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14 Huge Disadvantages of Traveling by Plane

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You’ve probably experienced quite a few journeys as a plane passenger. I certainly did. While flying is definitely the fastest, most efficient way to move around the world, there’s also a comprehensive list of downsides to it.

For instance, long-haul flights can be especially challenging. And this doesn’t mean that from now on, we’re boycotting flying altogether and going back to the old ways of traveling that might last, well, way too long. But I think it’s still important to be aware of the downsides, so you can efficiently assess whether or not, for some of your vacations, traveling by plane is the right way to go.

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Going through security

Let’s face it, nobody really likes going through security, it’s just something that we passengers need to go through in order to enjoy the benefits of flying. A big part of the problem revolves around standing around long lines.

I’ve had plenty of occasions where going through the security screening has taken virtually as long as the flight itself. While I understand why it’s necessary, having some stranger in a uniform pick through your personal possessions for bombs and other forbidden items is definitely far from fun, not to mention the pat down.

cramped economy flights

Unless you are lucky enough to be able to afford first-class or even business travel, then you will probably be stuck in the economy. Naturally, the price deals can be wonderful, but the conditions are often quite uncomfortable, especially on long-haul flights.

I’ve crossed the Atlantic quite a few times, and it never gets easier. The overall lack of legroom, tiny eating space, and having to squeeze past other passengers every time you visit the restroom fills me with dread just thinking about it.

The food

In-flight food has quite a reputation for being poor in quality, and that’s deservedly so, at least in my experience. To be completely honest, making fine cuisine is not so easy in confined conditions at 36,000 feet, but even so, the end result is often disappointing, if not downright gross.

Limited menu choices could also make it hard to order something you want to eat. The drinks situation doesn’t get any better, either. If you’re anything like me, then you probably desire a bit of alcohol here and there to help you snooze through a long flight. In this case, you might end up paying what seems to be a small fortune for a couple of tiny cans and bottles.

Expensive airports

As soon as you’ve checked in your baggage and passed through security, you are simply stuck in the airport until your plane boards. They know they’ve got you hooked, so to speak, so they bump up all the prices. Refreshments and products that might be reasonably priced just a few miles outside the airport are now simply out of your reach.

Inconsiderate and noisy neighbors

One of the worst possible things that could happen to you on a flight is to be sat near inconsiderate or noisy neighbors. Screeching children, bickering couples, but also other people who are constantly in need of the restroom or rummaging in the overhead lockers are only a few examples of things that could deeply irritate you.

Worse still, you rarely get the opportunity to change seats, so if you are on a long flight, the annoyances could go on for hours.

Delays, cancellations, lost baggage

It’s fair to say that the underlying frustration with flying generally comes from knowing that most things are completely out of your control. You commit to a journey, and then you are fully stuck with it, whatever happens or goes wrong.

Flights can be delayed for quite a long time, sometimes creating even longer delays that make you miss the connecting flight. Cancellations are even worse than that, and they can leave you completely stranded.

Losing baggage is also a serious cause of stress, even if it’s, thank God, less common these days, as the threat of terrorism has resulted in baggage being tracked in a more efficient manner.

Passports, bureaucracy, luggage collection

If you’ve successfully arrived at the foreign destination airport and you’re hungry and tired, you just wish to have a moment of peace. Unfortunately, the entire ordeal is oftentimes far from over. Now, you have to wait in a long line to present your passport, but also deal with any travel visas, restrictions, and customs procedures.

Then, you have to rush to collect the luggage, which might be at the other side of the airport. Waiting for your baggage to arrive on the carousel, identifying it, and then lugging it away is not what you want after a long, exhausting journey.

common tourist traps travel
Photo by alesha_macarosha from Envato Elements

Traveling to and from the airport

Of course, some airports are rather close to the city centers and very well-integrated with other means of transportation. However, some are miles from anywhere and not so easy to get to. The time of day when your flight leaves or arrives might have a bearing on the difficulty and stress levels.

For example, if it’s rush hour, dragging your baggage around on crowded public transport is nothing less than a nightmare. If you are traveling late at night, or very early in the morning, there might not be as many travel options available to get you to or from the airport.

Fear of flying

While I did experience a bit of anxiety in my early days of flying, I can’t truly say that it deeply affected me. However, for many people, the fear of flying is a crippling issue. Some people avoid getting on planes altogether to avoid psychological discomfort.

Others might get on flights because they feel that there’s no other practical way of getting where they should be, but experience extreme emotional stress in the meantime.

Environmental impact

It’s also fair to say that plane travel isn’t very good for the environment. Moreover, according to the European Union’s Transport and Environment Department, the combination of CO2 emissions, other types of gases, and water vapor trails actually make flying quite responsible for no less than 5% of global warming.

This might not seem that large to some people, but it’s also important to note that only a very small proportion of the world’s population flies, and most of them live in the richer countries of Western Europe, Australasia, and North America.

Can we say that flying is unhealthy?

There’s a wide number of reasons why we might think that plane travel can be harmful, especially if you fly on a regular basis. Here are some of the health risks that you might want to know about:

Deep-vein thrombosis

This potentially fatal condition implies the apparition of blood clots caused by extended periods of restricted mobility that flying involves. Most clots dissolve into the bloodstream and no harm is generally caused. But, under certain circumstances, clots can also go to the heart or lungs.

Jet lag

The effects of sleep disruption are often underestimated. For example, repeated disruptions to the circadian rhythms when traveling on long international flights have been continuously linked to a wide variety of conditions, like mood disorders, cognitive decline, and heart disease.


The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the increased risks of infections that are associated with plane travel. An in-flight environment is a wonderful place for germs to spread. Sharing recycled air in a pressurized cabin with dozens of other travelers, often for many hours, can be the ideal recipe for illness.

If you found this article useful, we also recommend checking: 5 Incredible Haunted Places in America! Would You Dare to Visit Them?

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