currie 23/04/13    Link Report

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  • Clare Currie, excellent post! It made me smile! Totally agree with you on all points too! There really should be a massive sign on all flights reminding passengers of the rules of common courtesy (I’d be quite happy if they directly quoted you too) and the threat of being ejected from the plane (even at 30,000 feet) applied for even the slightest infraction! (I’m looking at you seat recliners!)

    Michael Huxley 23/04/13    Link Report

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  • Hmmmm…

    Here`s another… On a Quantas flight LAX to Melbourne, the flight staff encouraged people to move about the cabin – something about DVT, etc (I also knew a doctor that smoked before cancer was invented ;>) ) Was a fun time talking to others in the aisles and empty spaces.

    The return on United (I believe, but don`t quote me, it wasn`t Quantas) said DON`T move around.. I guess they have too many people in America.

    PirateAt50 23/04/13    Link Report

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  • Here is something I can never understand which is why do people rush to get on the plane when the boarding gate opens?
    – They have a seat on the plane
    – They are going to be on that plane for a long time, why do you want to sit in the cramped seat
    – The gate attendants are only going to turn you back if you are not the designated seat call

    KatieB 24/04/13    Link Report

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  • Hey KatieB,

    As a frequent traveler I have learned that I will always have a seat, although I may not have a place for my carry-on, especially here in Asia, as it’s a mad crush with people packing the kitchen sink and putting it in the overhead. I agree with you about the rush, especially if I can check a bag. Often in this part of the world, besides taking on large bags, there are no enforced rules of boarding. I have also had the same experience with some Eastern European Airports. If you fly some Eastern European airlines the passengers actually clap when the plane lands safely and then the run for door starts with their ovesized suitcase they stuffed into the overhead.

    Time of my life 24/04/13    Link Report

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  • Haha Pirate, I’ve honestly never had that experience! Getting people to move round? That’s nuts! It makes sense though, unless it comes into conflict with the backside in the face problem we mentioned earlier for a poor unfortunate person who remained sitting! Ha! I’m not even going to make the obvious weight joke about an American airline!

    Katie B, Time of my Life beat me to it, that’s the only reason I can think of for that mental rush too. It’s those same selfish *&!$**!*!* who ram the entire overhead storage space with their 23 oversized bags of c**p that clearly should never have been allowed on if the airline staff were doing their job properly and enforcing the rules!

    Michael Huxley 24/04/13    Link Report

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  • ;) Long darned flight, and I suppose it`s medically worthy to suggest some movement. Don`t expect I`ll take that journey again. For a few reasons :)

    I like the Southwest Airlines approach. Those checking in early are the first to board – lots of room for your carry-on baggage. Indians had to be told (and ordered) that they won`t board if they aren`t checked in 45 mins prior to a flight. Still hasn`t fixed their 112Kg of luggage per flight, but it`s baby steps, ya know?

    PirateAt50 24/04/13    Link Report

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  • PirateAt50,

    You are right about the 112KG. Have you taken a flight to or from Melbourne, AU lately. The whole plane is overloaded with folks from India slogging their 4 bags (only 1 allowed) in the overhead. Makes me crazy, but then they have to go through customs most often and they search all their bags and pay, pay, pay! As for movement on a plane. I took an Air France flight from Bangkok to Paris last month. It was a large plane, but the aisles were so narrow and the standing space so cramped it was like the wedding dress sale at Macy’s. Along with that it was community day in the aisles and people were not moving when you wanted to get by! I just love flying and I do it again next month! Self punishment!!!!

    Time of my life 25/04/13    Link Report

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  • How about the parents of the screaming kids who sit their and do absolutely nothing! And that includes the cryers and the just plain out of control ones! Just because they have become oblivious to the kid’s screeching does not mean the rest of us are! It isn’t the kids I blame, but the parents.

    KateL 07/05/13    Link Report

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  • Funny thread.

    Will anyone out there admit to being the person that reclines??

    Tim Chester 13/05/13    Link Report

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  • Having just returned from a trip to Malaysia and going on 4 long haul flights and 4 short haul flights during the trip – this topic is very fresh in my mind, but I’ll save you the excessive rants and be brief.

    1. Fat people, spilling over into my space (also fat people getting to have the same luggage weight as me, it should be a total travelling weight, you plus your luggage).

    2. Reclining seats ( I’m only 5’2 and a half, however I still find it impossible to be comfortable/eat/ when the person in front is fully reclined which I find pointless as it doesn’t make you any more comfortable).

    3. Screaming children,

    4. People standing about for ages messing about with their luggage at the end of a flight – seriously get your stuff and sit down, standing there is not going to get you off the plane any quicker.

    I think that’s everything.

    Ooh no 5. People who walk really slowly and get in your way from the plane to customs/baggage reclaim area.

    Now that’s everything.

    Saorsa_sho 13/05/13    Link Report

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  • I try not to recline m seat but if the person in front of me does then I have to. I have more reason to complain about leg room as I have 2 artificial legs! Yes screaming kids are a problem too not as much as the reclining issue. I think it is rude for your seatmates to ignore you too. At least exchange some pleasantries. Sleep well next to impossible if person in front has reclined their seat.
    Next one for me is to Europe and another peeve, the short connection. So you are worried about connecting on the next flight while on your first one.

    Ian 13/05/13    Link Report

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  • Tim, haha, I don’t think anyone would now! Which is quite strange as everything I’ve ever read on this subject usually has a huge backlash of angry people vociferously espousing their god given right to only consider their comfort, everyone else be damned! I really am surprised.

    Sarosa sho, I think there are pretty common themes cropping up now, which begs the question why aren’t these issues being addressed more?

    Michael Huxley 13/05/13    Link Report

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  • You can bet the airlines know about it and choose to do nothing. It’s based on revenue and profit. For long distances we have no choice except to stay home. The game is to see how many seats can be crammed into the flying tube they call an airplane. I was on an Air France flight last moth that had asiles that were the narrowest I have ever seen. The toilets were tiny and all so that more seats could be added and increase the net Euro’s per flight. Airlines know they have us by walnuts and really could care less. Prices continue to go up and comfort goes down unless you pay for seats with extra leg room or payout unreal fares for Business Class.

    On most Europen and American carriers if you ask for an exit row, they say sure if you pay us more money. It started in the U.S. and now Europe. Asian airlines do often respond to my request for an exit row when they see my very long legs. Korean, Thai, SIngapore are the best when asked at the airport for an exit row seat. If you get to the airport early and be polite they usually give you an exit row for no additional cost.

    I guess we are to remain victims of corporate greed! On shorter distances, especially in Europe I take the high-speed train. On my trips last year I took the train everywhere in Europe and totally enjoyed the experience. Low stress, on time, comfortable and cheaper. In China and Japan I take the high speed train and again less stress, more comfort and I can actually sleep. This past December I took the train from New York City to Washington, DC and was surprised regarding the quality, price and schedule. As trains get faster, they are a great alternative to flying and takes less time when you consider the lines for security, slow walkers, recirculated air and surley airline staff.

    So off to Europe next week on Thai Airlines, at least they will listen to my plea for exit row seating. Crying babies, terrible food, rude people, and folks under 5’2″ putting their seat back as soon as they get onboard will be the norm. I am prepared with head phones, healthy snacks, and my pointy elbows and knees.

    Time of my life 14/05/13    Link Report

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  • Time you are absolutely right, they really do know all about it and couldn’t give a damn! It really does wind me up.

    I agree with you on the train issue, apart from the primary flight to and from a destination obviously I prefer to travel overland the majority of the time wherever I am, apart from when I am home funnily enough! The UK rail network leaves a lot to be desired and are even more extortionate than the airlines!

    Good luck on your next flight!

    Michael Huxley 14/05/13    Link Report

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  • Thanks Michael! I’m sure I will have a few more stories to share about transportation. The best transport story was in Ecuador on a bus with locals and live chickens flying around the inside of the bus. It was a once in a life time experience to get to Mitel del Mundo (Middle of the earth)! I think I had eggs for lunch that day!!!!!

    Time of my life 15/05/13    Link Report

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  • There is a difference between a tourist and a traveler, but sometimes the “me” generation can’t figure out which one they are.

    If you bring on 4 bags as carry-on’s you should be denied boarding. It does say one 7kilo carry-on? If the airline allows you to bring all 4 bags on then you got away with it at the expense of other passengers who had to check their bag because you got your 4 bags onboard.

    As for lost luggage, the more you check the greater the odds are you will lose something! Always pack essentials in your small carry-on and if your lugguge goes to Paris and you go to London it will usually show up! If not, you can always go shopping!

    Time of my life 17/05/13    Link Report

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  • This thread is great – it’s like therapy!

    I had to smile at Time of my life’s Freudian typo in his Air France comments: instead of ‘aisles’, ‘asiles’, this being the French for asylums!
    Too right – planes often seem well-stocked with lunatics, hell-bent on maddening everyone around them…

    Ed Wright 17/05/13    Link Report

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  • Thanks Ed! You are right with my typo! I need to remember the next time I fly Air France, I will ask for the “asiles” as many of the characters on some flights seem to come from the asylums or maybe the underworld. I’m sure the flight crew will get a laugh out of my request????? heheheheheh

    Time of my life 17/05/13    Link Report

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  • Here is an interesting article about airline etiquette! The article speaks volumes about the current status of air travel and how passengers deal with rude or unruley fellow passengers.


    It seems that many suffer in silence becuase of the chance they will be seen as hostile, even when the space hog or ignorant are at fault!

    Time of my life 18/05/13    Link Report

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  • You’re right time, more people need to speak up against the selfish attitudes of some.

    Michael Huxley 18/05/13    Link Report

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  • I think I can put up with screaming kids, too little leg room and armrest hoggers but really, really cannot stand the 7-8th hour on a long flight (I’m thinking London – LAX), when flight boredom sets in. I wiggle in my seat, watch the first 15 minutes of about 4 different films, try to sleep, try to read my book, climb over the person next to me who has fallen asleep to go to the toilet, sit back down, look out of the window and generally mess around for a bit. The seventh hour is the worst!

    It also creeps me out when people decided to start pacing up and down the plane in convoy. They’re probably trying to avoid DVT, but it’s just unnerving.

    I must say though, I kind of like plane food. Especially those little cute carrots you get with your ‘chicken dinner’. ALSO on Virgin Atlantic, they give you Gu puddings and an ice-cream before you settle for a film and a nap. What more could you want? Except for an upgrade and copious amounts of champagne maybe? :)

    sallymakaruk 21/05/13    Link Report

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  • Great post sally, never even thought of that 7 hour itch! I’m sure it’s familiar to all of us!

    That shuffling convoy is just weird! Zombies on a plane!

    Glad someone likes the airline food though! Not the most gastro friendly food in the world! I can stand it for short periods but I’m desperate for some decent grub when I land! Bring on the mango smoothies and street food! Oh, and I wouldn’t say no to an upgrade either! ;D

    Michael Huxley 22/05/13    Link Report

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  • Sally thanks for reminding me of that last hour of long flights when I begin to get stir crazy! I’m not amused by games or movies during the last hours of a flight. I find myself looking at the flight data screen, which is a mind bending act in itself. I ask myself why is the plane going so slow? I think sometimes I’m just plain nuts!

    Now if you want to try a flight where the itch just starts at 7 hours, try a direct flight from Bangkok to LAX????? OMG 14 hours is over the top and the itch does start early. I’m not one that really sleeps on a flight no matter how long it is. So by the time I get to the 10th hour of this long flight, I start to have visions of landing. Visions of a hamburger from Micky D’s! ICK!

    I bring dried fruit and nuts on-board,as airline food has become revolting. The roll is hard, the salad wilted, the main is UFO meat of the day, dessert is dry and the wine (certain carriers) is one step away from vinegar. I think the food adds to my hallucunations of a good pizza and a beer!

    Thanks Sally for the itch reminder!!!!!

    Time of my life 22/05/13    Link Report

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  • This is an interesting debate… So, how many of you lot would pay to upgrade to a child-free zone like this one?


    Lottie Gross 21/08/13    Link Report

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  • Pay to upgrade? I think those zones should be part of the bog standard ticket price Lottie! Parents should be made to pay extra to sit in the childrens zone!!

    Michael Huxley 05/09/13    Link Report

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    Hahaha brilliant idea!

    Lottie Gross 05/09/13    Link Report

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    Well they’re the problem, why should we pay extra? Lol! A little harsh? Maybe, but I’m sure my conscience will be soothed with a long restful uninterrupted sleep on my next flight! Haha!

    Michael Huxley 05/09/13    Link Report

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