Cultivating the art of airplane zen, chronicle of unsuccessful attempts


Let me be perfectly clear: I AM that person you hate on the airplane.



Not the screaming baby, or the overly familiar sleeper but in virtually every other way I am the worst.

It is likely unsurprisingly to most that I foster irrational fears of a disproportionate amount of things. Basically anything that I don’t have direct control over. Spiders, elevators, asteroids, jewish people..Kidding!

I am not scared of elevators*

Oh yeah, and airplanes.

A giant metal object projecting itself into the sky at 740MPH, higher than any creature should ever reside is admittedly a convenient feature of modern society but equally terrifying! I have nightmares about airplanes, I had one last night.



When I google “airplane dream” things like this come up:


Airplanes To see an airplane in your dream indicates that you will overcome your obstacles and rise to a new level of prominence and status. You may experience a higher consciousness, new-found freedom and greater awareness. Perhaps you need to gain a better perspective or wider view on something. If the airplane is taking off, then it suggests that an idea or plan is about to “take off” and be put into action. It may also represent your need to get away and escape from your daily life. Dreaming that the airplane sits on the runway and never takes off refers to a real life project or idea that has failed to get off the ground. You are having difficulties getting started on a project.To dream that you are flying an airplane suggests that you are in complete control of your destination in life. You are confident and self-assured in your decisions and accomplishments.

To dream that you miss your flight or a connection or that it was cancelled indicates that you are feeling helpless and trapped by some situation. You feel that you are being held back, either physically or mentally. Alternatively, the dream may also suggest that you are feeling disconnected in some aspect of your life – work, relationship or home life.

Which I would really love to believe, but I think it is more indicative of how much I hate airplanes. My stress-dreams involve airplanes, elevators, and fiery deaths.


Dear future plane companions,

Let me have the aisle seat, because using the restroom every twenty minutes is a sure thing, as is white-knuckle gripping the seat rest at the slightest turbulence.


I told you, I am your worst nightmare.



Over the years I have created some coping mechanisms to assist with this paralyzing fear of all things flight-related.

I always keep a close eye on the the behavior of the flight attendants. If they seem chill, then I will do my best to employ the use of anxiety-alleviating breathing exercises I periodically google. If the pilot tells them to sit down, all bets are off, shit is going down and crying may or may not ensue.


Another highly effective method is to drink a lot, and immediately. Says every alcoholic, ever. This is particularly easy on trans-atlantic flights where beer and (shitty) wine are free and offered at frequent intervals. The ten dollar whiskey ginger in the Salt Lake City airport is justified when you will be spending nothing on the airplane, assuming you are flying Delta and not Iceland Air who are incredibly affordable but starve you unless you choose to buy Icelandic yogurt for a pint of blood or a sandwich for the one time payment of your soul.

I am naturally inclined to make up conspiracy stories about the patrons surrounding me, unfairly accusing them of plotting to take the plane down based on their choice of blatantly ironic army attire or their darting glances towards the front of the plane. Or the family sitting next to me peacefully sleeping upon one another (bastards), the Greek-Orthodox ministers, you name it, no one is innocent until proven guilty in my convoluted brain. Upon boarding, identification of potential air marshals, emergency exits, and the strongest fellow passengers (in case we need to band together to fight a terrorist) is then followed by the ritual re-reading of the safety information that has not changed since before my birth.


I think I am the sole attentive viewer of the required safety video displaying an obsessive alertness reserved for only life threatening situations, making me an expert on how to buckle a seatbelt properly and how to put the mask on myself before helping anyone else. Which duh, I would do anyway because I quite enjoy the sensation of breathing.

Delta’s new video makes light of all these antiquated and well-known safety advisements but I do NOT appreciate joking about potentially life-saving information. Screw you Delta, I would like to know where precisely my floatation device is located sans-cheek

Earplugs are instrumental to my survival in that they facilitate my most important strategy of all. I just pop in those babies, close my eyes, and picture something not airplane shaped.

I make up scenarios about soothing activities, like laundry. Being in the laundry room, which is also a country music concert in a bathtub. Doesn’t matter that I don’t particularly enjoy country music, because I am there. And so is Moby. And we are practicing magic because of our upcoming trip to Hogwarts. My clothes are being cleaned, while I sleep in a tent drinking tea while outside is Mt. Kilimanjaro. I’m knitting a hat in space, eating a hotdog in Bermuda, drinking champagne and eating pizza on New Years Eve in Times Square. I’m on a ski lift going up the largest mountain in the world, it takes an hour to get to the top, and the ski lift is a small house where you can see all the views but hang out in a cabin environment. I am driving an RV through Africa, it’s a safari but a safari with only mutant humans like in X-Men.

And then, in a magical blur of snacks and aluminum trays of heated airplane food we are about to land and I didn’t even get to watch the movies I scrolled through for half an hour but failed to commit to viewing and now I’m okay with flying and we can keep going if we need to because customs is a bitch and I don’t want to have to pick up my bag and use public transport to get to my land destination, or unpack.

Stay tuned for part two, an anthropological study of airports 


*for the record, I am not scared of Jewish people. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but just in case..let it be noted that is a joke.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: