Top 5 fun things to do on an airplane

What if you could enjoy your time in the air more often?

Many people tell me that they dislike flying – the small space, recycled air, potentially long time sitting in one place. I tell them that I love it! I’m an anomaly who enjoys the process of traveling (sometimes more than the destination), perhaps because I’ve found ways to make good use of the time in transit. Here are some ways that I make flying fun and meaningful and I encourage you to try them on your next flight!

1. Model for the flight attendants as they perform the safety demonstrations.

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This is a fun way to both make the flight attendant’s day (this part of the flight can get monotonous for them) as well as potentially save a passenger’s life because they paid attention to the spectacle. It never hurts to ask if you could help them!

2. Try out the secret menu.

Many airlines and routes have unique meal offerings.

Alaska Airlines serves POG juice (passion fruit, orange, guava) on flights to and from Hawaii. Singapore Airlines makes a great Singapore Sling on all of their routes. If you fly business class on Singapore, you can also “book the cook” for pre-reserved meals such as Lobster Thermidor or Roast Lamb Chops.

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Lobster on a plane…who knew…

On most Asian airlines, you can request ramen between meal services. All Nippon Airways (ANA) steps that up a notch by providing Ippudo Tonkotsu Ramen (splendid, even comparable to the in-the-restaurant experience).

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When pigs do fly!

And Alaska Airline also has Angus Cheeseburgers (the best in the air) on flights from Mexico, which I enjoyed on a recent flight.

There are even seasonal offerings on some airlines. Last year, Singapore Airlines was offering a special Bak Kuh Teh (pork spare rib soup) dish to commemorate the country’s 50th anniversary.

3. Get to know your seatmate.

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Unless your seat mate is a box of fried chicken, you can probably have a great conversation with him/her.

In my 200+ flight segments, I’ve had wonderful conversations with the people sitting next to me. From athletes, venture capitalists, and pastors, to great grandmothers, students, and hairdressers, I’ve talked with people from all walks of life on airplanes.

I once had an hour-long conversation with the secretary to Ed Silvoso, who is a prolific author and pastor seeking to end systemic poverty. We were talking deeply about organizational design for churches and how churches need to partner better with their local city to effect transformational change. We exchanged information and a week later, she sent me a box of his books!

Many years ago, I even asked a lady out on a date (though we had an engaging in-flight conversation, the ground experience wasn’t the same)! Maybe I’ll share more about this story in a future post.

Of course, not everyone wants to talk and rarely for the entire flight, but I would approximate that I’ve had 15+ minute conversations with about 70% of the people I sit next to. I would qualify that this is true when I fly solo and when I initiate the talk. Maybe the proximity helps people get to know each other better… after all, you are sitting 1 inch away from them for the duration of the flight.

4. Play a game.

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If you get nervous when there is turbulence, tell your seat mate a secret every time it occurs. That can help calm your senses. For example, confessing that you are deathly afraid of ants can help take your mind off the impending doom. Just kidding. Commercial flying is safer than driving, by a long shot. You have nothing to worry about unless ants get on board…

5. Learn about your airplane and discover airplane-specific perks.

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On a recent flight on Alaska Air, I discovered that they had an interesting partnership with T-mobile in which customers can send text messages for free. Virgin America lets you order food from the touchscreen in front of your seat, so you don’t have to wait for scheduled meal services or push the call button. And on many Asian aircraft like ANA’s 777s, Thai Airways’s 777s, or even Air Canada’s 777s you can look out the window…from your commode.

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Don’t spend too much time in there, though.

And finally, Japanese carriers like ANA normally have a bidet function in their toilets as well. Try it, seriously!

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If you don’t know about the perks of your aircraft, comment below and I will respond with what I know. This is also something you can ask your flight attendant once you are on board.

These are the top five fun things I like to do on an airplane. What are some ways that you keep your flights fun?

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