Life after lockdown: 8 things about flying I’m most looking forward to

Apr 1, 2020

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I’ve loved flying for as long as I can remember. Thanks to plane-watching trips to Newcastle Airport with my dad when I was young followed by my mum dropping me off there a few years later for my first-ever solo flight to visit family in Spain, I’ve been hooked. Like most TPG staffers, flying is one of the most important parts of my job, and one of the things I love to do the most, even when I’m not working.

Since I started social distancing around two weeks ago and the restrictions on travel have gotten even tighter, I’ve realised more than ever how much aviation and flying really means to me and it’s something that I miss more than I thought I would.

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By the time this is all over, who knows what the aviation industry will look like. But hopefully, most of the things that I miss the most will still be possible to experience again.

Related reading: Clearer skies ahead: The unexpected way that coronavirus is transforming the airline industry

(Photo by Dan Ross/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Dan Ross/The Points Guy)

1. Being inspired

Without sounding too cliché, it’s often when I’m in an airport or on a plane that I get inspiration for my next story. And it’s only while travelling that I get the chance to take those all-important AvGeek photos and videos. Travelling through an airport and being on a plane is when my senses are on highest alert: listening out for last call announcements to destinations I’ve never heard of, spotting a livery that I’ve never seen before (and sending it to the team to see if they can guess it) and eating and drinking the best, as well as the worst, that the industry has to offer.

Related reading: A review of the Concorde Room in Heathrow Terminal 5

I miss the constant exposure to all of those things and I can’t wait to feel inspired by the exciting world of aviation once again.

2. When the thrust kicks in

There’s no feeling quite like when you know your aircraft has just made its final turn of the taxi to the runway. You’re next in line for takeoff. Depending on air traffic control, there can be anything from a few seconds to a couple of minutes of waiting before the flight crew get the all-clear for takeoff. The suspense builds, the engines kick in — quietly at first, then a second or two later they’re set to full power. The plane jolts forward, you’re thrown back in your seat and the roaring engines can be heard over your favourite takeoff song playing through your headphones.

You’re on your way!

Arriving at the end of the runway at São Paulo (CGH) airport (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)
Arriving at the end of the runway at São Paulo (CGH) airport. (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

3. Plane food (and drinks)

I love food. And as someone who likes food, you might be surprised to hear that I love eating in airports and on planes. I’m not just talking about the fine dining I get to experience at the front of planes, either. Believe it or not, my love of plane food started as long ago as flying on Britannia and Monarch on family holidays when I was a kid, and I still love it now, even after sampling some of the best.

Here is one of my favourite meals that I’ve eaten in the last year:

As a Northern lad, I was so excited to see pie, mash and gravy on the menu on my first-ever flight with Virgin Atlantic from Manchester to Atlanta.

Related reading: British Airways suspending buy on board menu for short-haul flights

(Photo by Daniel Ross / The Points Guy)
Pie in the sky in Upper Class onboard Virgin Atlantic’s 747 from Manchester to Atlanta. (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

One of the ways I’m trying to offset my carbon footprint from travelling so much is by reducing my meat intake quite substantially. I rarely eat red meat anyway, but now, when there’s an option, I’ll choose the vegetarian or vegan choice when I’m flying or eating out.

(Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)
An evening meal of polenta onboard Delta’s 767 from LAX to JFK. (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

There’s also something about a gin and tonic in the sky that tastes so much better than on the ground, no?

4. Meeting new people

I’m not embarrassed to say it, I’m one of those people who gets chatty on a plane. If you’re lucky or unlucky enough (depending on how you see it) to sit next to me on a flight, the chances are I’ll find some way of striking up a conversation with you. One of the things that fascinates me the most about air travel is that a plane is filled with a finite number of people who are brought together for a finite amount of time during their individual journeys from A to B and will probably never be in the same place again ever, let alone sat next to each other on a plane.

Related reading: Pass the tissues: I’m a plane crier, and I’m proud of it

I’m actually still in touch with several of my “plane friends”, including one lovely Danish lady who I met on a flight from Amsterdam (AMS) to Minneapolis (MSP) on my journey from Newcastle (NCL) to Winnipeg (YWG) in Canada to see family. We synched our TV screens, ordered a gin and tonic and watched a film together, laughing and crying with each other as we journeyed across the Atlantic.

5. Exploring new places

Being on a plane to a country you’ve never been to before brings a different kind of excitement. I don’t tend to do much research before I head to a new destination as I don’t like to spoil it — I like having no idea what to expect.

Last year I was lucky enough to tick a few countries off my list — Ghana, Malta and Oman were three of my favourites for sure.

Related reading: A review of Oman Air economy on the 787 Dreamliner from London Heathrow to Muscat

When 2020 gets back to as normal as can be, I will be using my points and miles to get to the far-flung destinations of South Africa and Australia for the first time as well as Podgorica in Montenegro — a little bit closer to home.

Related reading: The 6 best ways to get to South Africa on points and miles

The dock at Port Douglas, Australia (Photo by John Crux Photography/Getty Images)
The dock at Port Douglas, Australia. (Photo by John Crux Photography/Getty Images)

6. Sunrise and sunset from the sky

Sunsets and sunrises are magical. I find them to be truly life-affirming and gives you a chance to pause and take stock of life and what’s around.

I’ve even gone as far as specifically booking a flight from Rio to São Paulo with a scheduled departure time just before sunset with a chance that I would get to see a beautiful moment over my favourite city in the world.

This was my reward…

My favourite ever sunset from the wing was captured this year as I flew from Rio de Janeiro (SDU) to São Paulo (CGH) in Brazil (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)
My favourite ever sunset from the wing was captured this year as I flew from Rio de Janeiro (SDU) to São Paulo (CGH) in Brazil. (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

7. Truly disconnecting

Disconnecting is the last thing most of us feel like doing in a world that’s currently practising social distancing. But when pre-coronavirus life was at its busiest, I loved nothing more than completely disconnecting when taking personal flights. Even if the Wi-Fi was free, I would only use my phone to take pictures out the window.

It’s important to disconnect and being a mile high in the sky is my favourite time to do it.

8. The 4 a.m. alarm

No, really. Getting up at daft o’clock in the morning to head to the airport has been one of my favourite things to do since I was a kid. The initial disbelief that it’s already time to wake up is usually quickly replaced by the excitement about the day of travel that lies ahead.

It’s probably safe to say that I’m likely to be one of a very small group of people who look forward to this, but I think most people would agree that waking up at 4 a.m to go to the airport is definitely better than to go to work?

Bottom line

With wanderlust levels for many of us sky high right now, it’s a great time to reflect on past adventures and plan for future ones. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we’re up in the air again soon and enjoying the magic of aviation and the adventure it brings.

Featured photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy.

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