As soon as I read Deanna’s Five Things I Hate to Travel With post from a few days back, I immediately planned to do a piggyback post to it. The experience of air travel has become such drudgery, that even I – someone who’s supposed to like traveling – get cranky at the mere thought of having to stand in a cattle call, strip down, and pay extra for the privilege of using the armrest. My fellow tripwolf’s post greatly appealed to my dark mood, as well as my panic regarding an impending transatlantic flight I’m taking in a couple of weeks. But I’ve had a couple of good days, so while I’m feeling positive, I thought I’d take the flip side of the travel-misery argument and talk about things you can still enjoy about air travel.
I know. So much of the romance has been sucked out of it in recent years; it’s easy to overlook the things that are still nice.
You can make us take off our shoes, terrorists, but you’ll never take our will to fly!
Read on, for five things about air travel you can still look forward to.
Airport Shopping The Duty Free has always been a saving grace of the airport waiting game experience, but now, most major airports feature lots of other stores you actually want to shop in. Chain boutiques, bookstores, music stores, awesome pharmacies like Boots and, most happily, the delightful trend of airport express mini spas. It’s extremely rare that I indulge in professional massages or manicures when I’m on the ground, but somehow, waiting an hour in between flight connections brings out my need for pampering.
In-Flight Entertainment I realize this is a broad heading, as in-flight entertainment varies widely across airlines (I once took a transatlantic flight on a major carrier that offered only four movies. Four! You’d have thought it was 1995). But generally, today’s airlines offer extensive libraries of movies, games, TV shows, and music to make your flight that much more pleasant. The perfect excuse to catch up on the current season of How I Met Your Mother.
Space Age WiFi (!!!!!) If you’re flying domestic, chances are you’ll have the option of using WiFi once the plane has reached a certain altitude. WiFi! On the plane! Hello, Year 2000. If my 21st century technology options are hoverboards versus checking my Facebook at 10,000 feet, I’ll take the WiFi any day.
I mean, seriously. How cool is that?
The Meal Yes, the meal – hear me out. For one, airplane food has greatly improved in recent years; I had a meal on Korean Air a few years back that I might have enjoyed in a restaurant – sky high bulgogi for the win! The in-flight meal experience is also a sign that the flight is progressing according to plan, and, heck, you might as well get the most bang for your buck while you’re at it. And even if the meal isn’t as tasty as it could be, you’re rewarded with something to complain about to your fellow travelers or to the people back down on the ground when you get off the plane. Bonus: who can’t use extra mini salt and pepper packets?
The Take-Off Those with a fear of flying might strongly disagree here, but for the rest of us, there’s still at least a bit of romance left in the take off. The rushing of the engines, the drama in the moment before the plane lifts, the tug in your stomach when the plane lurches upwards, the popping of your ears and, yes, the screaming of a thousand children. The take-off is the quintessential experience of air travel, the one that most keenly reminds you that you are – despite any inconvenience, any discomfort – heading some place new. Roaring through space and time, moving towards a different horizon. You’re in the air. You’re one with the birds. You are a traveler.
What things do you still enjoy about air travel?