Since joining the Navy in 1967, Paul has flown all over the United States and very often to East and Southeast Asia.
A Jumbo Jet Parked at Hong Kong Airport
I started flying in 1967 when I joined the Navy. Over the past years, I have flown in all kinds of planes ranging from props in the 1960s to jumbo jets today. Most of my flights have been enjoyable, but on some occasions, my patience and temper have been tested. In this article, I relate the top pet peeves about flying.
Delayed and/or Cancelled Flights
A delayed or canceled flight has to rank at the top of my pet peeves. I will never forget a Northwest flight from Detroit to Beijing that I had booked in June of 1998. At that time, Northwest pilots were engaged in a work slowdown which caught me and other passengers as victims. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 6:00 p.m. After boarding the aircraft and being seated for at least an hour, Northwest instructed all passengers to deplane because its pilots would not work after 7:00 p.m. Fortunately, we were all given vouchers to spend the night and bussed to a motel near the airport.
On the next morning, we were bussed back to the airport but had no definite flight departure time. After sitting at the airport until around mid-afternoon, we finally were informed that our flight would depart at 4:30 p.m. that afternoon. I had heard that some passengers had called one of the Detroit TV stations, and they had already sent reporters to cover this story at the airport. Undoubtedly, Northwest was afraid of bad publicity.
My second top pet peeve is uncomfortable seating in economy class. This was never a problem when I flew business class while employed by the government. Now that I have to stick to a budget when flying, I have to put up with narrow seats affording inadequate legroom. Furthermore, I cannot recline my seat sufficiently for sleeping and have less room when the passenger in front reclines his seat back. Whenever I fly now, I always request an aisle seat because I have to often leave my seat on long flights to use the restroom.
Although I realize that it is necessary in the interest of aviation safety, security screening before boarding a flight can be very annoying. In the past, I have usually had to stand in long lines. After getting to the security checkpoint, I had to practically undress by removing my jacket, shoes, belt, hat, and everything from my pockets. If an alarm goes off when passing through a metal detector, it seems like I am frisked just like a criminal suspect.
Flight Gate Aircraft Boarding Procedures
It is amazing how everyone wants to be the first to board an airplane. This is especially true in many countries outside of the United States where a logical boarding procedure doesn't exist many times. Even before a flight is called in Thailand, people are not standing orderly in line but rather pushing to be the first to get on a plane. If passengers sitting in the rear of the airplane are not boarded first, it is so uncomfortable and inconvenient to wait for those who boarded first and are sitting in the front to stow their carry-on luggage and get seated before passing to your seat.
Making Flight Connections at Big Airports
Making flight connections at large U.S. airports has sometimes been a frightening experience. My first and most hectic experience happened in January of 1971 at Los Angeles International Airport. Since my incoming flight from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was 50 minutes late arriving, I only had about 20 minutes to get from my arrival gate to an international departure gate. How I remember running across the tarmac of the airport and boarding my flight to Taiwan just as the aircraft door was being sealed!
Long Walks from Arrival Gates to Immigration Checkpoints
Whenever I arrive at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport from foreign locations, it seems like I have to walk at least a mile from the arrival gate to an immigration checkpoint. What makes it so bad is that there are not many moving walkways for senior or weary travelers.
Deplaning on the Tarmac and Taking Shuttle Buses to Arrival Gates
At Tokyo's Narita Airport and Thailand airports, I have had to deplane on the tarmac and take shuttle buses to arrival gates. This is especially uncomfortable when it is raining. The shuttle buses don't have enough seating, and it seems like I am usually standing with my carry-on luggage.
Long Taxiing Times Before and After Takeoffs and Landings
At several large airports in the United States, my departing flights have had to usually wait in long queues before being cleared for takeoff. When landing at Narita Airport and other big airports in the U.S., it seems like my plane has to taxi for 15-20 minutes before being parked at an arrival gate.
Air turbulence during flight can be a little scary, especially if it lasts for more than a minute or two. On a flight from Bangkok to Udon Thani a few years ago, the passenger next to me was praying while we were passing through a long period of very bumpy air.
I usually try to avoid bowel movements during long flights due to the usual uncleanliness of lavatories. It is highly questionable whether they are cleaned during eight to ten-hour flights.
Crying babies on a long flight is a final top peeve. The last thing I want to hear is a screaming baby when I am trying to sleep.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Paul Richard Kuehn