7 infuriating situations every holiday traveler will recognize — and how to deal.
Traveling around the holidays can be a slow-moving nightmare. The most important thing to remember amidst the chaos? It's all going to be OK, and you will get where you're going. Honest. Here, then, are 7 of the most infuriating parts of holiday travel — and reasons why you shouldn't panic.
1. A family of six is unloading literally every single thing from their luggage as slow as humanly possible right in front of you on the security line.
Why it's exasperating:
Airport security is the worst, even under ideal conditions. Thankfully, you're a pro. You've done this a million times. You know your system. You wear your shoes you can kick off without untying, and you place your laptop and plastic bag full of liquids on top of everything else in your suitcase so you can take them out right away. It's obvious to you.
Why isn't it obvious to the mom, dad, and four slow-moving, whining, school-aged children who somehow maneuvered themselves directly in front of you? Don't they realize there are eleventy-hundred people behind them in line? Why did they bring five full-size bottles of shampoo? Can't Tabitha put her stuffed dog in the suitcase for twelve seconds? Did they really need to have that fourth kid? Isn't that kind of showing off? How are they even affording this?
Now you're stressed out at the mere idea of having four children in the first place, and it's all their fault.
Why you should remain at peace:
When you think about it, it makes total sense that they're inexperienced at this. Most likely, the reason they so rarely travel is that they know how difficult it is to take the kids on a plane without pissing off everybody in the world. The only reason they're doing so now is because they absolutely have to.
Maybe Dad hasn't been on a plane for so long he didn't know about the liquid thing when he packed the shampoo. Maybe Mom used to travel all the time, and she's frustrated that her system has been disrupted by the presence of children. Maybe she's bitterly recalling how easy it used to be. She's probably picking up on the hostility behind her and not entirely not agreeing with it. Probably at least one of the kids is sick, and making sure medicine is accessible is more important than getting all computers removed from their sleeves in a timely fashion.
Take a deep breath. This is why you knew to get here two hours early. You got this. Remember how you're a pro? You'll get to where your going. You always do. Zen, baby. Zen.
2. The cashier at the Wendy's across from Gate C25 took your order over 20 minutes ago, and your classic double with cheese value meal appears to be nowhere on the horizon.
Why you're probably getting ready chew your own foot off and eat it:
You always come to this Wendy's. This is your airport Wendy's. The whole reason you come here is because it's quick-quick, bang-bang, in-and-out. If you wanted to linger, you'd have stopped at the O'Houlihan's near B6 or, at the very least, the Chili's Too. There's usually never anyone here!
Only now there's a cluster of a thousand people waiting off to the side, all of whom ordered in front of you. How could it possibly take this long to reheat a frozen meat patty in a machine? It's called fast food for a reason. Not only is it fast food, it's fast food in an airport for Chrissakes. Speed is of the essence! People have flights to catch! What is taking so long? Come on, people!
Why, dude, it's honestly OK and you should just chill:
Trust me, if you think it's exasperating waiting what seems like hours for your order, try being the poor teenager behind the counter desperately flailing to keep making food for progressively more aggravated travelers from 6:00 a.m. to midnight.
The winter holiday travel days are some of the busiest days of the year for the airport — and by extension, the airport Wendy's — and they're likely understaffed. You're heading to a nice, four-day vacation, while there's a strong chance the Wendy's workers will have to work not only over the weekend, but on the actual holiday that you're traveling home to celebrate. That really sucks. Especially when they're making barely above the already ridiculously low minimum wage to do it.
You'll be fine. Worst-case scenario? You have to forfeit $8.67 and be hungry for a while longer. You'll have plenty of time over the weekend to overcompensate on calories. Think about pumpkin pie and feel the mellow wash over you like a gooey, orange wave (sorry for the visual).
3. Your flight is cancelled, and of course the line to see the gate agent for rebooking is moving at a glacial pace.
Why you're slowly turning an ever-brighter shade of Looney Tunes red:
Not only does having your flight scratched mess up your carefully arranged napping schedule for the weekend, but now every single person on this flight who is going where you're going has to cram onto the same dwindling number of later flights.
You're 28th on line to see the gate agent to change your ticket, and if you don't get to the front of the line soon, you might not be able to get out tonight and miss that family dinner that's your favorite part of the whole trip.
Why is there just one gate agent working? Why don't they send another? Why doesn't she do her job faster? When you get up there, you're going to give her a piece of your mind. Why doesn't she deserve it? It's her fault for working for such a terrible airline in the first place.
Why it's actually in your best interests to de-steam your ears and de-dagger your eyes:
Literally every single person at this airport has yelled at this gate agent. See? The guy at the front of the line is doing it right now. And another guy is yelling at her from over to the side. So many people are yelling at her it has become her normal. It's actually the reason the line is moving so slow. Instead of problem solving, everyone just wants to vent, and it grinds the process to a halt.
When it's your turn, you're far more likely to get what you want if you treat her like a human being. I know it doesn't seem like it right now, but it will be a huge relief to both you and her, and she'll be much more likely to squeeze you onto the 7:50 to Des Moines or help troubleshoot with some out-of-the-box thinking and fly you somewhere else that's close enough that you can rent a car and drive.
You know this. Resist the dark side! You can do it. (Also, call the airline while you're in line. This is often way faster. You know this already!)
4. Every single passenger crowding the gate as if the plane is going to leave without them if they're not the first one on.
Why it's frustrating beyond all realm of human comprehension:
What marks an inexperienced traveler more than clustering by the gate during the boarding process even though they have at least 20 minutes to board? It's so obvious it's infuriating. Don't they know what noobs they look like?
It's not just aesthetics either! Sure, they look calm now, but when your zone gets called, that seemingly-innocent glob of people is going to react like the Chicago Bears defensive line and close ranks, making it impossible for you to get on line until it's impossibly long. Once you do make it, you'll only be able to wait in a calm, orderly fashion, until the next zone is called and 75 people will somehow expect to shove in ahead of you because they were waiting on what they thought was the line, but clearly wasn't the line. Everyone who is anyone knows it wasn't the line!
And the worst part? You'll be forced to let them in so as not to appear like airport Scrooge. But you sure feel like elbowing them out of the way. And who could blame you?
Why rushing the gate actually makes a ton of sense:
It's not about being the first to sit down (no one, except maybe those in first class, wants more time on the plane), it's about making sure they get their bag in the overhead bin — preferably somewhere near them, or even just at all.
With nearly every airline instituting expensive checked baggage fees, everyone is fighting for the same increasingly limited amount of overhead bin space. It's completely rational behavior if you're not in the elite rank of flyers who happen to be status or credit card-benefitted into Zone 1 or higher. You're probably one of the lucky ones, and that's great. You can take your time. But what they're doing is also in their best interests.
Don't hate the player, as they say...
5. An agent asks you to put your bag in the bag sizer, even though 17 people with bags bigger than yours just got on.
What you are tempted to screamsay:
"No. No, no, no, no. No way. Nope. The whole reason I bought this bag is because it's 'airline approved carry-on size.' Dude, come on! Nothing fits in that sizer. We all know it's designed that way. Dude. Come. On! Dude! What about that guy? He just brought a trombone on board! This is a trick to get more of us to throw up our hands and pay that stupid fee. You know it and I know it, so let's not pretend. That woman right there just snuck by you wheeling a full-on 50-pound bag! Enough! This is petty tyranny and I reject it! I reject it, I say! Is this Communist Russia? It is not! Dude! Come. On!"
What you probably should say instead:
"Yes. OK. I understand, sir. This is your job, and although I disagree with the premise of your employment, I respect that you are being paid to perform said job and will likely be disciplined if you fail to. I shall remove my laptop and book and claim my bag at baggage claim, probably no more than 15 minutes after I otherwise would have left the airport. Have a pleasant weekend. I hope you enjoy a well-earned few days of rest."
6. A fat person is sitting next to you on the plane.
Why it's driving you slowly up the fuselage:
You're in coach, which means you have a seat that is roughly two inches wide by one-inch deep. And this person is encroaching on 1/3 of it or more? What gives them the right! Why do you of all people have to sit next to them when there's a whole plane full of seats you could be sitting in instead? Why should their body take precedence over your comfort? Is there a manager you can complain to? This is outrageous!
Why you should redirect your rage toward more deserving targets:
Speaking as someone who is frequently the fat person in question, let me state for the record that we are just as uncomfortable as you, if not more so — and definitely 1,000,000% more mortified. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 70% of Americans weigh more than what is considered "normal" weight. Which means "normal" weight ... isn't actually so normal anymore.
And yet, airline seats continue to get smaller as airlines attempt to maximize profits at the expense of passenger comfort. In an ideal world, we'd all have, I don't know, human-size seats? Seats that more closely reflect the American body these days? But sadly, we don't live in that world, and just like you, we have to sit somewhere. Two to six hours from now, you can have all the personal space you so desire. For now, feel free to watch "Bridge of Spies" over our shoulder.
7. The person in the middle seat is snoring as loud as humanly possible.
Why this is fully the worst of all the available universes:
A little bit of snoring? Fine. You can live with that. It happens. But this? This is a full-on, tractor-trailer backfiring, chalkboard-scratching, deafening demon wail direct from the maw of Hades. You try to listen to music to drown it out, but the only music you have loaded on your work laptop is that Rascal Flatts album your boss gave you for last year's Secret Santa. You now have to decide whether to listen to jackhammer-level snoring or Rascal Flatts — a choice no human being should ever be forced to make.
You are in hell with no relief in sight. Not even a free can of Canada Dry ginger ale can numb the pain.
Why it's actually not so bad:
I've got nothing, actually. This is horrible. It is your God-given right as an American to be mad about this. Poke him in the ribs and wake him up, maybe. Pretend it was turbulence.
Good luck getting home! And happy holidays.