5 Ways To Turn Airplane Annoyances Into Opportunities

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Written by: Sharita Gilmore | August 05

We’ve either been there or dreamed about it.

You know, that awesome moment when not only do you have enough money in the bank to fly away for the new few weeks, but you’re getting paid to be there too.

Smiling with pride, you pull out your iPad to commemorate the moment. But of course, right on cue, the restless child behind you starts kicking your seat and the lady to your left strikes up a conversation you definitely don’t want to engage in.

Here are 5 life lessons we can all learn the next time we’re forced to deal with those god-awful, all too common, airplane annoyances:

1. Expect to be uncomfortable in one way or another

It is more than obvious that the seat in front of you is going to be reclined way too far back. Not only is it extremely inconsiderate, but it’s practically unbearable if your flight is more than 45 minutes long. But in the “on chance” that you’re one of the people USA Today described in its recent study, I implore you to remember that going places isn’t about comfort as much as it is progress.

So yes, you are more than welcome to roll your eyes at the blatant disregard for what seems like simple common courtesy and be surprised if you don’t encounter this along your journey. But remember that neither discomfort nor your plane ride will last forever.


2. Teamwork makes the dream work

Who knew that those ridiculous group projects back in college would come in handy on an airplane, but unfortunately fate has allotted you the dreaded middle seat. Of course, both your neighbors have hogged the armrests, leaving you literally and figuratively, restless.

So, the next time you’re sitting beside someone who hasn’t read Business Insider’s 7th etiquette tip, remind yourself that truth be told, you are all stuck in that little row together. All of you might as well agree to work it out as a team.


3. The best networking happens at 35,000 feet

Despite having the obvious, bright colored headphones firmly planted in your ears, she keeps talking. After forcing a couple affirmative head nods, you realize that Chatty Cathy could talk nonstop the entire plane ride, with or without your consent.

Instead of subtly ignoring her or rudely insisting that she shut up, here’s a chance to work on your communication skills. Besides, you may end up working with her sister later on in life, so why not listen to Miss Manner’s tip on this situation: communicate… nicely.


4. Don’t add to the list of testy travelers

Sure, you might not be exactly where you want to be, but like the annoying people who switch seats 3 or 4 times on a flight, it’s sad to see disgruntled people moving from place to place, job to job and friendship to friendship, spreading misery and bitterness. Get a grip!

Life is a journey and journeys imply progress. Embrace the process and be glad that you’re one a flight to somewhere new, whether it’s a literal flight overseas or a figurative flight propelling your forward in life.


5. Don’t be a bystander to the struggles of the overhead bin

I’m not sure if anything feels worse than waiting to get on or off a plane and the line stops moving. Nada, nothing, zilch. One by one, people start to wonder what in the world could be holding the line up. Of course, it’s that one person struggling to get their bag in or out of the overhead bin.

As everyone waits, complains and grumbles, one person seems to magically appear out of nowhere to help the struggling person. The lines starts moving again, everyone gets to their seat, and the plane takes off. Seems simple right?

So the next time you find yourself next to someone struggling (whether they’re on a plane or not) help them out. We will all benefit from it.


Riding on a plane isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Like life, it can be uncomfortable and a little chaotic. But why not decide to rise above the statistics?

Channel your inner Gandhi — be the change you wish to see on the plane.

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Sharita Gilmore

Sharita is an introverted free spirit that prefers reading over talking. Seriously addicted to Earl Grey Tea, you can find her at Teavana when her budget allows for it, or small independent bookstores when it doesn't. A lover of culture, she's more than willing to set her books aside for conversations about the Middle East, Guatemala and Nepal. If she's not traveling overseas, she's writing about it or dreaming about it. She really wishes Rumi was still alive so he and Jhumpa Lahiri could write together. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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