Things that annoy: a rant  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , ,

I’m not certain what I find most annoying—the fact that certain things annoy me, or that they annoy me every time they occur. I’m also not certain what happens to you when you are annoyed; when I am annoyed what happens is an inner rant.

Annoyance: I dislike airline travel. The tight fit, the uncomfortable seats, the teeny packets of peanuts, being herded like cattle, the seedy, worn appearance of most passenger jets, and most of all—here is the annoyance—passengers who will not check their luggage. The cover of the April 16, 2012 issue of The New Yorker—a brilliant depiction of a scene that, no matter how small you believe government should be, should be outlawed. Out. Lawed. (The rant has begun.)

Inner rant: I’ve heard people say they will not check luggage because the airlines now charge for each bag. That is annoying, I agree, but if you can afford to fly at all you can afford the added luggage fee. It’s part of the cost. Budget for it. If you really can’t afford it, stay home. I’ve heard other people claim they will not check luggage because luggage is sometimes lost. True enough, and more than annoying, but that is merely part of the inconvenience of travel, which is, you should remember, a choice. If you are going to travel, you will need to take your chances like the rest of us. Besides, it doesn’t happen all that often. The reason I’ve heard most often, however, are people saying they will not check their luggage because it saves them time. Of all the excuses I’ve heard, this is the one that is the most annoying. I have no doubt that you save time by not checking luggage. What you must realize is that you steal time from the rest of us while we wait for you to store it all and then wrestle it back out of the overhead bins. Some of us would like to get out of this crowded space, stretch our legs, and stop breathing germ-laden reused air. Some of us desperately need to find a bathroom. Some of us are just annoyed watching you work up a sweat heaving the equivalent of a home closet in and out of a little bin that was designed to hold briefcases and little bags. And some of us don’t like having strangers waste our time and then consider it a smart move.

OK, rant over.

Am I the only one?

I’d love to hear what annoys you, and your rants, even if it is about the unhappy looks you receive from fellow passengers while retrieving 55-gallon oil drums from overhead bins.

This entry was posted at Tuesday, October 09, 2012 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


We lived and worked in another country for several years and domestic flights were often unsafe. I once sat across from a mother who buckled herself in but not her young child. Large purses were held on laps. Small suitcases were rarely under seats. Planes would take off with the fold-out trays down. I once had to help and elderly woman who had no idea how to buckle the seat belt. The overall lack of concern for safety was enraging. Enforcement was minimal.
However, people traveled light so the overhead bin thing wasn't such an issue.

October 9, 2012 at 4:48 PM

One of my chief annoyances is people leaving shopping carts in a parking lot rather than returning them to the proper location. I often mutter to myself about those being the very people who would be the most angry if their car got dented by a runaway cart. and then the pharisee in me comes out as I quote "do unto others as you would have others do unto you."


October 10, 2012 at 4:42 PM

I am irritated by this too (particularly when I can't find a place for my single carry-on bag for my one-night business trip), but I still go to great lengths to save the time and money of checking a bag when I travel. I don't want to lose it, I don't want to pay for it, I don't want to worry about stuff in my bag being stolen by TSA. I find air travel supremely annoying...but I won't give it up, and the "good old days" might not have been as great as remembered.

My reaction to your sentiment is actually similar (in general) to your reaction to the people who complain about the cost of the bag fee: If you choose to travel, and this is such an annoyance, why don't you fly first class? I'm assuming the answer is that the expense is very high. I agree, but if you want air travel to resemble the (in some cases imagined) luxury of early air travel, we have to be willing to pay the percentage of the average American's income it took to fly on a plane in the 60's and 70's. If you want it to be like it was in the 80's, eliminate discount airfare websites and return to for-profit travel agents and booking directly through airlines, and you can pay a smaller percentage of the average American's income relative to the 1960's client, but nothing like what it costs now.

Just since 1995 (inside the window for early internet and the earliest national data I can find), the Bureau of Travel Statistics said that the average national airfare has gone up 25% but I know that the headline CPI has gone up 53%. Even earlier, fares were controlled by regulation, and were fixed by city-pair. For example, a round trip from Cleveland to DC was $75 in 1960 (independent of airline), which is just under $600 ($590 using headline CPI) in today's dollars. A quick scan of says that (if I book today for one month from now) I can make that trip for between $190 and $271 in economy, or between $341 and $594 in first class, depending on when I want to fly during the day (departure time flexibility that was pretty unavailable in 1960).

I guess my point is that you are totally correct that travel is WAY less comfortable than it used to be, but that is because, slowly, over the last 50 years, the lowest-cost US flyer has switched from being a first class flyer to a coach flyer, and you can get it all back if you undo that switch. Unfortunately for me, when/if my family of 6 flies, I'm buying steerage for sure and counting the minutes until we land.

October 10, 2012 at 4:54 PM

I like to take my rant about checked luggage a level higher - to the executives who set extra fees for luggage and snacks whilst bankrupting their companies whilst taking exorbitant bonuses.

I am among those who don't pay the $60-100 extra/RT to put my bag in the overhead bin. But it stresses me out:

Southwest, with it's two free checked bags, must be the answer.

October 12, 2012 at 10:05 PM

Well this is something new and different....
My rant is at the heart of your rant. I detest people who somehow think that their needs are paramount over others. By shoving as much as one possibly can in the overhead bin in the first row, even though you are seated in the last row implies your need to not carry your bag down the aisle is greater than someone's need to have a bag stowed away handy to grab. Moreover, your time and space spent stowing your belongings takes away from others who believe it is the right thing to do to check anything in excess. I pack all my valuables, a change of clothes and whatever toiletries I can in an overhead, and the rest is checked. I am just not that important that I should subject everyone else to my baggage...and there's a deeper message in that sentence.
I get discouraged because I find society selfish and self absorbed. I am a highly sensitive person, (NOT hyper-sensitive) so I notice small and large needs, and I notice my impact on others. Many people seem deficient in this. Many people think the rules don't apply to them. Many people think cigarette butts magically disappear once squished on the ground. Many people at the gym think the 2 minute shower rule applies to everyone but them. Many people circumnavigate systems aimed at fairness, cheating with handicapped placards, pretending their dog is an aide dog...Oh gosh...I could go on and on....
And, my only answer is to be the person I would want to live with. And look to God's beauty.
And...if PW reads these comments...if this brings any peace to you, I once had a very pregnant mother of a toddler tell me she appreciated scattered shopping carts, as she was more likely to find a parking spot near a cart into which she could immediately heft her toddler into.

October 16, 2012 at 11:58 AM

My thanks to all who left comments this time--I don't like the idea of being the only one who at least occasionally is so annoyed that I rant.

It is interesting to me that I can never guess ahead of time how my posts will be received, at least measuring from whether people leave Comments. One person mentioned that perhaps that's because my blog isn't really about one thing, but that's me--interested in just about everything.

One happy note: my dear wife's health is such that we should not fly again, so unless I travel alone at some point, I may not need to board an airplane again. Sweet news. Especially since I enjoy driving, watching the changing landscape go by.

Sadly, though, that will not cure all my annoyances...

October 17, 2012 at 8:36 AM

Sorry I have annoyed you.
My plane just landed and I took down my carry-on from the overhead bin, and my backpack from under my seat. I was in the back of the plane, and waited while 35 rows of people ahead of me got their carry-ons out of the bins.
And as I stood waiting,I was so thankful at how nice and orderly and civilized everyone was. I even commented about this to the passenger next to me.

The story behind this story: I live overseas, in a culture where civic-minded behavior like waiting one's turn doesn't exist. When I fly from that country and the plane lands, people jump up before the seatbelt sign is off and push their way ahead, squeezing past people in the aisles.
Thus, my marvel at the kindness of Americans as they deplane. I didn't mind waiting because no one cuts anyone off.

As for traveling with only carry-on, I am traveling around the states for a month, taking ten flights. Checking a bag on each flight does add up--to the price of three of my one-way tickets. I'm a natural packrat, so I was really thrilled I was able to pack for three different temperature zones in a single carry-on. [My spouse is checking a bag, half of which is filled with thank-you gifts to people who support the ministry we are involved in].

And as I travel around, I am just in awe that so many people can travel back and forth across the country every day. To me it's a miracle that I can fly from Boston to Chicago in a few hours.

Your rant is helpful to me--gives me a different perspective and reminds me that some people see things differently [great for an election year, yes?]

Here's to the glass, whether it be half-full or half-empty [I believe you like yours filled with ale, but fill mine up with some good wine]

p.s. Hope Margie is ok.

October 22, 2012 at 9:33 PM

It is nice to hear different perspectives, and to be reminded how our annoyances really should be handled with care and compassion, even if we'd prefer otherwise. I've often wondered what it would be like to have an unlimited supply of patience. I can not imagine it, or would prefer not to, and so must wait for the restoration when I will remain finite but will not have my fallenness to contend with.

October 23, 2012 at 11:00 AM

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