Is the golden age of travel gone forever?
Are we doomed to deal with flights from hell, or—in the very best-case scenario—tolerable experiences?
Cramped, uncomfortable seats, brusque service, stripped down amenities, and rude passengers are now the norm.
Even shocking displays of aggression and bizarre behavior have become commonplace.
In fact, in the last week alone there have been two separate incidents where passengers have tried to pry open plane doors. One happened while a plane was delayed for two hours on the tarmac at JFK, and the other occurred while a plane was in flight from Puerto Rico to New York City.
But passengers who really feel the need to vent now have an outlet for their frustration. The Web site FlightsFromHell.com allows both travelers and flight attendants to share stories of particularly awful in-flight experiences.
Created a couple of years ago by Gregg Rottler, an environmental health supervisor from Tampa, Florida, FlightsFromHell.com offers categories ranging from odors, to “weird people,” to luggage and delays. The site has obviously filled a need because traffic has jumped a whopping 1,500 percent in the last year alone.
One of the more popular (but distasteful) tales on FlightsFromHell.com is that of “Mr. Poopy Pants,” the details of which we won’t delve into— but we’re sure you can figure it out if you use your imagination.
And it’s not just individual passengers who can make a flight unbearable, but often the route itself. Travel expert Chris Elliott has created his own list of routes to avoid, based on feedback from passengers and flight attendants who’ve had to endure them repeatedly.
At the top of the list is the “snowbird” flight from JFK to West Palm Beach, Florida, which tends to be packed with cranky senior citizens who berate flight attendants for the smallest problems.
Another must-miss flight is Chicago to Orlando, dubbed the “Disney Run,” because it’s often chock full of families—and their bratty offspring—en route to Disney World.
So it should come as no surprise that TripAdvisor, which recently released a survey that asked respondents what they hated most about air travel, found that rude passengers and oblivious parents were two of the biggest gripes shared by travelers.
Further down the “most hated” list are the endless fees that passengers face, for everything from checking bags to checking in. TripAdvisor found that travelers resent these charges, which make them feel like they are being nickel-and-dimed.However, unlike other people’s behavior, airline fees are at least manageable. Passengers are increasingly modifying the way they travel to avoid them, by not checking in bags, or by bringing their own food, for example.
Unfortunately, travelers can’t control how much deodorant their seatmate wears, or prevent that little kid in the next row from lobbing crayons into their seat. So for now it looks like we’ll just have to soldier on— and anonymously vent on the Internet.
By Karen Elowitt for PeterGreenberg.com.
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