The 13 Things People Hate Most About Air Travel

by SharonKurheg

You can learn a lot about travelers, and what they like and dislike, usually through surveys, observation or other types of studies. Other times, you can learn all you need simply by asking a question on a large forum that has a lot of people on it. That’s exactly what a user named “goneisthelight” did on Reddit. He asked:

What do you hate most about airline travel?

Here are some of the 200+ responses he got in less than 24 hours…

Note: I’ve divided the responses into 13 categories, partially to maintain a little structure, but also to help avoid some of the repetition. Some replies in the same categories are actually replying to the posts directly above them (it’s usually pretty obvious when they are). I’ve also edited words that are less than “family friendly.”

The Airlines

  • The fact that they can oversell tickets. It’s ridiculous; they anticipate no shows so to make more money they sell extra tickets, I went on a flight once where 15+ people were ushered aside because they oversold, and all they got was a voucher for a hotel and were told they can catch the next flight in 3 days.

The Airport

  • When they suddenly change gates and they’re far apart from each other, by the time you get there is last call if you lucky (here’s why gates change sometimes).
  • The morons who feel the need to stand 1meter away from the luggage belt waiting for their luggage so everyone has to cram near it to see anything and there’s no space to retrieve your luggage. If everyone stood 5meter away we would all have a better view, we could get our bags without risking hitting people, and it would be so much better. But Bobby had to stand right next to it so everyone does the same.
  • The endless hours whiled away in the departure lounge. 3 hours check in time my a**.

Boarding/Leaving the plane

  • Our first class passengers can now board.
    Our diamond-platinum member passengers can now board.
    Our platinum-rhodium member passengers can now board.
    Our mercury member passengers can now board.
    Our bronze member passengers can now board.
    Our slightly dented aluminum member passengers can now board.
    And now the rest of you plebes can now board, but you can bet even though we have assigned seating (that you paid extra for), there will be no overhead space, and somehow the aisle will still be crowded and they will be making useless announcements about sitting down and clearing the aisle.
    Sit back and relax, and enjoy the flight
  • Having to walk through business class to find my seat in steerage class
  • People who start queuing to board the flight 20 minutes before the gates actually open. We could all be sitting down comfortably, but because some people want to be the first, everyone has to chose between board last or stand for half an hour. The SAME result could be had if people only moved to the line when the gates open, but everyone thinks they are smart queue in 1 min earlier, and long story long we now stand half an hour before the gate opens.
  • People who rush to stand, grab their overhead bags and try to be first in line to exit. We’re not leaving this plane before at least 10 minutes. We could all sit but you’re trying to get a 5-second edge and make the 10 minutes insufferable for all.

Delays & the time everything takes

  • Delays. They can f**k EVERYTHING up.
  • I hate everything about flying but delays are the absolute worst. If you have a layover they completely ruin your travel plans. Even if you don’t it means you’re not getting where you want to go when you wanted to go. Delays instantly jack my anxiety up to 10 since I hate feeling trapped. Not to forget you might lose your luggage due to the layover and if they’re bad enough you’ll have to pay for an extra night of hotel stay wherever you are.
  • When a full flight plane backs out onto the tarmac, then sits there for long periods of time while some unspecified issue is resolved. Meanwhile, passengers are told not to leave their seats or to use the lavatories – they’re just held there like “captives.”
  • The amount of time waiting around. I don’t mind the actual flying part, it’s the rest that annoys me. The queue for baggage checking, for security, for waiting to board, waiting your turn for take off, collecting your bag, going through passport control.

Fear of flying (these people need to read this)

  • The overwhelming fear of dying despite knowing the unlikeliness of being in a plane crash
  • The take off and landing parts.
  • Whether the plane will crash or not. Something that absolutely concerns me to death.

Lack of space in plane interior

  • Lack of leg room
  • I’m a big guy (6’6 270lbs) with huge shoulders and long legs. I can’t fit in a damn airplane seat no matter what. The headrest that hits most people in the head or neck hits me in the shoulder blades. Whoever sits in front of me can’t recline their seatback because of my knees jammed into the back of the seat. I have to sit with my shoulders at an angle to not go into the seat next to me…
  • The cramped quarters. I can deal with being uncomfortable pretty easily after being enlisted for 14 years but flying 14 hours nonstop while cramped up like that to Korea was horrible. I didn’t even take a midtour break while I was stationed there because I dreaded that flight so much.
  • The lack of space as a tall human.
  • The problem for short people is worse because the seat is not designed for them.
  • That I’m 6’2″. Airliners couldn’t give less of a s**t about people like me.
  • I’m thin and average height. It’s still cramped.
  • My husband is 6’2″ and I’m 5’11”. The one non-horrifying thing about traveling with our toddler is that we can put him in the middle of us and have a bit of extra room.
  • My brother is 6’8″ and he basically doesn’t travel anything other than first class at this point.


  • People clapping when the plane lands (here’s why they do it).
  • how dehumanizing the entire process is.
  • Hate? Do you seriously not like being crammed in a noisy metal tube with other possibly unhygienic disease carrying people while eating crap food?
  • The fact that I have to acknowledge that I will be stuck in a container filled with germs and dry air with no wiggle room for hours while being completely aware of the fact that I cannot sleep in an upright position no matter how hard I try. It pretty much turns me into an anxious, grumpy a**hole
  • The damn cost
  • the free WiFi doesn’t work
  • Not much. Once I’m actually on the plane, I’m good, aside from when my ears pop. It once happened where they didn’t unpop for a day and a half, and I had a killer headache, even though the flight was an only about an hour and a half.
  • Using the toilet inside the Airplane… It is crammed, shaky and gets very dirty on a long flight.
  • Getting seated next to the toilet is annoying as well. You constantly have people waiting in line next to you…

The overhead space

  • A**holes with more than the allotted number of carry on items that use up so much overhead space.
  • Blame the airlines for charging so much for a single checked in bag
  • People in the back of the plane who put their s**t in the overhead bins in the front of the plane and f**k up the storage situation for everybody else.

People who recline

  • The worst part is when someone who’s also in economy class puts their seat back
  • I hate when they do that and I’m trying to watch my movie and suddenly my knees are in pain and I can’t see the screen anymore
  • Or when you’re sleeping on the tray and they hit your head with the seat
  • I sincerely hate it. If they gave me a bit of warning that would be great, but usually they just fling it back and couldn’t give a crap. Someone once hit me in the face with their seat when they cracked it back and someone else nearly crushed my iPad when I had it on the tray and was trying to watch a film

People in your row

  • Wondering who I am going to be seated next to.
  • People who talk to you but don’t take the hint that you want to be left alone for the rest of the flight. I don’t mind having a conversation, but when the plane doors close and we’re taking off, leave me alone unless you have a pressing matter, like needing to get up to go to the lavatory.
  • sitting next to people that have no concept of personal space and nudge you all the time whenever they’re doing something
  • Dealing with sick people. On a flight home from France I had the misfortune to be sat next to this one person who was sniffling constantly, not covering their mouth when they sneezed or coughed and wiping their nose with their hands when there were napkins available. I had just gotten over a cold and was in no mood to get another one. More to the point, my dad was in the seat behind them, and he’s got multiple myeloma Yes, he wears a mask around people. In his condition, one sneeze could make him sick and potentially kill him. That was a long 7 1/2 hours.

Seating set up

  • Sitting in the middle seat.
  • If you are a bigger person (I’m frickin huge) window seat is a crap shoot. If you actually get a window, you are somewhat comfy, but if you get an awkward between-windows one, you lose all your shoulder space on one side. Aisle seat means getting battered with luggage and drink carts for different portions of the flight.
  • Being confined to a seat for that long, and it’s not configured in a way where it’s easy to stand up and stretch. The only place to do that is in the galley area.


  • The TSA. Everything about the TSA sucks. Their false sense of added security, the need to take off your shoes because of a single damn shoe bomber a decade ago, the need to xray your junk, the long lines, the “randomized” checks. It’s all useless theatrics.
  • Border control, security check
  • That you can’t bring water with you, so you have to buy water for more than $5 on the plane.
  • Inconsistencies. TSA sets a standard but lets people through at some airports and not at others.
  • How stressful going through security is. You have to remember a million things, take everything out of pockets, take off shoes, belt, hoodie, laptop… You can’t hold it all in your hands in the queue, but if you do it at the x-ray machine everyone hates you for being slow. And at the end of it all you forget something, or you’re pulled aside for random check-up, or there’s something suspicious in your luggage.


  • turbulence puts us all to the test
  • Absolutely. I was on a pretty turbulent flight somewhere and I was starting to wonder if it would be my last
  • Next time you find yourself in some particularly turbulent air, just tell yourself a plane has never crashed due to turbulence.
  • Unfortunately, planes have done so. Technically it was not turbulence but it was a cause.
  • Turbulence is just a bumpy road in the sky 🙂 This has helped me a lot with anxiety while flying recently. That and Valium.

My Very Unscientific Analysis Of The Above Data

The biggest pet peeve seems to be the lack of space once you’re on the plane. Not enough legroom. Not enough room to move around. And if you’re tall or a passenger of size (here are the airlines’ current policies regarding the latter) forget it – you’re at a major disadvantage.

The TSA and turbulence seem to be two other major factors of making people unhappy before/during air travel. There are lots of probable reasons why so many TSA officers are rude and irritating. As for turbulence, well, it is what it is; we can’t do much to stop it. But there are some definite ways to NOT handle it.

Finally, there were lots of comments that were about fellow travelers, especially when they were being jerks. As a final reminder, if you’re flying, here’s how to not be THAT guy/gal/airline/airport.

Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.
Want to sponsor a post, write something for Your Mileage May Vary or put ads on our site? Click here for more info.

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and sign up to get emailed notifications of when we post.

Whether you’ve read our articles before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Christian September 20, 2019 - 1:24 pm

That’s a lot to hate. Sadly, there’s a lot of good points there but as an unusually large and tall guy, personal space and above all legroom are the roughest things. Slimline seats get an honorable mention, though. I think that any airline executive whose planes have slimline seats should be required to have those exact economy seats as their desk chairs. Then they could wax poetic about how wonderful these seats are to anyone who’ll listen without looking like a hypocritical weasel.

Kris October 6, 2019 - 6:10 am

Bring an empty bottle (empty plastic water bottle, canteen, etc) then fill up after security at a water fountain

zeno July 21, 2022 - 2:46 pm

It is really a shame that I have to agree with everything you said.
Used to love aviation, used to love airports and flying. Even worked in aviation industry for some time. Now i really and absolutely hate it. I even removed the company i used to work for from my cv.

My stress level goes up even when I need to buy the plane ticket – all those little hidden costs at every single damn click. And by the time you are finally at checkout, your price is at least 4 times higher then when you started. Thanks ryanair for that, they invented it and then everybody else just copied it. So yes, thank you again.

You pretty much covered all the rest …

Gem June 5, 2023 - 7:53 am

Pretty sure you left at least 6 levels out of that boarding process.
Fortunately that particular insanity exists only in the USA and I live in Europe, where it’s generally by 3-6 groups depending on the size of the plane.


Leave a Comment