10 passengers we love to hate: Day 6 – Crybabies and restless kids

We don’t mean to hate ’em but we do. The moment of truth is when you find your seat and hope pray that a child will not be sitting next to, in front or back of, or even close to you. Children just don’t make good neighbors on an airplane. On a playground, maybe, but not when you’ve purchased a seat and five hours of flying time for $200.

Take my nephew, for instance. When his mouth is closed, he really is the most adorable little human: soft baby skin, big innocent eyes. But once his breath quickens and he makes even the slightest peep, he’s handed off to my sister like a football on 4th down.

There’s something about adjusting to the cabin air pressure that, well, turns these little cuties very ugly. Their skin turns pink, their eyes close and wrinkle, and then the mouth gapes open and the shrillest human sound escapes.

The child is inconsolable. And the parent? Well, there’s really nothing s/he can do about it except bounce the child on her lap and pray the crying will stop — and soon. Nothing — not even an emergency stop-it-from-crying kit — can calm this child. What makes the situation even worse is that the cry sounds like it’s amplified by a loudspeaker when it’s contained in the tight quarters of an airplane cabin. We’re not at a Cry Baby Matinee. We’re on a plane, and we prefer the experience to be as peaceful and pleasant as possible.

Let’s face it: an airplane is not a suitable place for a crybaby, nor is it suitable for a messy toddler who likes to kick the back of your seat for the whole flight. It’s a reality, yet one we can’t do much about.

Earplugs may help — or maybe a child section to every plane.

Read about ALL the passengers we love to hate.

10 Passengers we love to hate: Day 5 — American Idiots

I love America, and Americans. As someone who’s spent a lot of time abroad, I can say with conviction that we are some of the warmest, friendliest, most determined and able people out there. Sometimes, we’re even smart, savvy, funny, fashionable, interesting, all kinds of positive things — but some of us? Are idiots.

What I detest more than anything when traveling in a foreign country is the American Idiots — many thanks to Green Day for the moniker.

You know these people. They’re often obnoxious in America, too. They’re the ones that are too loud in the bar, or the ones who tell slightly offensive jokes in mixed company and laugh their heads off, and the ones who demand preferential treatment wherever they go. These problems are exacerbated the second they cross the border.

There are several types of American Idiots you may encounter at the airport. The first kind is American tour groups. They travel in packs — often wearing matching brightly colored shirts. American tour groups are really, really excellent at mass-oblivion moves like blocking the entrance to the baggage claim, blocking the restroom, and taking over the entire restroom, including with their bags all over the counters as they wait for the rest of their group. The worst part, in my opinion, is their tendency to make loud remarks to each other across the waiting area, and, eventually, across the plane, as though they were the only ones there. Sometimes they have entire conversations, or throw out something blue to embarrass one of their co-idiots (I’m looking at you, school groups). It’s as though the minute they enter a foreign country, it becomes them-and-the-locals, and there’s no need to pay the locals any notice. Who knows if they even speak English, right?

Well, they probably do. And there are almost always other Americans around, especially in the kind of destinations that tour groups hit. Stop making Americans look bad, tour groups. Have a little self-awareness and humble respect.

Next, let’s talk about the families. Sorry families, but you’re total jerks in foreign countries sometimes.

First of all, you brought your babies over on a very long flight and couldn’t get them to stop screaming — we assume you had your reasons for this trip that the baby won’t remember — or your adorable toddler kicked the back of my chair the entire way to Amsterdam. What we tend to see in American Idiot families (that is to say, not all families, but the ones that drive us nuts) is either a lack of discipline — tell your adorable toddler to stop kicking my chair! — or a demand for special treatment, as though nobody’s ever had kids before. Parents, it may be your first time having your babies with you in a foreign country, but I have yet to discover a foreign country where they don’t have any babies. You do not get skip to the front of the ticketing line. You do not get to let your children run amok and disturb the other passengers, whether it’s because you’re tired or because you think they’re so cute that no one will mind. You do get to board early — get your kids on the plane, get them settled, and teach them how to make a good name for our country. Buy them a coloring book or a magic pen workbook, something.

Lastly, there are the lone wolves. Found either solo or in couples, you’ll usually find these American Idiots smoking in (or just outside) the designated smoking area at the airport. They’ve usually got a few drinks in them, and their volume control is totally non-functional. The first thing on these passengers’ minds? How to get a free upgrade. They will loudly announce that they’re Americans, attempt to bribe the agents with their fancy American dollars, and often insist on telling you what state they’re from (I’m looking at you, Texas — I waited tables in NYC when I was younger and am pretty sure I never served a Texan who didn’t inform me of their Texan-ness, as though it were a totally relevant fact) in support of their argument. Sometimes, I’ve heard these people pull out historical references like “our country saved you guys when the Germans invaded,” as though that should justify a free upgrade. You’ll find them soon after their loud (or pointlessly loud-whispered) debacle in the airport bar, saying “They wouldn’t give me an upgrade, can I get a free drink?” or chain smoking angrily. Guess what, lone wolves? Everyone hates you — the foreign countries, and the Americans with their decency intact.

So, America, to the small percentage of you who travel abroad, please be considerate of others. But since you’re someone who reads Gadling, I can only assume I’m preachin’ to the choir.

Find more hopeless passengers here.

10 Passengers we love to, umm….not like as much as the others: Day 4 – The passenger who tries to score a free first class seat

In Grant Martin’s post, The top 5 myth’s about getting an upgrade, he wrote…

Flight attendants have no control over who gets upgraded when there always might be one last business class passenger coming down the jet bridge right before departure, so they can’t give away a seat. After the boarding door is closed? Maybe if you’re discreet, but with everyone watching, the flight attendant will most definitely say no.

Now I don’t know if Grant was ever a flight attendant, dated a flight attendant, or spends a lot of time in the galley talking to flight attendants, but he’s absolutely right! Flight attendants do not have upgrading powers. But agents do, so make sure to talk to one before you board. That said, the only passengers I’ve ever seen upgraded for free after the door has been shut were uniformed military personel…and…well…they kind of deserve it, don’t ya think?

Below is a list of 10 types of passengers who don’t deserve an upgrade, but give it a shot anyway….

1. I-think-I’m-a-frequent-flier passenger – “I’m a frequent flier and…” That’s how it starts. First of all, I can spot a frequent flier a mile away, so please don’t tell me how many miles you’ve flown because that’s my first clue you haven’t flown as often as you think, not compared to our frequent fliers today. See those passengers sitting in the exit row, as well as the first three rows of coach? Those passengers are at the top of the upgrade list. The best seats on the airplane are held and/or blocked for passengers who fly tens of thousands of miles each year. Anyway, real frequent fliers know the drill, they know what to expect, and they know where, exactly, their name is on the upgrade list, which means I don’t have to tell them they won’t be getting an upgrade, the way I’m telling you, because they know, that I know, that they know exactly what’s going on.

2. The curious passenger – “Hmm…I was wondering…is first class available?” asks the passenger who has just sauntered very…slowly…down…the aisle, checking out all the empty seats in first and business class on their way to their seat in coach. The answer to this question is no. First class is almost always booked full, so just because you see a few open seats does not mean those seats are available. Many of our frequent fliers spend time relaxing in private airline clubs and often times will be last to board the flight. If for whatever reason Mr. First Class does not make the flight, Mr. Exit Row will be taking the seat before you.

3. The injured passenger – Comes on board limping, moaning and groaning as soon as he/she spots me standing at the aircraft door greeting passengers and immediately begins the old bad back and knee routine. There’s no way they’ll be able to endure an entire flight cramped in a coach seat, I’m told, even though they already knew this when they purchased their tickets in coach online months ago. Hey I feel your pain, I know flying is not easy, but that does not equate to a free upgrade. However, if I can find a few extra pillows and blankets (they’re not always on board), I’ll do whatever I can to make your flight more comfortable. Just keep in mind there’s only so much I can do.

4. The inconvenienced passenger – Either their headsets don’t work, the reading light is out, the seat doesn’t recline, I ran out of the beverage of their choice, or there’s a smelly person sitting beside them, whatever it is, and it’s always something, they believe they’re entitled to a first class seat because of the inconvenience. If there’s another seat available in coach, you’re more than welcome to it, but there’s no way I’m moving you from coach to first class when there are seats available. Click here to find out why.

5. The charming passenger – “Wow, what a great smile,” says the passenger who is now squinting at my gold plated name tag pinned to my blue lapel. “So how are you doing today, Heather?” Although this passenger is always nice and polite, my favorite kind of passenger, whenever someone uses my name the alarm in my brain automatically begins to ring – alert, alert, special request coming! Nine times out of ten this passenger works in sales and while they may be successful on the ground, they’re not so successful at 35,000 feet.

6. The ill passenger – I wrote about this passenger in great detail in the Galley Gossip post, The passenger didn’t ask for much. Oh you remember her, the passenger who asked for a first class seat, a business class mug, help to the bathroom, uncooked veggies and potatoes, and then had the nerve to tell me she would be deplaning first, even though she sat in coach. Look, I’m sorry you’re sick and I’ll bring you all the Ginger ale, hot tea, damp towels, and barf bags you need, but just because you don’t feel well does not give you the right to a first class seat, not when you should really be at home, not barfing all over our premium passengers.

7. The surprised passenger – This passenger seems genuinely shocked to learn you have to actually pay for a first class seat. I’ve seen this passenger wander on board and make themselves comfortable in a plush leather seat located in one of the first rows of the airplane, reclining the seat all the way back, propping their feet on the foot rest, and treating themselves to a glass of champagne. “I just thought you might be nice,” a passenger once said after I told her she and her husband could not stow away in first class, not when they paid for a seat in coach. While I am nice, I’m not that nice.

8. The honeymooning passenger – Whenever someone tells me it’s their honeymoon, I know exactly what they want, big time special treatment. And I give it to them. I ask about their wedding and talk to them about where they’re going and I might even make an announcement to congratulate the happy couple. But I don’t move them up to first class. Even when times were good and airlines weren’t furloughing employees and going into bankruptcy every other week, I didn’t upgrade honeymooners just because they decided to take their relationship to the next level and tie the knot.

9 The celebrity passenger – I’m a celebrity get me out of here! is not just a television show, because I’ve actually seen it happen on the airplane. Now I’m not naming names, but years ago I had a very famous singer known for his long blond locks who purchased a seat in coach and then demanded to be upgraded for free because he said he’d be “mobbed” in coach. All I can say is, my how times have changed. Because today I’m pretty sure that the singer who recently broke up with – I better not say – only wishes he could get mobbed in coach.

10. The combination passenger – This is the worst type of passenger, Pulling every trick in the book, this passenger has no shame and will stop at nothing in their quest for a free upgrade. Trust me when I tell you there’s always a multiple number of issues going on here. Like sometimes they’re honeymooning and inconvenienced, while other times they’re injured and also charming. It doesn’t matter what they are, they just are, and I’m the lucky one who gets to hear all about it until the end of the flight.


Ten passengers we love to hate: Day 3 – Baggage claim vultures

We already covered passengers who won’t move to the right on the escalator, and those who bring hot, smelly foods on to the plane. But my personal (non)favorite is those folks who press their shins right up the baggage claim conveyor belt, in the hopes that it might help them spot/claim/get to their bags faster.

People! At the Anchorage airport, there is a bright yellow line painted all the way around and about a foot and a half away from the baggage claim belt. This line is for you: it quite clearly indicates that you should remain at least that far away, so that other people can see and grab their bags.

The last thing I feel like doing after being crammed into a germy metal tube for however many hours is bump shoulders with and act polite to folks crowding around the luggage carousel. When you stand right up against it, not only do I have to crane my neck and hop up and down like a deranged cheerleader in order to spot my luggage, I also have to wade through you and others like you to try to get it. If everyone would just mind the yellow line, then every single person would be able to spot their luggage and not have to body slam accidentally bump into those who hover like vultures.

For more passengers we just love to hate, click here.

10 passengers we love to hate: Day 2 — bringing a warm meal on the plane

Today’s annoying passenger is a tough one – I’d love to hate them more, but their annoying behavior is not entirely their fault.

Still, passengers who think it is cool to bring a huge bag of warm food on the plane are high on my list of airplane pet peeves.

Sure, they are probably hungry, and they need to bring their own food, as the airline won’t be feeding anyone. But many of these passengers bring really smelly food.

I’ve sat next to someone on a 6am flight who thought it would be fine to bring a massive breakfast platter on board. He had the works – eggs, bacon, sausages, hashbrowns and breads. The whole plane smelled of his breakfast, and many of the passengers were clearly annoyed.

Is it that hard to find a less smelly snack that early in the morning? International flights are worse, especially when the airport sells a large variety of really smelly foods. Next time you are waiting in line to order a meal for your flight, first check your watch to see if you have enough time to eat before you board, if not, then order something that is least likely to annoy your fellow passengers. If that is not an option, then you’d better have enough cash to order food for the entire plane.

Read about ALL the passengers we love to hate.