Reflections on Flying in the Modern Air

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I haven’t been on a flight this long since I traveled from New York to Hungary in 2007. Before that it was a much longer 17 hour trip from New York to Osaka, a trip I made for a course outing that got me a measly credit or so and plenty of drunken, culture-shock-driven romps across the Japanese geography. Things aren’t so much psychologically different now from when I first confronted the long distant mode of transit for the first time.

But things are different. There are, for one thing, many more distractions. The length of this flight, traveling from Seattle to Tokyo, still feels impossibly long, sure, but there are many things to keep a person busy, occupied. The whole idea of that last sentence being a run-on perfectly syncs with the activities in this cabin (yeah, composing in here, even though I won’t be able to post until later, since remarkably this airplane doesn’t have wifi).

Part of the time consumers are provided by the airline. United provides two and a half meals. A constant barrage of drinks too. From being offered a juice to water to coffee and tea, every half hour there is something new getting shoved at me, and thus poured down my throat. And why say no? If I’m awake, I’m not thirsty. And I’m doing all I can to keep myself from thinking about booze, something I usually engage with on domestic flights. Traveling around the world isn’t going to get easier with depressants.

After consumption of food and drink, there’s media. Like something out of Wall-E, each seat has its own completely free screen. This might not surprise some, but for those used to paying for movies when flying domestic, this is kind of a shock. Everything from new movies to old, television series, and entire albums from all decades and multiple countries is available to everybody. And gone are the days where you’re paying for your headsets, as these are also included. I think I watched four total videos before getting absolutely bonkers: Iron Man 3, Oblivion, Trance, and the old school Grumpy Old Men. I considered Roman Holiday, but couldn’t bring myself to staring at a screen for another two hours… Oh wait…

There are a couple of other cool features to the flight screens, including a live map monitoring flight progress, a connection to the cockpit’s communications (this is safe?), and games for kids and gambling addicts (pachinko) and chess masters. Oh, and the audio books. Sorry: Audiobooks. I’ll just go so far as to say I don’t expect many people to go into these, especially since the four categories of books offered are Business, Self Development, Fiction, and Nonfiction. As a library person, all I’ll say is this: how boring! (The UI could at least take a lesson from Google Play or iTunes).

Jason sits next to me reading Ray Bradbury short stories. We trade some comments and talk about how screwed we are (3 hour layover in Japan; 6 hours to Singapore), and yes, that is probably true. We will probably enjoy sipping beer and sharing noodles in Tokyo, and hope we can pass out on the second plane. When we hit Singapore, it will technically be after 530AM back in Seattle. And we’ve got maybe six hours to kill there before we can get into town. Maybe we will find peace on the floor of what Anthony Bordaine considers the greatest airport in the world. Maybe the 24 hour movie theater, notoriously free, will be open for us to be zombies in.

Regardless, this is all finally happening. Let’s all pray I don’t get a blood clot from this modern flight. I’ve been stretching every couple of hours. If I go down, it will at least been after a space of ease and intellect. I think I read around fifteen articles on Cambodia during the movie marathon, covering everything from an ethnographic report on the belief in evil spirits in the provincial forested region (prey) to the self-reflection of orphans to library histories to the presence of the English language throughout the country. I’m truly prepping as much as I can in as duly and fully an interdisciplinary light as possible.

Before I close, I did like to stress that comments are appreciated! If anyone out there is reading!
Next step: three hours in Tokyo, hopefully with the recording of a vlog on YouTube and then a six hour flight to Singapore, then hours either in the Singapore airport or breaking down and staying in a hotel…

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6 thoughts on “Reflections on Flying in the Modern Air

  1. GREG:

    I CAN TELL THAT IT’S BEEN A WHILE SINCE YOU’VE FLOWN O/S. YOU DIDN’T MENTION WHAT AIRLINE YOU WERE ON.

    TOKYO AIRPORT (IT’S ANOTHER NAME) IS A MARVELLOUS FACILITY AS IS HKG. IT WOULD HAVE BE A QUICKER FLT FOR YOU GOING VIA HKG/SINGAPOR, BUT THIS ONE WAS PROBABLY CHEAPER.

    THE ADVENTURE BEGINS !!!!

    ATHALIE

    Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2013 07:04:43 +0000 To: athaliebel@hotmail.com

  2. I’ve done a flight to Japan/Thailand/Cambodia before but that was before I developed a fear of being suspended in air (ferris wheels? no thanks) and large bodies of water… and before the discovery of Ambien. I wonder what it would be like now.

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