The first annual “Top 10 Airline Pet Peeves”

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For years I have been providing you with my top 10 hotel pet peeves. People keep asking me to add my airline pet peeves, so here you go. Several weeks ago I ask our 90,000+ readers to give me their biggest pet peeves and here are the winners. This will be the first installment of my airline pet peeves. Please let me know what you agree with, what I missed, or what bothers you the most.

Airline pet peeve #1 – Baggage fees

Airlines are more profitable today than they have ever been, and part of the reason is the introduction of ancillary fees. Airlines have added more and more fees for things that used to be included as part of your ticket. The worst of these is a baggage fee. Believe it or not, you can actually check on two bags and in some cases pay more for your baggage fees than the cost of your airline ticket. WOW!


Airline pet peeve #2 – No legroom

It’s no surprise that airlines have been removing legroom over the past few years to make bigger profits. What may surprise people is how much it has changed. In the 1970s the average width of a seat was more than 18 inches and the average pitch (the distance from the front of one seat to the front of the next) was 35 inches. With the average American getting taller and wider, you’d think those numbers would have grown, but it’s the opposite. The average width of a seat today is only 16.5 inches (loss of 1.5 inches) and the pitch has shrunk to 31 inches on most planes (a loss of 3 inches). Basically the airlines have added two more rows on an airplane to sell 12 more seats.


Airline pet peeve #3 – Why is boarding so difficult?

Whether it’s the boarding class system of the major airlines or the cattle-call system of Southwest, boarding always seems to take three times as long as it needs to. Why have the airlines not invested in research to make this a faster, more efficient process so travelers do not feel the anxiety of wondering if they will be able to bring their carry on or stand up multiple times to let people into the rows?

Airline pet peeve #4 – Plane cleanliness 

This should be a major focus of every airline, but it seems to be overlooked by most. Cramming 150 people into a metal tube that hasn’t been cleaned properly is a sanitary and safety concern. Build 20 more minutes into each turn-around and make sure the plane is clean for the next batch of travelers.


Airline pet peeve #5 – Change fees

The 21st century moves at an amazing pace. People, technology and innovation are continually evolving and improving yet the airlines still feel the need to charge $200 (at least) to change any little piece of your flight itinerary. It would take 3 minutes for one of their employees to make the change, yet airlines continue to be greedy and charge for quick fixes. Here’s an idea: let the traveler change it online himself/herself for free. Three cheers for Southwest who does not charge a change fee.

Airline pet peeve #6 – They can never get the temperature right

One of our readers Chris wrote in to tell us on a recent flight from LIS-EWR, the plane was absolutely freezing with many of the travelers shivering with no way to warm up. Another reader, Christy, writes that she often bakes while waiting on the runway in PHX. It’s 2019! Why can’t the airlines find a way to keep the airplane at a comfortable temperature? If you are going to choose a temperature the airlines you should always keep the plane a little cooler as you can always pull on additional clothing. If the plane is hot there is nothing you can do but sweat.

Airline pet peeve #7 – CRJ-200 aircraft

This entry actually comes from Erik, here in Lincoln. In the survey sent out two weeks ago, I asked for pet peeves I may have overlooked, and Erik picked a great one. Lincoln has a smaller airport and primarily uses tiny regional planes such as the 50 pax CRJ-200. These tiny planes should be retired for good. If you have a window seat and you are over 6 feet tall your neck will be permanently bent when you get off the plane. Maybe I could put in a disability claim after flying on these small tubes.


Airline pet peeve #8
 – Animals on board that are not service animals

Our reader Sonya from Maryville asked why she’s not allowed to have peanuts on a plane due to allergies, but people can purchase a “service animal” vest and bring an animal aboard who is clearly not trained to be a service animal causing her eyes to swell and throat to be scratchy. I agree that airlines need to crack down on service animals and require ample proof of training before allowing an animal onboard.


Airline pet peeve #9 – Loyalty programs are becoming useless

In the golden age of aviation, travelers picked an airline and stuck with it. Each airline would reward their travelers handsomely for their loyalty. Nowadays, unless you live in a major hub, the benefits of airline loyalty are nearly non-existent. With most airlines moving to a “dynamic” award system, the cost for most flights will never be reached by the casual traveler. The best value is investing in a credit card program to be able to move your points and miles to dozens of airlines and hotels when needed.

Airline pet peeve #10 – Reclining seats  

Reclining seats was the most mentioned pet peeve our readers had when surveyed. Dozens of travelers felt that reclining seats (paired with the shortened legroom) led to the worst flying experience, with two commenters saying that non-reclining seats were their pet peeve. With the reduced pitch in the seats, this debate is a hot one in the traveling community. What do you think? Is reclining your seat your right since you paid for the seat, or should all seats remain upright at all times? CLICK HERE to give us your opinion.


Airline pet peeves – Honorable Mention 

  1. Confusing pricing – How can the same seats have 8 different prices?
  2. Tiny bathrooms
  3. Always delayed/Missed connections
  4. Food and drink choices on board
  5. Travelers jumping the line when disembarking the plane
  6. Passenger hygiene issues – Should airlines have a hygiene requirement?
  7. Airlines changing your seat without informing you
  8. Entertainment onboard – playing games on the back of my seat
  9. People saving seats on Southwest Airlines
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