10 Ridiculous Ways to Make Plane Trips Fun

On a flight home, I tried to make dinner a bit more fancy. A recent survey of people sitting next to me reveal that 100 percent of travelers don’t enjoy riding on planes.  (In an unrelated survey, 100 percent of travelers don’t like to be woken up to be asked survey questions.)

Plane rides suck. Or, at least that’s what we tell ourselves. But what if we didn’t see plane rides as a necessary evil, but rather as an opportunity to attempt the absurd (have fun). Planes aren’t going to change any time soon; they’ll still be small, cramped, and vaguely caste-based.  So, if we want to make plane rides more enjoyable, the burden lies with us.

With that in mind, I’ve tried to make every plane ride this summer an opportunity to try something new. Many of my attempts to make plane rides “exciting” have failed miserably (note to self:  Offering to help the flight attendants  serve dinner is less well-received than expected ). But many of the ones I’ve tried have made the past summers plane rides the most memorable of my life.

Plane rides shouldn’t be boring.

10 Ridiculous Ways to make Plane Trips Fun

1. Attempt to film, edit, and produce a video in the duration of the flight

    Creating a video combines three elements of having fun: intensity, ability to use your imagination, and the creation of something that you can look at/show in the future. Though this suggestion would be more difficult for a flight of only a couple hours, for any flight above 6-7 this is a very doable mini-project. My suggestion is that if you have friends split into teams and make a video competition.  Talk to your flight attendant early about your plan to create the video and think about making the videos into “silent films”. Ultimately, you want to be respectful to the other people on the flight. But even with that restriction, a one-flight video can be a ridiculous, fun way to spend your 12 hour trip.

2. Bring your own fine-china, and eat your airplane meal in style.

     One of the biggest complaints about riding on a plane is the terrible food. Though, there’s no denying the food quality is not exactly that of a Chef Boyardee (er, Gordan Ramsay. A large part of why airplane food is so terrible has to be the presentation. Though, we can’t change the food, we can change what we eat the food in. Bring a nice plate, silverware (no knife), a wine-glass, and a kerchief to put around your neck. Make your airplane meal into the highlight of the flight. (Note: This suggestion works particularly well if you are in economy class.  Though I have little evidence for this.I assume that everyone in first class carries a kerchief at all times, regardless).

3. Wear your favorite memorabilia

      This suggestion isn’t ridiculous, but it’s something I seriously hope you start doing. Every flight I’m not dressing up for, I’ve begun wearing either Harvard or University of Missouri (my home town) memorabilia. Luckily, in a plane ride you don’t have to worry about coming off as proud/arrogant (you won’t see anyone you don’t talk with again). However, if someone is in that same organization, you vastly increase the chance they will come talk with you. Via Harvard clothing I’ve met a couple of alumni of the college and through University of Missouri clothing I’ve met a number of high school students who are going to study there the following year.

4. Dress up (with a friend) as your favorite superhero pair 

     This is done best with another person. Personally, I suggest anything that involves a vague reference to lord of the rings, but the costume itself isn’t important. Dressing up for a flight is not obtrusive, is not dangerous, and makes the flight more memorable for you and for everyone else on the plane. The only precaution I have is to avoid wearing anything that covers your identity (i.e. Wookie costume is, sadly, probably not the way to go). Be creative, find something you want to be, and then go do it. Be the giant banana that you’ve always thought you were.

5. Create a second identity 

     On my most recent flight from Nanjing to Taiwan, I had the opportunity to become Taylour Saovourt. A 17 year old, badminton player from Oregon who had just lost in the first round of the Nanjing Youth Olympics. Not especially talented himself, Taylour lives off of the glory of his father (Daniel Savourt) a semi-professional badminton player from Finland.
     Creating a second identity is definitely one of the harder things to do on this list. It takes a bit of gall and a larger deal of commitment. Nonetheless, if you are okay with becoming a fool/potentially being discovered than I totally suggest it for a couple of flights. To be honest, this is most fun when done with friends (becoming a glee club, traveling Yo-yo performers, etc.). Think about who you want to be then commit. The memory will be well-worth the temporary nerves you may feel.

6.  Hold a hackathon with your friends on the plane 

    This is one suggestion I have wanted to do, but have yet been able to have the opportunity to do so. For reference, A hackathon is an event, generally lasting a number of days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.  A clear problem lies with lack of access to wifi on board. However, as wifi-access becomes the norm rather than the exception ) a hackathon becomes increasingly feasible.  (Recently, the FTA dropped restrictions on inflightuse of cellphones and tablets. As well, as GoGo wifi improves and airlines begin competing on wifi access this will become increasingly feasible)  .  Why think about plane rides as being sitting in one place for 13 hours, when you could think of it as a 600 mile-per-hour Hackathon? “Hack the Air”. make your plane ride with friends hard to forget.

7. Introduce yourself (by name) immediately to your seat-mates and flight attendant 

    Recently, I wrote about “Treating Strangers Like Friends” and  this still holds true for a flight. By introducing yourself immediately, and subsequently asking for the names of others, you become friendly acquaintances instead of silent seat-mates.  Introduce yourself to your seat mates, your flight attendant, and anyone who’ve caught your eye. It may end up that you don’t talk during the flight (which is fine), but it is also as likely that you’ll have an interesting conversation with someone from a completely different walk of life. This suggestion isn’t silly or over the top. But it’s something that can help make any flight significantly more memorable.

8. Bring a smock and oil paint a picture during the flight

    Warning: DON’T BRING PAINT OVER 3 oz!  Also, I strongly suggest using an oil based paint as opposed to water colors. This is really fun if you 1. Enjoy art/painting and 2. You are up for the challenge of trying to create a painting within the course of a flight. As always, ridiculous activities are more fun when you share them with others. Think about bringing a friend and painting a picture of them or vice-versa. Good luck and remember turbulence is part of the adventure.

9. Hold a sleeping contest with others 

     I’ll be honest, this suggestion is potentially illegal. Nonetheless, the contest requires over-the-counter sleeping medication, at least two people, and a good deal of good-humored trust. Each person takes one sleeping pill and the first person to fall asleep loses. Bring a friend, bring a blanket, and get ready to race. Which leads to the final suggestion…

10. Pimp out Your sleeping attire. 

     I’m talking earplugs, facial-mask, head pillow, pajama pants, downy-blanket, and a stuffed bear you’ve named Turtle. Of all the suggestions, this is the one with the lowest level of commitment for the highest amount of reward. Sleep in intense luxury and make your plane ride into something you won’t quickly forget.
      Plane rides should be something you look forward to not something that you dread. If you have any other suggestions for the list please put them in a comment at the bottom. My rules for this list are that they anything you do shouldn’t be illegal, rude, or dangerous at all. All of the things we do should not only be to make our trip more interesting, but also to make the trip for other more memorable. I hope you on your next flight you take me up on one of the suggestions and post what you thought of the experience. Making a plane trip something you look forward to isn’t going to be easy, but I think we have the responsibility to try.
      For after all, it’s the journey not the destination that matters.