I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve flown in my life, but no matter what flight I’m on or what airport I’m at, I’ve noticed you always see the same airport/plane phenomenon over and over again…

The Family Who Packed Their Living Room: I’m convinced every family going on vacation owns a collapsible living room that they take out of their luggage while they’re waiting for their plane to board–they take over the entire gate. The rest of us travelers are all sitting uncomfortably, flipping through a magazine like we’re in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, but the Joneses across from us have their patriarch sitting in Archie Bunker’s chair, the wife is watching The Talk on an old school antenna TV, and the kids have every toy they’ve ever owned splayed across the floor.

The Person Wearing Their Destination or Departure Location on their Shirt: I know we all like to get souvenirs, especially clothing items that proudly display how worldly and well-traveled we are. There’s nothing like a t-shirt made in a sweatshop in Indonesia even though it proudly says Sarasota. I don’t like when I’m at the airport and someone’s shirt gives away where someone is going or where they’ve already been. Whatever happened to leaving something to the imagination? I might have imagined an amazing island getaway for you, but that all disappeared when I saw your obnoxious Cincinnati tee.


The Lost Soul in Security: Despite there being no less than five signs leading up to airport security about what you can and cannot have in your luggage, there’s always someone who holds up the line because of semantics. If the sign read “NO GUNS,” they’ll be in an argument with the TSA employee about how a semiautomatic weapon isn’t a gun. When you empty your pockets out into that little bowl, most recently the man in front of me used it for a single dime he had in his pocket. I have to question what kind of person is carrying just one dime–is he saving it for a sodie pop in 1940? I also noticed that if you’re over the age of 75, you’re allowed to keep your shoes on. I guess 75 is the cut off for being able to remove and put on your shoes in a timely manner.

The Person Sitting Next to You Who’s Never Entirely Normal: Maybe it’s just me, but I always end up sitting next to a man eating an unexpected snack on the plane. It’s never just peanuts or cracker jacks (because people eat those at places other than the ball game). I always get the guy eating the biggest bag of peanut M&Ms you’ve ever seen, a whole pineapple, or some Swedish Fish he unnecessarily smuggled through security in his glasses case. People on the plane get judgmental about your reading choices, too. On a recent flight back to Chicago, the dude on my left was very clearly equating my choice to read Cosmopolitan as an indication that I’m sexually adventurous. Sir, just because you glimpsed over and noticed an article has “anal sex” in the title, doesn’t mean that I’m currently engaging in or have ever engaged in anal sex.

The Luggage Wrangler: I hope you never have to walk through the airport behind one of these people. It only happens with luggage that his wheels and a long handle. In theory, you just hold onto the handle and walk, and the luggage should roll behind you without any problems. Yet, I always manage to see someone struggling to drag their mischievous luggage like it’s a eight-week-old puppy tugging on its leash and sniffing other dog’s butts.


The Stereotypical Flight Attendant: It’s great that we live in a society where people are breaking through barriers and proving stereotypes wrong every day; unfortunately, no matter what airline you use, there’s always one flight attendant furthering the stereotype. I commend them all for being so cheerful in face of the daily threat that their office may come spiraling down from 30,000 feet, but no one should ever be that chipper when they’re showing someone how to unbuckle their seatbelt. Not to mention the pageant hair and make-up, I mean really? Maybe if I risked my life at my job every day I’d see it differently.

I know I can’t be the only one partaking in the prime people watching opportunities at the airport. Who have you come across while flying?

49 thoughts on “Airport Anomalies

  1. So, I had a friend who was a flight attendent, and her hair and makeup looked like she was in a pageant even when she had time off and she liked to do mine like that too. She really lived up to it. I think I might be a little too sarcastic for the job…and perhaps you’re a bit too sassy?

    1. I think so. I’d be doing the seatbelt demonstration telling passengers, “listen, if this thing starts goin’ down, this seatbelt isn’t going to save you.”

  2. I’ve never encountered one of these while flying (which of course makes it more possible that I could be one of them) but regarding the person sitting next to you…I once rode on a bus in Zambia. It was supposed to be a luxury coach, but the coach broke down and they sent a replacement bus. You know those buses you always see in African movies with the chicken coops on the roof? One of those. There were chickens inside too. I ended up sitting next to a guy eating deep fried…wait for it…fish heads. In an overloaded non-air-conditioned bus travelling at 25mph, with chickens.

    1. FISH HEADS?! Oh my gosh! Like the chickens aren’t bad enough. I had no idea that really happened over there. That puts all of my airport experiences to shame!

      1. Luckily not a daily thing, and rural Zambia is a far cry from anywhere in South Africa. (Over here you have to pay big bucks to experience that sort of thing.)

  3. I was the family that packed their living room on my first trip to Hawaii. It had like 5 suitcases plus stroller and baby seat, while my wife had 4 plus the girl. We might as well have just packed her in the suitcase.

  4. Saw a couple in an airport with matching (always a mistake) t-shirts that said “I was in Miami, bitch”.

    Yeah. Didn’t pick up any class while you were there, did you?

  5. Ok, so one time, while waiting for my luggage to appear on the baggage carousel (and getting dizzy watching it spin round and round), this family (a mom, a dad, and two kidlets) came by to pick up their grandma and her luggage. It was the middle of the day, the dad was wearing white sweat pants and no underwear (apparently) and had the biggest boner ever.

    I often look back on that day and wonder what it was that gave him the boner: short term parking? the baggage carousel? Grandma?

    1. HA!!!! Oh, the things men endure…

      Who knew the baggage claim could be such a turn on. All that luggage just laying there… I could see the appeal. (Kidding.)

  6. My flight pet peeve is sitting next to the guy who takes the arm rest over for the entire flight. Really you can’t use your edge and let me use my edge? No please, don’t bother for me, I’ll just sit with my arms crossed for 5 hours. Of course, this just pushes my boobs together for a nice cleavage shot so maybe they are being diabolical!

    1. I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT. Though, it would take a helluva lot of arm crossing to give me significant cleavage, so I’m sure in my case it’s just people being greedy. I can’t ever remember being annoyed by that on the plane, but the movie theater is another story.

  7. I once got on a plane, had sat down and was waiting patiently for the spectacularly entertaining safety demonstration, the highlight of my trip, to begin. Imagine my surprise when, instead of the much-anticipated, regulation monotone, the captain (for some reason) decided to play the audio from a documentary about Dawn Fraser.

    The best part was the fact that the crew were just left there awkwardly holding their tiny demonstration seatbelts, each trying hard to keep a straight face (some unsuccessfully), for what seemed like quite a while before the real safety demonstration began.

    1. Dawn Fraser? Who’s that? (I could easily Google, but I’m guessing your explanation would be more entertaining.)

      I got the security demonstration. My favorite part is the oxygen masks. The flight attendant I had coming home should win an Emmy for that performance. She really conveyed the shock and desperation of applying an oxygen mask.

      1. I have no idea. Let me google this…

        She’s an Australian ex-Olympic swimmer. Won many medals. Grandson is apparently names Snes (after the game console?). I’m not sure that that’s particularly entertaining, but there you go.

      2. Oh, I thought this was a joke everyone knew that I should be in on or something. Now that I know an ex-Olympic swimmer used the name “Snes,” I’ll have to take it off my potential future baby names list.

  8. I travel a lot and you’ve probably seen my type. I’m the who only has backpack. Not one of those huge hiking ones. Nope. Too much. A normal 33L backpack that he can live off of through EVERYTHING that get tossed at him. Also, I’m that guy who falls asleep before the plane takes off and doesn’t wake up until it lands.

    1. I can’t imagine fitting everything into one bag. When I went to St. Louis it was fine because I only needed one change of clothes, and since it was for work fashion wasn’t a big consideration, but normally I have a bunch of bags.

      Also, is it weird you know how many liters would fit in your backpack?

      1. You have to have multi-purpose clothing and know how to pack.
        … I thought everyone knew their liters heh. I just know cause of the tag and when I looked for one I was specifically looking for one under 35liters.

      2. Yeah, it’s tough for women though. Typically our clothes are either pretty but not appropriate for bending over or breathing, or sweatpants.

  9. I had this conversation (or lack thereof) on a plane today. My laptop open, ear buds in, and video playing.

    Him: what are you watching?
    Me: Mad Men
    Him: I love that show.
    Me: (polite smile)
    Him: What episode are you at? Blah blah blah…

    Fortunately, ignoring him worked. Otherwise, I would have had to squeeze his head.

    1. Squeeze his head? LMFAO! Maybe because it’s so early, but I’m laughing hysterically at that. What does that even mean?!

      I was lucky this time–no real conversations whatsoever.

  10. Ahh, I’ve just finished recapping my own recent travel — you hit so many great points! My biggest annoyance is anyone who has to be told, separate from the 14 intercom announcements, to turn their phone off. If you can’t follow the rules, at least be smart about it and take your earbuds out! Sheesh.

    1. Yes! Speaking of announcements, how about when you’re still waiting at the gate, and there’s four different airport employees talking over each other and you can tell if they’re boarding your group or the business class.

  11. Okay…guilty confession time from Kitt. I have advertised where I’m going/where I’ve been…but usually only if it’s Dallas…and only because I’m usually wearing a jersey. Of course that’s also because I’m usually there to see a game. 😡 I’d say I’m sorry, but we’d both know I’d be lying. 😉

    1. Well, okay, for a sports-related function, you get a pass. But if you’re wearing one of those t-shirts that says “Somebody in Atlantic City loves me” you’re doing it wrong.

  12. I have seen all these folks. Also the ones who have not been aware of the changes in the way it is to fly today. No… we have no blankets, No… we have no pillows. No… there are no free items. Please have a seat and take a big cup of shut the f*ck up.

    1. Seriously! “What happened to the peanuts?” Well, people with serious peanut allergies happened. Also, we collectively realized this isn’t a baseball game, so accept your tiny shot of water or pop, and don’t make a scene.

  13. Airports are the worst and airport people are usually terrible. Because I often travel on my own (actually make that always) I am inevitably sat next to other lone travellers. Some of whom should be paying for two seats instead of encroaching on mine.

    1. Oh gross. There’s nothing worse than resting any part of your body against someone else’s when you’re on transportation of any kind.

  14. It’s bad enough that the seats are so compact and close to each other that passengers have to be shoehorned into them but the worst is when the person next to you keeps nodding off and their head plops into your face-space! Yikes. Pop a No-Doz, bro! I mean, we all lean a bit to the side as the plane circles back around to hopefully line up with the runway but I do my best to stay in my designated space. No limb or appendage of mine ever crosses the armrest border in any way. I wish other passengers felt the same! Great post, Katie. Don’t get me started on the passengers that don’t engage in proper hygiene, lol. If you’ll pardon me a moment of shameless self-promotion, you can check out my less-than-joyous traveling experiences here: http://antsrants.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/travelogue-2010/

  15. On our last trip, boyfriend did a different thing wrong at each of our 4 security checkpoints. Bahamian security doesn’t think it’s funny when you leave an entire bottle of Coke in your backpack. Chicago doesn’t think it’s funny when you leave $1000 in change in your cargo shorts pockets.

  16. “Travel light” is a cliche fr a reason. My family and I have done the living room thing a few times and it sucks. Okay we weren’t as sprawled as you describe, but lugging around computers, games consoles and everything else is such a nightmare. Next time I move country I’m selling just about everything and rebuying when I arrive if I still need the stuff!

    They don’t ask the over 75’s to take off their shoes? Pfft, that’s like asking for an 80 year old terrorist to try a shoe bomb! You’d think they’d be more up for it too, being closer to the end and all. Ah well, I’m sure the TSA know what they’re doing.

    I love air ports when I’m travelling light, not so much with a lot of luggage!


    1. I cannot even imagine moving to another country, or even another state, moving all of my shit. I guess I won’t be moving that far.

      HA! I was thinking that, too, about the 80 year olds. That’s ageism! We shouldn’t assume once you’re over 75 you’re over your potential-terrorist stage of life.

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