Flying, headphones and high-altitude buddies

When flying on planes, I’m not one for chit chat. If truth be told I’m more of a “hi how are you” kind of guy and then the headphones go in. 

Joys of Air Travel

Even before arriving to the airport I’ve already chosen and listening to my playlist. You see, I actually find air travel quite invasive and a bit of a chore. I don’t want to hear babies crying, people chatting or announcements from staff. I want to disappear into my own space with a good movie and block out the world, until I arrive back down onto it.

However, recently I met a rather awesome guy and the least likely of high-altitude friends. My colleagues and I turned up late for the plane, dripping in sweat and full of Bloody Mary’s. The excellent pub conversation and laughter caught us off guard and we had to run like the wind to beat the closing gate. 

When I sat down I said the obligatory “hello” and ruminated in the glow of an empty seat beside me and extra leg space. At first the guy beside me seemed equally as happy with the lack of conversation…but then it happened, he asked what I did for a living. 

I gave him the quick spiel which I had down pat as I was on a business trip to a trade show. However, when I returned the favour, he gave me the extended mega-mix version with blow by blow detail of inner company politics. In truth, he was a super interesting guy and built Rolls Royce engines for planes. So I broke my own rule and asked more questions. 

This went on until my colleague popped over to chat and to recommend a film. But as he walked away, my new amigo leaned in and said it was rubbish. He said if I wanted to lose two hours of my life then to watch it, but if I wanted a comedy I should watch ‘Why Him’ which he guaranteed I would like. So I took his advice and the headphones went in; that was the end of our conversation.

A few more red wines later and I was giggling like a school boy on a scout trip. As I looked over I could see he was watching the movie again and also laughing wildly. Over the course of 2 hours, we communicated through a series of hand gesticulations and wide smiles and I found myself warming to him. We were talking but it wasn’t deep conversation; we were close but there was an empty seat dividing us; and we had bonded over a movie and similar drink choices. 

It wasn’t until the movie ended that we solidified our new friendship by offering to order each other a free drink. I ordered him a red wine and he ordered me two Bloody Mary’s. Then we chatted and laughed the entire way to Washington DC. He talked about his family a bit but it was primarily superficial chit chat. The type you have with your mates in the pub. Vague and without any of the political correctness I expected.

Then, just like that we landed and we said our goodbyes. It left me questioning if my typical flying behaviour is too unfriendly. If I am closing myself off from meeting loads of new frequent flyers. Now in all honesty, I don’t see myself changing my ways and perhaps I only took out my headphones because there were no screaming babies on the flight. However, it will make me turn to my left or right in the future, and imagine if the person invading my personal space is my new high-altitude buddy.

Disclaimer: No travel bloggers were harmed in the making of this blog but there was a very dirty hangover the morning after in one of Americas finest cities.

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