I will never forget the first time I flew. It was 1967, and we were on a Canadian Air Force plane. Four propellers carried us across the Atlantic toward Europe, while my siblings and I sat around a table, colouring and playing board games. I was smitten.
Fast forward 40 years. A few days ago, I would have confessed that I had become a jaded traveler. Lots and lots of flights to four continents, delivering speeches about how to find meaning in our work, combined with the new realities of air travel, had squeezed all the joy out of the experience for me.
But then two things happened.
First, on a flight out of Toronto, I sat across the aisle from a young mother and her two children -- a girl about 6 and a boy perhaps 8 years old. When our plane took off -- when we felt the thrust and lift-off so familiar to those of us who have flown a million times -- the little ones let out an astonished "whee!" And the entire plane erupted into delighted laughter.
On a second aircraft -- this one out of LA -- the entertainment system wasn't working. This meant that the passengers actually talked to one another and looked out the windows at the spectacular scenery below. Even the captain got into it, pointing out which state we were flying over and naming the mountain ranges. When was the last time you heard that kind of running commentary?
I came off each flight grinning. And you could see the difference in the faces of the crew, too.
It's not that flying is going to become easier (the airline industry continues to face tough times), but I wonder if we might find new ways to embrace the voyage -- to discover small corners of pleasure in what has become a boring and unpleasant experience.
If you want to laugh about it all, you might try Henry Mintzberg's classic, "The Flying Circus: Tales of a Tormented Traveller." It's a hilarious rant and a great outlet for our frustrations. (Mintzberg is a Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University in Montreal, and a fellow HuffPost blogger.)
In fact, let's exchange stories here and now. What are your best and worst air travel tales? What delighted you? What drove you out of your mind? Tell us about the first time you flew, and maybe even the time you swore you'd never get on a plane again. We're all ears!
Julia Moulden is an author, speaker and columnist.
The "Ripe" countdown has begun! My new book will be launched in just a few weeks. Watch for the first column about "Ripe: Rich, Rewarding Work After 50" -- a 12-week course on discovering passion, purpose and possibility at midlife.
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