How To Guarantee A Great Flight

April 27, 2010

in Flying Hell Commentary

Okay, you can’t, and that’s my point. I have learned, over the years, a simple, basic fact that really helps me to have a decent flying experience no matter what actually happens on the flight. And that fact is: Flying sucks. The seats suck. The other people are likely to suck. The food, if it exists, will most definitely suck. And no matter how well-washed the other passengers and crew may be, all airplanes smell like eggy farts.

Once you accept this–no, you have to embrace it–you will begin to lower your standards. You won’t expect things to go well. You will, in fact, collect a supply of lost luggage forms so that you can fill them out in advance of each flight. You will squirt a supply of Oust odor neutralizer into a TSA approved bottle so that you can spritz it at will… or at your seatmate, if necessary. You will stock up on beef jerky from Trader Joe’s and stash it in your carry on so that you will have something to keep you from going into a coma while sitting on a tarmac for 8 hours in Newark waiting to depart. You will invest in Bose noise cancelling earphones. They don’t actually cancel noise, but they do blunt it and can also, when carefully combined with a newspaper, help you create your own personal “do not disturb” bubble.

But even more important than the physical preparation for your flight is the mental attitude. You should expect every possible thing to go hopelessly wrong. Yes, your luggage will be lost. And if it doesn’t, a TSA employee will almost certainly handle your intimate garments while searching for plastic explosives. You won’t leave on time. You won’t land on time. You will have a crying baby or obnoxiously drunk or smelly person on your flight. Deal with it.

I really don’t understand why people expect flying to be pleasant and then seem surprised when something goes wrong. You really should look at your chances of having a pleasant flight as equivalent to your chances of winning the lottery. And if, by some miracle, things really do go well, you’ll live on the thrill of it for weeks.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Love It! April 27, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I'm sorry, that is way to much common sense for me. Please exit to the left 😉


Peace Lover April 27, 2010 at 10:28 pm

I wouldn't say it is near impossible to have a pleasent flight. I've been flying for years and almost all of the time my flights have been perfect and rather relaxing and they were all in coach.


Hugh April 27, 2010 at 11:20 pm

I agree with the poster. Flying has become a necessary evil. I typically have low expectations, and the flights typically live up to them. Sometimes things go well, and sometimes worse than expected. I thinks that's why I don't post any stories here, because pretty much all flights are hell in one way or another.

I think Peace Lover has smoked a bit too much dope. His spelling and grammar appear to suffer from it, and his statement about flights being perfect and relaxing is about the most assinine thing I have heard in a very long time. Silly Hippie!


the logger April 28, 2010 at 1:25 am

Flying is kinda like going to Mal-Wart.

Its where you go to see morbidly obese women in lycra beat their children.

It's where you go to smell the worst stink that could possibly emenate from a human orifice.

And it's where you go to see how good we are at turning our children into chimpanzees.


MM April 28, 2010 at 4:19 am

Great post!

You've got to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

When I get on a plane, I hope…

the person next to me is normal-sized, and if fat, that the person has bought two seats

there are no babies near me

to avoid smelly people

there's a PTV with a good selection

the person in front of me doesn't put their seat back

Most of these can be prepared for by bringing a book and enough money for some of Jack Daniel's finest Tennessee whiskey.


Dave K April 28, 2010 at 5:28 am

I only fly to China. There are always tons of crying babies, crazy Chinese people who don't understand the "rules" of flying, and the hours stuck in the air are insane. You know this when you book the ticket and pray for the best.


Patty April 28, 2010 at 5:52 am


It's so true. I don't fly very often, but when I do, I always expect the worst. If I happen to meet a flight attendent who's pleasant, a seatmate who will do their own thing and beverage service….I'm in hog heaven!


Applekornkid April 28, 2010 at 9:29 am

All very true points. Don't expect much and you won't be dissapointed is my motto. As for the smell, I like to think of airports and airplanes as an international rainbow of stink.


Aaron April 28, 2010 at 2:33 pm

My wife's family live in another country, so combine that with necessary travel for work and I end up flying 5 or 6 times a year. Not a lot by many people's standards. But enough to have some good flights and some flights from hell. I used to stress out about flying until a friend of mine said he just thinks of planes as buses with wings. From that point on I considered a good flight to be one that left and arrived on time…that's about it. These days if I get where I want to go on the day I planned to get there, I pretty much consider it a good flight. And, I don't stress out nearly as much.


Jim April 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Planes are buses with wings… interesting perspective that you present. Maybe it will help me with my unrealistic expectations.


ps April 28, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Makes sense. Listen, flying today is the same as the bus or subway environment wise and almost cost wise.. Those who yearn for the days of yore don't realize that on a dollar for dollar basis fares are nearly the same as the late 70's… as in under $400 for a r/t from Phx to NY in 1977 and 2010 or $300 and change to Fla. which means inflation wise flights are about a third of what they cost 30 odd years ago in most cases. It's cheaper to live in the basement than in the penthouse. Pay for first class and your paying the equivalent of coach 30 odd years ago.


Jim April 29, 2010 at 6:11 am

While I agree with the post….keep your expectations low, and you won't be so upset or disappointed……it is sad, that our world has come to this.

Customer service sucks. People are rude and unkempt. Few have integrity or manners. The airlines treat their employees like crap. The employees treat the paying customers like crap. The cost to fly is relatively cheap, because of market and demand…which is not sustainable for most airlines to make money. So, perks are few, planes are dirty, employees are frumpy, tired and haggard….AND because of this terrible service and planes, the flying public are UNwillling to pay more for their ticket….so, it is a terrible downward spiral. We will not pay more for this crappy service….but, because we pay so little, the airlines are unable to turn a profit and offer better.

With all of that said…we, the public accept it and move on. What choice do we have? We have to make the best of the situation, accept mediocrity….we have been Wal-Martized! We accept a substandard product and service because we do not want to pay more. Good companies, and airlines producing good products and services go out of business, because they cannnot compete with the low "Wal-mart" fares. So, we are all forced to fly Wal-Mart.

So, we shrug our shoulders and accept it all….we are defeated….Kinda sad


david April 29, 2010 at 11:40 am

I was just reading a article from the yahoo homepage, "10 things airlines wont tell you"

its pretty accurate for the most part and a good quick read


limewire April 29, 2010 at 8:14 pm

lol nice info man.


Laura May 6, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I do not envy those of you living in the United States.

I am living and working in Japan and sometimes fly domestically.

If a flight attendant doesn't bow to me as I exit the plane, I am shocked. If the plane is 10 minutes late all the passengers start to get agitated. Service is excellent at worst.

Different worlds.


crella May 14, 2010 at 10:11 am

"crazy Chinese people who don’t understand the “rules” of flying"

Uh-huh. There were many on the old NW Kansai-Detroit route. That flight originated in Shanghai, I believe. One woman refused to put down her window shade for the whole flight so she could do Sudoku. She'd put it down when the FA came by, but put it right back up again. Aggravating! Underwear adjustments (and clothing changes), continuous gas expulsion (with accompanying giggling from a 60-year-old guy), severely smelly pickles in tupperware, it was a circus. It was a bus ride. All we needed to complete it was some chickens.


mister O July 25, 2010 at 8:38 am

Flying usually does suck, however if you can fly With Virgin Atlantic then do so, with them I actually had a pleasant flying experience and was

actually disappointed when the trip ended.Usually I can't wait to get off the plane.


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