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13 Things that can go wrong when you travel by plane

Anyone that has ever travelled by plane knows what a mission it can be. And frequent flyers know that there are many things that can go wrong…

In fact, considering everything that can go wrong, it is surprising that not more people travel by road, or even hire limousines (with chauffeurs) to get to where they want to be.

Here are 13 things that can go wrong when you travel by plane:

1. Firstly, your taxi could arrive late. If it arrives late enough, you may just miss your flight.

2. Your taxi could get stuck in traffic, causing you to be late – and miss your flight.

3. You can misjudge the time of your arrival – especially if you are not a frequent flyer, or haven’t flown from that specific airport in the past. If you don’t allow yourself enough time to get to where you need to be, you can miss your flight.

4. Busy airports are places where high volumes of people concentrate and pass through. The danger of exposure to a contagious disease (airborne) or a contaminated surface is substantial.

5. If you happen to forget anything in terms of documentation, you will be stuck. In addition to that, if you lose your documentation (identification – such as when your wallet is stolen), you can’t fly until it has been replaced.

6. Airlines have strict rules about what you are allowed to have on board. Anything that happens to be on your person – any item which is not allowed – will be forfeited (or you can go home again if it is valuable).

7. If your baggage is overweight, you will be charged for the additional weight you bring on board.

8. Airlines are notorious for overbooking their flights. Just like insurance companies, they look at the probabilities – in this case they look at the probabilities of people not showing up for their flights. They expect a percentage of people to NOT get on board. If – on your flight – they get the number wrong, you could be out of a seat, and may have to wait for the next flight.

9. Flights can be re-scheduled or delayed – airports are very complex operations. Any number of reasons could cause a flight to be delayed – or even re-scheduled. A storm or heavy cross-winds at an airport hundreds of miles away could necessitate the diversion of flights to your airport, and the additional workload will have a domino effect.

10. Flying can be an unpleasant experience: Food tastes weird (the altitude messes with your mind), many passengers are obnoxious, you can experience turbulence, or you can end up seated next to the toilet.

11. You can end up in the wrong place – if your flight is diverted for any reason (weather, emergency at your destination, problem with the plane, etc.) you can end up very far from where you wanted to go. Fair enough, the airline will help you get back to your destination, but by then you will probably have missed your business meeting or job interview.

12. Inside an airplane, passengers are packed into a relatively small, contained space with limited facilities. As such, there is even more danger of exposure to airborne pathogens – or contaminated surfaces – than at the airport. In addition to that, your exposure to airborne pathogens is prolonged – as opposed to momentary exposure at an airport.

13. Your luggage can go missing, or even be stolen. In fact, in many cases when two flights of the same airline (bound for the same destination) take off right after one another, some of the one aircraft’s luggage can be on the other plane. If that plane is delayed or diverted, you could wait for quite a while before you have your luggage.

Of course, once you depart from the plane, you are once again exposed to everyone and everything at the airport, and you may get stuck in traffic again when you take a taxi to your hotel or meeting place.

Considering all of the above…

Why would anyone choose to fly when they can avoid it? Fair enough, there is a case for long distance trips where driving would be impractical, or intercontinental flights where driving would be impossible.

But when it comes to shorter distances…

It just doesn’t make sense. In fact, more and more businesses are re-evaluating their criteria for choosing between employees and executives flying or driving/being driven.

Note: It is possible to travel – in a luxurious SUV limo – between Edmonton and Calgary at both rates and times comparable to taking a flight, but without all the hassle.

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