Up in the clouds

Some thoughts that have occurred to me about the process of air travel:

The twists and turns of duty free just past security are identical in every airport, down to the ordering and placement of booze, then perfume, then a hard right angle at the LEGO which is still over-priced even without VAT, then the Toblerones and Milka chocolate, until you open out - a seamless transition - into the arena of the inevitable W H Smiths, Burger Kings, and Wetherspoons and/or Wetherspoons knock-offs (which are, of course, preferable - all the benefits of a microwaved full English with at least a more subtle form of nationalism).

It will only occur to you approximately half an hour before a flight, whilst sat at the gate, thousand yard stare fixed to your face, what the inevitable demographic of that flight will be. If you’re heading to, say, Orlando, you may well have not realised until the last minute just how many of the passengers will be overexcited children going to Disneyland, although rest assured that their attire and hyperactivity both at the gate and as they run down the aisle of the plane will make themselves obvious to all concerned. You wonder if just slightly sticking your leg out and tripping them would get the attention of the parent busily ignoring them with the latest Terminator film on a tiny screen, but somehow you doubt it.

The best situation to be in the day after Dry January ends is an altitude of approximately 36,000 feet.

An non-hack observation about airplane food: when presented with two meal options, the pasta one will always sound more appealing than the non-pasta option, and as such you will always opt for it, but will always be more underwhelming.

All grand plans to catch up on books, and podcasts, and music, and films crumble on contact with the reality of a 9 and a half hour plane journey, spent mostly watching the flight map and wondering how you’ve never realised just how long 6 hours can be when it’s only so far been 3.

Every plane journey, regardless of origin or destination, observes the same basic route. A quiet calm because you know that, statistically, flying is very safe. A slightly bumpy take-off that makes you believe that, yes, this is the time you’re going to crash and die. An innate curiosity about how and when, exactly, your friends, coworkers, and loved ones will be made aware of your demise, and a deep sadness that you never got to say the things you should have said to them. A look to the bright side, an acceptance, a freedom - that todo list at work won’t need dealing with anymore; that letter from the council now needs no reply; the decisions and actions you were having to make which made you so anxious now no longer affect you. Finally, a safe landing with a slight sense of disappointment that you survived - the bills still need paying, the work sat on your desk remains yours, those decisions still need taking. But, hey, you’re in Orlando now, so might as well make the most of it. Disneyland, anyone?

Sam Healer

Sam Healer

Software engineer. Occasional musician. Erstwhile comedian. Cultural omnivore.

rss facebook twitter github gitlab youtube mail spotify lastfm instagram linkedin google google-plus pinterest medium vimeo stackoverflow reddit quora quora letterboxd bandcamp