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I’ve been spending a lot of time on airplanes lately. Between Europe and my upcoming trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, I’ll have been on seven planes in one month, which blows my meager record of three in one month out of the water.
By no means am I a professional flyer — far from it. I don’t have Pre-Check and I still wear fully-laced shoes when going through security. However, I do consider myself to be an above average people watcher. Between my commute to work, people I don’t know very well in my office, going to the gym, and my commute home, I would say I make up stories for somewhere between 10-20 people every day.
Now throw an entire airplane full of people into the mix and I’m ready to rumble. Something that I always try to pick up on is how people are entertaining themselves during the flight. From there, I think it’s safe to make a few assumptions.
Chances are you’re a pretty normal person. Whether you made a playlist specifically for this trip or downloaded a few albums, you probably know how to occupy yourself for at least an average 3-4 hour flight.
Similar to music, there isn’t much to see here. You know what keeps you entertained, and you’re going after it. The only difference here is dependent on the podcast itself. General comedy, sports, or entertainment podcasts are good to go, but once we start veering into politics and news, there’s a slightly pretentious vibe being put out.
Whenever I see someone reading a book on a plane, I think two things: “That sucks, they must have forgotten their headphones,” or, “Wow, how are they able to concentrate?” Look, there’s nothing wrong with reading a book while you’re traveling. I just feel like in this day and age there are so many other ways to entertain yourself that books actually require more effort.
As a person who has a ton of trouble sleeping on planes, if you’re able to pull this off then I am incredibly envious. Catch those Zs, you plane sleepers.
Movie (Provided By Airline)
Huge roll of the dice on this one. Depending on the airline you’re flying, you could have your pick of fun-filled Oscar-nominated and critically-acclaimed films, or you could end up getting stuck watching Caddyshack 2 rethinking all of your choices that led you to this point. Needless to say, if you’re watching the movie provided by the airline, you’re a gambler.
Movie (Downloaded By You)
You know what you want and you don’t care who knows it. If you took the time to download a movie to your phone or tablet or whatever before the flight, then you know exactly what’s going to keep you from wanting to bash your head against your tray table for the next 3-4 hours. If you’re traveling for vacation, you probably have a thoroughly planned itinerary.
Talking To Your Seatmate
The social norms on an airplane are something that are yet to be written down, but I can say for certain that if your game plan for a flight is to talk to the person sitting next to you the whole time, then you probably don’t take others’ feelings into consideration often. Think about it. That person you’re chatting it up with probably had a podcast they were super excited to listen to. Or maybe they downloaded a few episodes of Riverdale because the show was getting good and they couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. The longer you’re talking to them, the more time you’re taking away from their personal in-flight entertainment.
That is, unless you have a damn good story. Then it’s more acceptable.
I think the worst part about watching people do work on an airplane is that I totally understand why they’re doing it. There’s nothing else to do, you’re stuck on a plane for who knows how long, so why not pump out some reports or something? I get it. However, that doesn’t mean that when I see people working on an airplane I don’t immediately think that they think they’re more important than I am.
Ideally, this is a group of friends who all booked the trip together and now they’re running up a tab the likes of which the American Airlines flight attendant has never seen. That’s all well and good, and if that’s you, just know that you’re the envy of almost everyone on the plane (minus the hungover shmucks two rows behind you).
However, if you’re on your own and you’re ordering multiple cocktails on a 9:00 a.m. flight, there may be a larger problem at hand. .