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Annoying Travel Article

As someone who travels frequently for work, I found the advice in this article pretty annoying: 10 Tools for Getting Work Done on Long Plane Rides.

Annoyance #1: The very idea

Summary: What the hell are you doing trying to work on a fricking airplane?

Life and work can be somewhat unpredictable, so there may be occasions when you have to do some work on your way to a client site, presentation, or business meeting. But the general rule for normal people is that you’re not “on the clock” 24×7.

Learn to manage your time. Get prepared for your event before you leave. On the flight, try to relax. When you arrive, you need to be rested and have a clear head. You won’t do your best work if your tired and stressed.

Annoyance #2: Make yourself at home! Not!

Between the title and the text of the article there’s a photo of a man in an airplane seat, working on a laptop. He’s wearing headphones and he has a nice cup of coffee on his tray table next to his computer. The problem is, his right elbow is way outside the space he paid for, and intruding well into the space you or I paid for (assuming there was a second seat next to him, which there almost surely would be on a real aircraft). His big hairy leg is also spread out to the side, intruding into his neighbor’s space.

No.

Just…no.

Interlude

I realize the article isn’t really offering “advice.” It’s just a bunch of paid advertisements organized to look like an article. But we haven’t even seen the first product yet, and we’ve already been annoyed on two counts. This does not bode well for the remainder of the article.

Annoyance #3: Overpriced power unit for gadgets

Even if you’re organized enough not to have to work in-flight, it’s a good idea to bring along one or two extra power packs for your phone or other small devices; not to work, of course, but just to make sure you don’t run out of tunes, videos, e-books, or games before you land.

The annoyance here is the price tag. The promoted product has a suggested price of $70. You can find equivalent products on Amazon priced in the $20-$25 range.

Don’t be a rube.

Annoyance #4: Overpriced energy bars

First off, you don’t need “energy” to sit there waiting for your flight to end. You need to relax.

Second, the promoted product comes in a 12-pack with a price tag of $28. For that, you get…well, you get “energy bars.” Airplane food and airport food are sketchy enough on a good day. And there you are with an empty wallet and a fistful of energy bars. You’re not actually going to put one of those things in your mouth, are you?

You can’t control very much about your trip once you’re in the clutches of an airline, or you’re stuck at an airport waiting for whatever the delay-of-the-day is. You can at least respect yourself enough to eat something that tastes good. It’s a small thing, sure, but sometimes the small things are all you’ve got.

Good suggestion #1: Prepare to work offline

So, if you can’t or won’t avoid working in-flight, then at least don’t depend on connectivity or fast download speeds to get to your files. Download whatever you think you’ll need to work on before you leave so you can work locally on your computer.

Better still: Don’t work in flight.

Annoyance #5: Airhook

The Airhook is a product that clips onto a closed tray table and provides a holder for a tablet and a drink cup. It doesn’t seem like a bad idea in theory. As Yogi Berra said, “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”

You don’t have to pay $25 for something like this; you can get cheaper ones for as little as $10. But none of them will really hold your gear very well, and if the passenger in the seat in front of you decides to recline…well, suffice it to say your flying experience could be better.

Your mileage may vary, but personally I’ve been perfectly capable of dropping my phone on the floor and spilling my drink on myself without the aid of a $25 thingy. It’s just one more piece of junk to carry with you.

Good suggestion #2: MacBook Air

Actually, it could be any laptop with a small form factor. If you really need to work in-flight, then of course you’ll need something a little more usable than a tablet or phone. I’ve carried a MacBook Air, a Microsoft Surface, and a Toshiba Portege at various times over the years. Small, light, and functional.

Better still: Don’t work in flight.

Annoyance #6: Overpriced organizer

If you can afford to spend $385 on a high-class leather cord organizer, then you definitely don’t need to work in flight; you have low-paid lackeys who do the work for you.

And if you really do need an organizer of this general type, you can find quite nice ones in the $9-$15 range that are, for all practical purposes, the same as this one, only not leather. Who are you trying to impress, anyway?

Annoyance #7: Overpriced headphones

Touted as a way to “minimize distractions” so you can work in flight, headphones are actually used for listening to podcasts, music, the soundtracks of movies, and so forth. Noise-reducing headphones are somewhat helpful, but the level of sound on an aircraft is such that you’ll never really compensate for it.

The article suggests you spend $350 to try. You can get close to the same level of noise reduction and sound quality for $25-$40. The airplane noise is going to “win” no matter how much you spend.

If you really want $350 headphones, then go for it. Just don’t pretend to yourself or anyone else that they will minimize distractions so you can “work” (nudge, nudge; wink wink).

Annoyance #8: Laptop privacy filter

The $30 item recommended in the article is not priced out of line with alternatives. You could spend between $25 and $45 on this type of product. The more-fundamental question, however, is do you really think anyone cares what’s displayed on your computer screen? Do you really think you’re doing anything so important that you have to shield it from prying eyes? Yet another unnecessary piece of junk to carry.

You could buy a 12-pack of nasty-tasting energy bars with that $30. Priorities.

Annoyance #9: Overpriced paper planner

“Go analog!” says the article. Spend $18 for a little booklet where you can write things down. Sure, why spend $1 for an equivalent product at your friendly neighborhood office supply store, when you can drop $18 instead.

<sigh>

Annoyance #10: Overpriced pen

The “Inventory Bolt Action pen” is a bargain at just $80.

Ooh…bolt action! Cool! Does it come in camouflage?

Or you could order a box of 144 pens for $12 off Amazon. Your brilliant ideas will not be reduced in value if you note them down with an inexpensive pen.

If you’d spend $80 for a pen, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you to go along with it. You can write graffiti.

Interlude

When I viewed the article online, it was presented as one of a series of articles on the same web page. The next in the series was Hardcore Winter Clothing That Fits in a Carry On.

Annoyance #11: Check a bag

Don’t bring all your earthly possessions into the cabin. Check a bag. Will it cost you an extra fee? Maybe, but for the price of one of those fricking pens you can check three bags. And if you really are a frequent flyer, you’ll be eligible for free checked luggage at some point anyway.

Respect your fellow passengers’ right to overhead bin space.

There were more articles on that page in a similar vein, but they weren’t annoying enough to be amusing.

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