09.July.2021

Flying over Key West in early 2020. Photo by me.


“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.” 

— Marie Curie 

When I was a kid, my dad traveled often for business. He’d come home with the usual souvenirs he probably grabbed at the airport (my dresser was full of “Visit New Hampshire” type shirts) and would tell us about the cool places he had visited in between appointments. 

If we were lucky, there’d be a trip to the Fotomat, and in a few days, we could look at some grainy pictures of wherever he’d been. But no matter where he went, when pressed for a favorite part of the trip, he’d always give the same answer: the flight. 

It was the one place no one could reach him. It gave him time to read, think, whatever. Sometimes he’d spend the entire flight looking out the window and daydreaming, with only his thoughts and imagination keeping him company.

We like being distracted. Since the earliest days of aviation, airlines have been happy to help us with that. Food, playing cards, In-Flight Entertainment; the list goes on. 

If you’re of a certain (ahem) age, you may remember the introduction of the Airphone on airplanes. They were bulky, cost a fortune, and were mainly used to tell people… you were calling them from an airplane. Movies were played on monitors that dropped down from the ceiling.

Today there are screens at every seat and 100’s of hours of content to pass the time. The advance in technology is nothing short of amazing, really. Airphones are long gone, but who needs that when you can iMessage everyone?

Put another way, you can spend an entire trip not ever thinking about the miracle of flight, or having to notice the view unfolding 30, 000 ft. below you. You can be as busy in the air as you are on the ground. Or not.

Yesterday I took my first post-pandemic flight. I had all kinds of plans to get things done; a pile of things to read, a decent-sized to-do list, phone stuffed with podcasts, etc. 

About 15 minutes in, I decided not to do any of it.

Instead, I read a little, looked out the window, and let my mind wander. 

It’s still the best IFE there is.

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