We have just returned to the island after a few weeks travelling in Argentina. For those whose geographical knowledge may not be “all that” let me bring you up to speed: Argentina is a BIG country. Like Australia, it’s not actually possible to drive to all the main attractions in a single week. So, if one wants to see “everything” on the list of attractions, one will probably find oneself doing quite a bit of flying from one destination to the next.
This seemed to be a common approach for Argentinian tourism – during our trip, we met fellow travelers who were following a similar itinerary – Buenos Aires & its’ Tango, Patagonia with its’ snow-capped mountains and first-rate hiking, Bariloche & its’ “seven” lakes, Mendoza & its’ wine and finally Iguazu and its’ great, absolutely mind-blowing Falls. However, in order to see all these wonderful sights and varied terrain, it was necessary for us to also take a tour of the country’s domestic airports.
So. We did a lot of flying on this trip. And if the domestic flights weren’t enough, we also took a rather roundabout route to get to Buenos Aires in the first place. Malabo to Frankfurt to Madrid (Frankfurt stop courtesy of Iberia Airlines’ decision to cancel our direct Malabo-Madrid flight) then Madrid to Dallas to Buenos Aires. Yes, to answer your question, we COULD have flown direct from Madrid to Buenos Aires. But due to the husband’s penchant for cheap flights/better aeroplanes/frequent flyer points, we decided to take the long way round.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to fly. Provided there is no turbulence, the seats are comfortable and I’m close enough to the bathroom. But even the most enthusiastic flyer will find a few things to criticize every now and then…
So I compiled a short list. Things that annoy me about flying:
1. Planes Without Seat Pockets
Okay. So this was a constant gripe of mine when taking the Red-Eye on Iberia to Madrid. Let me just say it. What a shitty plane. The husband often remarked on how surprising it was that this plane was allowed to fly internationally. The plane was old, there was no leg room, and whenever there was turbulence I was sure we were going to die. Did I mention there were no TV screens? It’s an international flight people!!! It also had no seat pockets. Seriously? EVERY plane needs a seat pocket. Where else am I going to store my Kindle, magazine, glasses, hand-sanitizer? You can’t keep that loose stuff on the floor. Making passengers keep that shit in the overhead lockers is just inconvenient; particularly if you’re seated on the window. It’s annoying enough to ask others to move just so you can use the bathroom. They definitely don’t want to move just so I can indulge my obsession to disinfect my hands every five minutes. Seat pockets should be a basic feature of all aeroplanes, domestic or otherwise. Obviously.
2. Passengers Failing to Board Quickly
So I’m generally one of the first in line for boarding. I’ve tossed my bag in the overhead locker, and put the rest of my junk in the seat pocket (assuming there is one). Now I’m sitting in my seat watching as some idiot fumbles through their hand luggage searching for some critical item while the rest of the flight stands in the aisle behind waiting patiently but with increasing annoyance, to find their own seats. Newsflash: the appropriate and efficient way to board a plane is to locate your seat, and, either toss your hand luggage into the overhead locker and sit the hell down OR, if you need to do a complete repack (it happens), move into your row and unpack your essentials in your seat, allowing the rest of the plane to continue boarding. Then, when you see a gap in the line, step out into the aisle, finish your repack and lodge your bag overhead swiftly.
But don’t these people get it? By taking your sweet time, you’re delaying the plane taking off. More so if the flight is already delayed. Don’t make it worse. (Note, I haven’t even started on people with oversized hand luggage and the comedic jigsaw that ensues).
3. Pilots Who Don’t Know How to Land a Plane
Then we have the landings. Plane goes up, plane’s gotta come down. Of course, landing a plane is always going to be affected by the weather. Bad weather generally equals pretty bumpy landing. But, the pilot has to take some responsibility. Now, I’m by no means qualified to fly a plane, and all pilots are learners at some stage in their career. But, surely some of this stuff is pretty basic. Come in slow and smooth. Don’t wobble all over the place. Don’t come in at speed so you need to apply the brakes and give all the passengers whiplash. And for fuck’s sake, try and keep that plane straight. Wobbling all over the place or coming in at an angle makes us feel like the wing tip is gonna hit the ground or we’re going to overbalance. And while I’m on landings, could someone please explain to me what is with the random applause? Are people seriously applauding because we didn’t die? Planes landing is a pretty standard thing – it happens every day all over the world – and there’s that old piece of trivia about flying being safer than driving a car. But the applause continues to mystify me time and time again. Why does this happen? On good landings as well as bad ones, short flights and long flights. What can I say? It’s just weird.
Of course, flying is not all bad. As I said, I genuinely do love to fly. And the bad flights always make you appreciate the good ones – the cool different coloured window lights, the decent alcohol service and wine that doesn’t taste like sour wood – and of course the illustrious, fully functioning seat pocket.
But, come on, whingeing is part of the travel experience, right?