Things To Do On an Airplane

I’ve been flying a lot lately.

It’s a pretty unnatural thing to do, when you think about it.  You sit in an aluminum tube next to people you don’t know, reading used magazines with the crossword puzzles already filled out, eating peanuts and avoiding conversation.  The doors are locked (thankfully), so you can’t escape – and the bathrooms are about the size of a refrigerator.

We fly thousands of miles away, often in less time than it takes us to get to the airport, through security and onto the plane.

And we pay a bunch of money to do it.

No wonder Al Gore said, “Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.”

Flight trackerNormally, we wouldn’t subject ourselves to those conditions voluntarily.  The airlines know that, so they provide distractions – things to take our minds off how uncomfortable we are.

They have magazines.  They show movies.  They have live TV in the headrests.  They serve food (sort of). Sometimes they have interactive games and puzzles.  Many planes offer wi-fi for a fee so we can stay connected during the journey.

If we’re not happy with the options the airlines provide, we bring our own entertainment.  People are reading their Kindles or Nooks, playing computer solitaire or sleeping.  Doing those things helps pass the time, and we don’t have to think about being uncomfortable.

I usually take the time to get some work done without the interruption of the phone or email.  It’s one of those rare times to focus for a few hours without distraction.

But my favorite distraction is the flight tracker.

It’s a program that shows a map of the route, giving facts like airspeed, altitude and outside temperature.  There’s a little airplane on the screen that shows where we are on the route.  We can watch the “miles to destination” get smaller, providing hope that it’ll all be over soon.

Is there a life lesson here?  Maybe.  (Actually, probably not.)  But I made three simple observations that might apply:

  1. It’s good to have a clear destination.  Most people confuse activity with accomplishment.
  2. It’s good to track progress toward our goals.  It keeps us realistic.
  3. It’s important to enjoy the journey, not just endure it to get where we’re going.

On a flight tracker, that little airplane shows us what’s coming next.  But in real life, that little plane is at the edge of the screen.  We don’t know everything that’s ahead.  We only see the past and the present – not the future.

So we better savor the moment.

Enjoy the journey today.  Make a difference.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Living in the present is the key to thriving in the future.

Ready for takeoff?

Senior Consultant at FranklinCovey; Speaker, Author of 5 books - including "People Can't Drive You Crazy If You Don't Give Them the Keys," "I Wish He Had Come With Instructions," and "Dealing With the Elephant in the Room." (See Book page)