Friday, March 28, 2014

Fear of Flying: 10 Reasons Commercial Air Travel is Last on my List

It's on again and off again... my love-hate relationship with flying. While I am intrigued with the concept of flight, it is commercial air travel that has my stomach in knots.

I come from a family that loves the air. My mother dreamed of being a woman pilot. But since it was not yet time for most women to fly, she ended up working for the Army Air Corps as a civilian personnel specialist. But her dreams were filled with flying.

My son had always been intrigued with flying. I signed him up for Aerospace Explorers at age 14. We went to air shows, to aerospace facilities and he got his first taste of flying. I have to admit I was as thrilled as he was to see aircraft and spacecraft. He now has his own plane and flies for recreation and for charity work in the Bahamas. 

But I am not flying.

Why? Well, let me count the ways...

1. Thieves: Did you hear about the group of airport staff who were recently arrested for pilfering the suitcases of travelers?
2. Getting Undressed: Did you ever feel like you were disrobing in front of strangers at the airport? I don't like getting dressed before traveling in a nice outfit and then having to undress (shoes, jacket, belt) to go through security.
3. Early Arrivals: There are not many who relish getting to the airport 1-2 hours in advance of a domestic flight.
4. Hurry up and Wait: How many really like waiting in security lines and then having to move it, move it, move it.. Removing your computer from its case, take out any liquids and stuffing your jacket, purse and more into dirty bins to go through the X-ray machines.
5. Lining Up: Enjoy standing in line to board the plane?
6. Bin Hogs: I don't like waiting for the glutton to stuff two huge carry-ons into the overhead bin.
7. Cell Phone Convos: I cringe as I am forced to listen to the most intimate details of a person's life while seated next to them or waiting in line. And now it's being discussed that passengers can talk on the cells in flight? Noooo!
8. Health Concerns: Care about your health? I don't like having to seat myself with strangers, some of whom may be coughing and sneezing. Even if your seat-mate doesn't give you something, the airplane air is drying and makes it much easier to catch something in that crowded airport.
9. Terror in the Skies: Of course we've been watching the news and reflecting on the loss of a huge commercial jet over the Indian Ocean. I don't like to think that we might be in danger of hijacking or pilot diversion.
10. Stormy Weather: Oh yes, and there is the weather. I haven't forgotten turbulence and having to be re-routed because of a dust storm on the ground as we were landing. I haven't forgotten watching the cowlings on the engines ice as we climbed through ice pellets. Yikes!

It is hard being a travel writer who really doesn't want to fly. But being grounded has given me more time to explore the West in detail. Driving back roads, hiking and walking have given me opportunities so see history, culture and natural beauty not otherwise experienced. And I meet wonderful people on my travels instead of stressed out people crowded into an airplane.

There is something freeing about looking up into the sky during a storm and enjoying the clouds, the wind and the rain. With my feet securely on the ground, the weather has become a thing of beauty rather than something to be avoided or feared. 

I don't know when or where I will fly commercially again, but, believe me, it is on the bottom of my travel bucket list!


  1. I agree with all of the negative aspects of air travel that you mention but otherwise I wouldn't have gone to the Maldives this year and had an absolutely wonderful time. It's the only practical way for me to see the world so I endure it. The cost of not going would be too high for me!

  2. I was just talking with my world traveling parents tonight about how bad domestic flying has become. My last 3 trips I had to see "customer service" regarding late or cancelled flights. Gone are the days when airlines tried to assist you when stuff like that happened. I miss those days.

  3. I agree that flying has become quite unpleasant in many ways------the silver lining?-----bad travel days make for fun blog posts.I'm still in the group that will grin (well, maybe not grin exactly, more like grimace) and bear it because it's the cost of getting where I want to go when it's very far away and across an ocean or two.

  4. Flying is always a necessary evil if you want to see the world, but I agree there's also so much to see if you can just go in a car and drive and I love car day trips! Please do share it with us for Travel Photo Mondays, the link is up and will be for the entire week.

  5. You listed everything I despise about flying too. I guess I view it as a necessary evil. Thankfully there are other ways to see the world. I love cruises!

  6. I hate to fly, it's nothing but a necessary evil in my book and I usually have to pop a little happy pill to get through. My fears stem from an unfortunate flying situation in a single-engine plane when I was a kid, so I have a wicked fear of turbulence. I'd love to say I've grown out of it, but not yet. In 2013 we flew from Paris to Washington, D.C. and the young woman next to me was super sick, fortunately she slept most of the way. Unfortunately, my media screen was dead. That's a long flight with no media screen so you can add that to your list! ;)

  7. I can't dispute the points of why air travel sucks. It's hard not to feel like you're in a cattle pen, waiting for the tattoo slapped on your rump! It is a necessary evil and won't change anytime soon. Maybe that's why I love Skydiving so much, you get to leave the plane before it lands.

  8. I had no idea so many people felt as I do!

  9. You are totally correct on all points. I detest being treated like a suspect, sitting in a filthy seat, and eating food that my stomach can't handle. If I had the budget and time, I'd choose a transatlantic cruise every time. Now THAT'S how to travel!

  10. After these comments, I am even more convinced I shall not fly again. I'll treasure my memories from Mexico, Guatemala and Europe. And now, I will walk, drive, sail, etc. to explore my world.

  11. Hi Elizabeth: I dislike flying for the reasons you've mentioned, but I LOVE flying because it gets me places quickly, and I am always short of time when I am away from home. I like my own backyard and region, but I really love learning about new cultures and experiencing all that comes with them (food, music, dance, libations, and laughs.) So I'll grin and bear it and take to the skies anytime the opportunity arises. Cheers!

  12. What's the alternative - 6 weeks on a boat - that's how long it took us to immigrate from UK to NZ when I was a kid - now that's boring - and talk about sickness - both my toddler brother and mother got very, very ill when gastro went around the ship. I got very sea-sick - it was pretty much hell. Plus sharing a tiny cabin for 6 weeks? Economy is heaven in comparison because it's so quick - flying from NZ to LAX soon - 18 hours - only another 5 hours to fly onto to Philadelphia - magic. Oh and way, way cheaper than the boat trip too!