The Joy Of Air Travel

If you listened to the audio post above you heard me chuckling about having shared a seat with big, large and stinky the inconsiderate man from the plane.  I suppose it is only fair to admit that I wasn’t laughing on the plane.

I wanted to. I tried to. I made up funny stories inside my head and even played around with different angles I could use to blog about the experience but I just couldn’t quite wrap my head around it.

It wasn’t solely because he smelled like he had taken a bath in an outhouse but that certainly didn’t help. He smelled so badly I considered vomiting on myself. You might see that as being crazy but I saw it as being a MacGyver like move where I would make the air smell sweeter and provide encouragement for him to do a better job of sharing the armrest.


MacGyver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Confession, I haven’t ever seen MacGyver. I have seen bits and pieces of it, but mostly I am relying upon you and I sharing a common pop culture reference. It is like when I am traveling in my friend Jon’s car and I say, “Punch it Chewie!”

He knows that I am encouraging him to step on the gas and accelerate so that we can get onto the freeway safely. I will never understand why he insists on flying up the freeway on ramp at the blazing speed of 19 miles per hour.

It is the freeway and anyone who understands how to drive the freeway recognizes that you need to be traveling a little bit faster so that you can safely merge with the other cars.

Hmm…I wonder if perhaps Jon has trouble understanding that two people have to share the arm rest on a plane. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

The Airport

I find the airport to be endlessly fascinating. Some of it is because I love to people watch and there is no better place to do it than the airport.  I can’t think of a place that provides a more diverse cross section to study.

There are endless stories floating through the terminals and I wish that I had time to stop, learn and listen to them all. That is not really an exaggeration either.

I like watching the security staff. I find it interesting to see who looks bored and who looks awake. I wonder what made them interested in this line of work and whether it is a career or something to do right now.

Most of the time I don’t stop to ask those questions. I don’t want more attention when I am going through the line. It is not because I have something to hide but because I want to get through so I can sit down and relax before my flight.

Sometimes that doesn’t happen and I find myself running through the terminal and onto the plane. It is not a horrible thing, but since they started charging for checked baggage it has become much harder to find overhead storage on the flight so I prefer to be their earlier so that I have a better shot at getting it.

Headphones and conversation

I never fly without my headphones and my cellphone or iPod. That is because I like to listen to music. It relaxes me and helps me fall asleep.

But it is also because you never know who you are going to sit next to. Sometimes your seat mate is fascinating and sometimes they stink. Sometimes you like talking to them and sometimes you wish they would suddenly go mute.

Those headphones help me manage the conversation. If I don’t feel like speaking I can put them on and get lost in my world.

I usually try to supplement my music with a good book and or movie. It is an easy way to pass the time.

But I never miss an opportunity to read the Skymall magazine on the flight. It is one of my goto moves on every flight I take. I never buy anything from the magazine, but I like looking at all of the crazy gadgets, gimmicks and gizmos they show inside it.

What about you? Do you like flying? Do you have any rituals you engage in when you fly?


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  1. Donald Quixote Is a Spammer- January 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I love this post because it reminds me so much of myself. I also think that airports are possibly the greatest place to people watch. It’s so interesting to see so many different kinds of people and to think about who they are, where they came from, and what their stories are. Skymall is one of my favorites! It is possibly the most useless magazine ever created but I just have to read it every time I get on a plane! Music is a must have for me as well, but I feel like I’m missing out on interesting conversations with those around me. I’m trying to limit it and be more social.

  2. Richard Thompson August 21, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Great tips for air travel! Honestly, any time I fly I always have some sort of music device. Luckily, so many people have it built into their phone, you’ll almost never forget your music anywhere. Flying without music and having to rely on the in-flight entertainment is just rough.

  3. Eric Szvoboda May 23, 2013 at 7:34 am

    I would have to say the worst thing is when to try to make conversation with someone next to you, and their breath is rancid! I once sat next to this lady that was very interesting but i could not bring myself to understand her because it was like toxic fumes coming out of her mouth as she spoke! I even offered her a breath mind… and she declined!

  4. Anthony April 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Ahh yes, long distance air travel can be a drag, but getting to the destination is worth it!

  5. Lee April 3, 2013 at 9:11 am

    The only thing I enjoy about flying is I usually land in a far better place.

  6. Turner April 1, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I love flying. Just gotta load up the ipad and make sure those iphone are packed or ouch. I make sure to pack comfortable socks as the flights can get pretty cold. Snagging a pillow is also a good idea when you first get on the plane. Ritual.


  7. Wil January 20, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I’ve been on literally hundreds of planes and it’s defiantly my preferred method of transportation but those long flights to the other side of the world can be rough on the body for sure.

  8. Late_Bloomers July 2, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Jack, 
    I love new places but the attraction of flying has worn off.
    Especially with all the security regulations in place now, my first flight was ages ago and I think it was Betsy who mentioned something about it: walking out to the plane on the tarmac. This experience made me feel part of the adventure whereas nowadays I am a teensy little wheel in the control machinery, ordered to take off most of my clothes (I even once asked a security thingie whether I should take off my underwear as well) and strip my laptop.
    What I still love is getting to a new country at daylight after a sleepless night flight and experience it with that heightened awareness of all senses! 

    • TheJackB July 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm

      Hi Barbara,
      I will always remember the first time I walked across the tarmac. It was magical. It was more fun in part because it didn’t feel so impersonal. 
      That feeling of being a cog has taken some of the shine away.

  9. JanBierens June 30, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Hi, Jack.
    I was flying back home from Pensacola, FL via Houston to Amsterdam last Monday. I like to travel and *if* I grow up, I will try to do some more. I think flying is boring though. The part I like most about traveling is to see people at train stations or airports and fantasize about where they are going and why. For some reason that just intrigues me…
    A while ago we had a show here on TV about this. It’s called “Hello, goodbye”. The host of the show talked to people in the departure or arrival terminals of Schiphol Airport. They told him basically their whole life story. It was a fun show, mostly happy stories and — of course — some sad.

    • TheJackB June 30, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      Hi Jan,
      Flying is sort of boring to me too. I like to be able to stretch my legs and walk around. When I can’t I get a little stir crazy.
      I definitely understand the attraction to airports and train stations. They really lend themselves to creating a story about the people that frequent them.
      I just read about Schiphol Airport today. It got a nice review. Someone said it was very pleasant and that it is easy to access by train. Never been there, so…

  10. Hajra June 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I like flying. Mainly because I had had to fly over 5 hours. But yes, somehow I have always had fun. I did get upgrades to the business class quite some times and that makes it so much more better. But I don’t know why, the whole idea of flying and travelling just is so much fun for me. My mom says it is because I still haven’t had  a “bad flying experience” and thus the love for it. I
    I was flying home for winters once and my flight got delayed for 50 hours because of the fog but then those 50 hours were well compensated in a fancy hotel with complimentary meals! So yes, flying has been nice. One crappy incident awaits to spoil it all?

    • TheJackB June 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm

      Most of my flying experiences have been quite good, especially the ones where I have been on extended flights. Those ranged from 11-15 hours on a plane so I am quite grateful for the good experiences.
      But I have to agree with your mom, a bad experience or two can color your impression and feelings. I think in part it is because of the lack of control. Once you get on a plane you are stuck until they let you off.
      Fifty hours is a hell of a long time to get stuck. I suppose that if I didn’t have anything to do it might be kind of fun.

  11. CrossBetsy June 30, 2012 at 4:28 am

    My favorite time traveling was when our flight got cancelled from home (Mass.) back to “home” (Idaho) and we were put up in a hotel room and were given free reign of room service! The people at the check-in counter were so tired of people getting mad at them!  I shouted for joy when they told us we had to spend the night! I really didn’t want to go!
    I like looking for people to help in airports. It’s fun.

    • TheJackB June 30, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      That sounds like it was pretty cool. Room service without any worries is my kind of day/night at a hotel. I stayed at one earlier this year where they were charging $14 for a bottle of water. I wanted to ask them if they could keep a straight face while running my card to pay the bill.
      Ok, I didn’t do it because I just couldn’t bring myself to pay that kind of money for water, but I wanted to try…
      The customer service people have quite a job- tired and cranky travelers are no fun.

  12. bdorman264 June 30, 2012 at 3:44 am

    I like flying for the people and adventure aspect of it. I might change my tune if I was a frequent business flyer however.
    If you really want to people watch, go to Walmart at 3 am with a lawn chair and your camera.
    I’m not a germaphobe by any stretch, but I read those magazines in the plane have some really nasty shit on them. I’m sure it won’t slow me down if I have nothing else to read………:).

  13. AnnieAndreHacks June 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I’m with You Jack, i like to regulate the conversations with headphones, books and movie watching. Noise cancelling are by far the best coupled with a sleep mask is heaven. Bloddy mary is an occasional ritural depending on the time of day of my flight. 
    I’ve flown a log in my time and i have to say i have not sat next to anyone stinky except once someone took off their shoes and it smelled so back i actually did thrown up in my mouth a little. I asked the stewardess to do something and she told him to put back on his shoes. Another time someone farted in my general direction. That’s always ackward.  

    • TheJackB June 30, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      Funny you should mention stinky feet. Due to the security measures I have noticed that many more people fly in sandals or some sort of slip on shoes.
      It seems to me that I have noticed many more issues with foot odor than in the past. Can’t really say for certain, but that is my perception.

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