Traveling? Annoyed? The two often go hand in hand. Here are some of the most irritating thangs going on above, below and everywhere else in between.
1. Have you noticed that in a growing number of international airports around the world, the instant you clear security instead of being able to walk directly to your departure gate you are instantly obstructed by a string of shiny and disgusting duty free shops? Yes: shiny, because well they’re usually shiny. Disgusting, yes, because beyond being simply mundane—the shops are invariably selling hypercommercialized perfumes and similar crap—they smell like a bonfire of those scratch-n-sniff perfume ads that pollute the pages of Vogue and other retrograde luxe brands.
This is just appalling. Worse, it’s disorientating. Have the airport marketing genuises not heard of Amazon Prime? All you want to do is get to your gate, but now you have to navigate a sea of, well, shit that just happens to be prettily packaged. You will find yourself trailing behind other travelers who are as flummoxed by this latter day funhouse as you are. You will find yourself saying God why oh why did you let this happen? But good luck finding your gate!
2. Have you noticed that these days when can actually find a screen with your gate information, increasingly the “information” posted takes the form of blithe dribbles of info that go something like this? “Gate will be announced in 45 minutes.”
Really? Does anyone honestly believe that at modern airports like Heathrow or Schiphol or wherever they don’t actually know which gate your LARGE AIRPLANE is going to be leaving from an hour out from departure? Of course they do. But by not telling you where, by playing the coy ingenue, what else does a hapless idiot like you have to do but linger in the goddam perfume store for another hour?
Oh yes, you could visit one of those airline lounges. The last time I did, it was about as relaxing as checking into a Starbucks in Times Square (and Starbucks has better coffee).
3. A revolting collaboration between Turkish Airlines and a fabled brand in which we have rapidly diminishing confidence, Mandarina Duck. Now, in all fairness, I had no intention to critique this bad partnership, but when an unprincipled PR firm called Finn Partners kept sending me press release after press release about Turkish Airlines it left me with little choice.
First let us say clearly: Turkey has no place in NATO, and Turkish Airlines has no place in the Star Alliance. Whether or not you view modern Turkey as a dictatorship, the truth is that Turkey invaded Cyprus and American taxpayers are paying a lot to keep the Turks from gobbling up even more of the Eastern Mediterranean. Mandarina Duck, the Bologna-based luggage company that was cool in the 1980s but started to lose its luster around the time it copied the Apple model of “designed in” a non-dictatorship but actually “made in China” — doubtless by the modern equivalent of slave labor — has joined up with Turkish Airlines to provide amenity kits to economy class passengers on intercontinental flights.
Now, we wouldn’t expect an American PR firm to recognize how ethically vile this is, but we did expect better from Mandarina Duck. Cosi triste!
4. That thing where you just took a 13-hour flight from one stupid airport to another even more stupid airport and why is it even more stupid question mark because you have landed and like totally need to get your connection to another stupid question mark airport but you can’t get off the plane because “they” aren’t ready at the gate yet. Because no one at the airport has ever worked at an airport before, and maybe they were expecting a golf cart to arrive instead of an A380? As we said, the airport you just got to is even more stupid than the one from which you departed.
This you’ve-landed-but-you-can’t-deplane business is happening a lot more, studies find.
5. Anybody who goes to Santorini, posts a picture of themselves in a bikini (maybe even in an infinity pool!) and then calls themselves an influencer. Yeah bitch, you just influenced us—to stay home.
6. The sham TWA Hotel at JFK or anything to do with said sham hotel. What makes it a sham is that none of the hotel rooms at the historic TWA terminal built by, Eero Saarinen, the Finn who designed the world’s most pointless arch and most architecturally annoying airport in America are actually in the terminal! Case in point, the Eero Saarinen Presidential Suite (please) is not in the old terminal but simply looks out over it! If any other hotel tried to pull that it would be called bait and switch. Thank u, next.
7. SFO’s banning of water sold in plastic bottles. SFO is already a “bag-free” airport so this is really no surprise. Little San Francisco thinks it’s going to save the world when it can’t even get the thousands of homeless people on its streets some decent housing? How about banning marketing meetings at SFO, and re-assigning those self-congratulating Californians to find ways to feed their city’s people? Hmm…work that actually requires more than patting yourself on the back for play-acting at making a difference doesn’t seem to be in vogue anywhere in America these days, does it?
8. More fake travel awards are crossing our radar than ever before. Consider this headline in a July edition of the Beverly Hills Courier: “Peninsula Beverly Hills Voted No. 1 in Annual Travel & Leisure World’s Best Awards”. Well, that so-called award means nothing, whether or not readers were the ones who weighed in. Travel & Leisure apparently reported that “the allure of tony Beverly Hills has proven irresistible to readers” but one wonders, has anyone in the offices of that retrograde Gotham-bound brand ever set foot in Beverly Hills? Because there is nothing alluring about it at all. It registered in pop culture thanks to movies like Beverly Hills Cop and restaurants like Spago, but Jesus, even Spago was in West Hollywood. Next!
9. Realizing that Basic Economy on airlines like United actually exists, and not being able to fire the evil geniuses who came up with it.
10. CNBC apparently is paying for its reporters to stay in lavish hotels in red China, ostensibly to report on doing business in China, while the Chinese government cracks down on pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong.
Any Western outlet that willfully neglects the fact that the real business of China is repression should, at the very least, review its hiring procedures. Visit Taiwan now.