People like to complain a lot about flying! The traveling public likes to complain about flying almost as much as Chicagoans like to complain about the weather.
Many complaints are legit. However, I believe there is an underlying cause to the overall situation. It comes down to the fact that we are giving up control of our lives.
From the moment of booking the flight we are told what to do. We are told when to be at the airport. The amount of luggage and how it is packed is determined by the airline. We are told where we can sit. Most options are beyond our control.
The TSA tells us what and how much we can have of our personal effects. We have to supply the proper identification. We are told what line to get into. We must behave in specified way at security. Failure to behave appropriately can make us miss our flight or even get arrested.
Once through security, we have to follow a maze of signs telling us how to get to our flight. What makes it even worse is that many airports don’t make it clear.
At the gate we are told when and how to board. Once onboard we are told where to put our belongings. “Place your smaller items underneath the seat in front of you.” We are told when we can eat, drink, and even go to the restroom. We are not encouraged to leave our seats. “Don’t block the galleys or congregate near the forward lavatory.”
You must…, please don’t…, federal law requires…, return to your seats…, and more such directives are the way of traveling. When things don’t go as planned, we are given even more directives about what we must do.
By the nature of air travel, we are separated from our belongings. If those belongings are delayed or mishandled, the airlines determine the course of action.
Giving up control of our lives almost completely, willingly, and paying for the privilege only builds resentment. This adds a legitimate expectation of entitlement by the traveler. The levels of entitlement that the airline gives and the passenger expects are often very different.
It isn’t any wonder that travelers melt down like toddlers.