The joys of air travel

Just stumbled across this post on ‘Freshly Pressed’, quite apropos since I ended up having a 30-hour journey home thanks to the Qantas grounding.

I have never been one who loved flying. I was not the young girl who grew giddy with excitement at takeoff, and I don’t view air travel through some strange, romantic lens firmly focused on the places and adventures in which a plane might one day land me. To me, taking flight is no more fantastical or promising than getting in a car, on a train, or astride a push bike. It is simply a way to get from Point A to Point B. As an expat living away from my friends and family, however, I have learned that I need to at least tolerate the time I am forced to spend sitting far too close to far too many people inside a somewhat oppressive metal capsule.

On the plus side, I have found planes offer plenty of time for:

  1. Multimedia magic. Booking my longer flights on newer, plusher planes with on-demand personal entertainment systems allows me to catch up on those movies I vaguely wanted to see but didn’t deem worthy of an $18 cinema seat. (It also lets me see romantic comedies my husband couldn’t quite be dragged to, a la ‘Friends with Benefits‘ – actually funny, ‘Something Borrowed‘ – less so, etc.) The best part? Probably a toss up between Tetris and the fine selection of documentaries most wouldn’t normally have stumbled upon. (Yesterday, I watched ‘The Hollywood Complex‘.) If you won’t be boarding an A380 soon, you can, of course, bring an iPad. I’m not that fancy.
  2. A good read. As a child, I was more than an avid reader – I consumed books the way a lion consumes a gazelle, rapidly and ferociously. It wasn’t at all odd for me to have a three-book weekend, and they weren’t all of the Sweet Valley High, three-syllable word variety (though some certainly were – I loved Elizabeth and Jessica!). Sadly, the time and energy that used to be channelled toward books has, of late, had to go toward more ‘important’ activities like, oh – I don’t know, holding down a job. My little aisle seat is perfect for sharing some time with favourite authors like Michael Cunningham.
  3. Time alone in our heads. Most of my travel of late has been alone. It is funny the effect this has on my otherwise generally optimistic nature. The solitary time makes me melancholy as I watch couples cuddle across the arm rest and brings all the ‘big issues’ rushing into my brain at once. While I don’t enjoy pondering religion, life, death, love and more all at once, it is good to have some time where I can work through what does and doesn’t matter in my life without a buzzing mobile or other interruptions.
While my list may be more pragmatic than most, it shows that flying does represent an escape – just not a physical one. It gives me a chance to finally switch off from and contemplate my daily life – something I wouldn’t do even if I had the same free time available to simply sit on my couch.