The art of flying

Clouds from the planeI love to fly. On flights I find time for long stretches of reading. Floating high above the earth’s surface brings a mental distance that is great for reflection.

But the experience of flying can be more tranquil and pleasant if airlines make these small changes:

  • Board passengers in small groups, with group numbers printed in large font on your boarding pass. If it is clear when you are allowed to board the plane, there is no need to push yourself forward in a long line at the gate.
  • Do not interrupt movies for (duty free) announcement messages. Also, why is it not possible for passengers to start movies when the plane is still at the gate or taxiing?
  • Do not turn on all cabin lights on an overnight flight 1 hour before landing. The flight from Boston to Amsterdam takes five-and-a-half hours, leaving 3 hours of sleep between dinner and arrival. Why would you wake everyone up for the final hour-and-a-half? Is it not possible for passengers to switch on their individual reading lights if they want breakfast?

You can try to find tranquility even when your environment disturbs you:

  • Plan to be at the airport early. I have created an annoying habit of delaying my departure to the airport to the latest moment. This led to my first missed flight recently. Plan to be early: you will make up for the “lost time” of leaving early by a gain in mental clarity during your travel to the airport.
  • Do something at the airport that makes you peaceful. Annoyance builds up when you focus your mind on the chaos around you. Listen to classical music, a podcast or an audiobook. I sometimes read even while standing in line to board, although this makes me look like a failed acrobat – trying to move my bags with my feet while keeping my eyes on my reading.
  • Bring an eyemask and ear buds in your carry-on luggage. When you enter the plane, you can take a nap straight away.
  • Talk to strangers. Have a chat with the person sitting next to you at the gate or on the flight. Small talk and jokes bring happiness. Plus: the person sitting next to you may tell you an amazing story (or even become the love of your life).

What are your travel tips? What do you do when you’re waiting at the gate or on the plane? Do you bring special things with you?

2 thoughts on “The art of flying

  1. For me flying is time to reflect, to sit quietly by myself, to meditate, to enter the realm between being awake & being asleep. In the vastness of the space around me, my worries or problems shrink to a proportionate smaller seize. I see things in a new perspective. As I settle down in my seat on the plane, I wrap my meditation shawl around my shoulders & head. Flying between stars and planets I thus enjoy being in my own, protected and sacred niche. Blessed be every flight!

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