Southeast Asia: Top 5 Passenger Pet Peeves about Air Travel

Airlines and Aviation

Uncomfortable seats and not enough leg room top the passenger pet peeve list according to a TripAdvisor poll of 1,200 travelers in Southeast Asia. Does that mean they would be willing to pay more money for more comfort?

They don’t call it ‘cattle class’ for nothing.

Passengers flying Economy Class have long complained about uncomfortable seats, and insufficient leg room is one of the things that annoys them most.

And what about when the passenger in front of you suddenly and without warning slams the seat backward, hitting you squarely in the knees?

Not a pleasant experience! Some passengers have suggested doing away with reclining seats, but this wasn’t mentioned in the survey.

Insufficient elbow room is another problem – especially at meal time if you’ve been served something that needs to be cut.

And what a nuisance having to deal with all those cups and containers and bowls on that undersized tray!

I’ve never understood why they couldn’t serve something easy to manage such as Chicken McNuggets.

Discount Carriers

Costly airline fees can be an unwelcome  surprise. I once tried booking a flight on a discount carrier for what seemed like a reasonable fare.

By the time all the fees were added on – would you like a seat to go with that reservation? – I decided to book a flight on a legacy carrier instead. It came out to roughly the same amount of money.

And there might have been other hidden ‘surprise’ charges when I got to the airport so I might have actually come out ahead by booking a flight on a legacy carrier.

And here’s a word to the wise: beware fuel surcharges! These are set by the airlines themselves, and some carriers use them to camouflage higher fares.

They advertise a really low fare, but don’t tell you that you’ll be slapped with a really high surcharge! In some cases the out of pocket cost of a higher priced ticket is actually LESS than that of the lower priced ticket.

I know from personal experience!

Airlines can’t get away with this in countries like Australia, Canada, and the United States. But they can get away with it in countries without strong consumer protection laws.

When comparing the price of tickets, ALWAYS make sure to compare the price AFTER taxes, departure fees, and fuel charges have been included.

Flight Delays

I once booked an early morning flight out of San Francisco, which was delayed because of bad weather in another city.

It was very frustrating to see people arriving 30 minutes, one hour, 90 minutes after me getting boarded ahead of me.

I had an international flight connection at LAX. But because it was on another carrier, the airline wouldn’t allow me to board even though there were available seats on some of these flights.

In the end, I made my connection. Fortuately, the flight I was connecting to was delayed, too. Had it departed on time, I would have been out of luck.

And here’s another tip. If you are offered compensation because your flight was cancelled or delayed,  take cash over vouchers – even if the amount is less.

I once made this mistake (and it was on the SAME airline). I took vouchers because the amount was more. But the amount offered was divided into 2 vouchers, and I only found out when I tried to cash them in that they couldn’t be used on the same flight.  

Not only that, they were only valid on full fare tickets – so it would still be cheaper for me to buy a discounted ticket (which I ALWAYS do).

In the end the vouchers were never used! I should have taken cash. A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.

Noisy Children

Of all the possible annoyances that air travelers face, surely noisy and hyper active children would have to at or near the top of the list.

On a recent trip from Hong Kong to Vancouver, I splashed out for Premium Economy. The seats WERE more comfortable and the food WAS better. Overall I thought it was money well spent.

Unfortunately, there were some hyper active and very noisy children on board. And the parents made ZERO effort to calm the kids down.

To be brutally honest, I think the parents were co-conspirators. They were adding to the commotion, treating their section of the cabin as though it were their families’ private playroom.

I’m just thankful that I was sitting across from them rather than in front of them as they kept banging into the seats in front.

Fortunately, on my flight back to Hong Kong, there were no noisy children nearby, and it really did lead to a far more enjoyable flight. I actually fell asleep.

Top 5 Air Travel Complaints

TripAdvisor took a poll of 1,200 travelers in Southeast Asia, asking them what annoyed them most about air travel. Uncomfortable seats topped the list.

Fully 80% of respondents said they would pay extra money for a more comfortable seat on flights of 4 hours or longer. And 48% said they would pay more money to sit in a child free zone.

  • Uncomfortable seats and not enough leg room – 61%
  • Flight delays and flight cancellations – 50%
  • Costly airline fees and ticket prices – 50%
  • Long security lines – 43%
  • Loud or crying children – 42%

O Canada

Launched in 2009, Air Canada’s Preferred Seats programme has proved such a hit that the airline has decided to add additional seats with more leg room on flights within North America.

Standard Economy Class seats offer between 31 and 33 inches (78.74 cm and 83.82 cm) of legroom. The Preferred Seats offer an additional 4 inches, or 10.16 cm, of legroom.

And there’s another advantage: location.

“Most Preferred Seats are located ear the font of the aircraft, enabling customers to disembark more quickly at destination,” says Craig Landry, Vice President of Marketing at Air Canada.

Now if only they could do something about hyper active kids!

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