As flying becomes such an easy and affordable mode of transport these days, is the romance of flying gone?
As a full-time travel writer and blogger, I travel a lot and spend almost 70% of my time on the road. Flying is by no means a mode of transportation for me.
Sadly, I’ve become a jaded flyer these days. It’s become a way to get from one place to another. I don’t bother chatting with fellow passengers, and I don’t even look out the aircraft window anymore.
But it wasn’t always like this.
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My First Flight
I remember the first time I flew. I was eleven and my parents brought me to Perth, Australia, for a family trip. The sheer idea of flying on a plane scared me to death yet enthralled me endlessly. Being transported from one end of the world to another on a huge flying machine? That was like stuff of a fantasy! How can such a massive machine made out of steel possibly fly such long distances?
Back then, flying was a luxury. Airfares weren’t as affordable as they are today. I felt privileged to be on a plane, with comfortable reclining seats, TV screens and even free food. The air stewardesses with their immaculately groomed outfit and makeup were incredible. I was blown away.
I spent the entire flight staring out of my window, looking at the world beneath me, counting the clouds and staring out into the blue. The sight of the plane’s engine rumbling up, wheels lifting off and the tarmac fading into the distance – and eventually the world whisking by faster than you know it – was pure magic.
Plane views from Mauritius – not every flight has such beautiful views
How My Love for Flying Blossomed
My love for flying grew as I started traveling the world. On my first solo flight, I flew all the way from Singapore to Miami with three stopovers and I could barely sleep on any. I was both nervous and excited about what was awaiting me at the end of the journey.
During the entire flight, I looked out through the plane window, admiring the view beneath and imagining how it would be like to be soaring through the sky with wings. This first trip made me fall head over heels with travel and it changed my life.
From then on, travel took over my life. Alberto and I set off to travel Europe once we graduated from university and we set up a home base in London while hopping all over the region to explore every weekend. I always looked forward to flying — it meant that I was traveling to somewhere new, somewhere exciting.
We traveled every chance we got: a romantic weekend in Paris, a birthday surprise in Venice, learning history in Athens, hanging out with friends in Marrakech etc. Flying wasn’t just a means to get somewhere, it was part of the adventure.
Meeting People When Flying
Another thing I loved about flying was meeting interesting people on the plane. Back then, I was eager to chat with fellow passengers, find out what their story was and why they were making that journey.
On my first flight to Europe, I met a Spanish couple who were returning from their honeymoon in Bali. After knowing that it was my first visit to Spain, they spent the rest of the flight sharing tips and amazing experiences from their country — it was the best introduction I could have gotten to Spain.
One conversation I would never forget was with a friendly American lady on a flight to Alaska. She shared with me stories of how she was involved in anti-war protests back in the ’50s. She showed me a photo of herself taken by a famous photographer during the protests and indeed I recognized that shot that has appeared in numerous papers. It was truly inspiring to meet someone like her who’s dedicated her entire life to making the world a better place.
Another time, I chatted with a nun from Madagascar enroute to Papua New Guinea. She had been living in Port Moresby doing missionary work for more than 10 years. I could sense her passion and conviction and she definitely inspired me to do more for this world.
Flying is no longer as glamorous as in the past
Gone Are Those Days
But let’s fast forward to today, I travel a lot for fun and on assignment as a full-time travel writer.
Flying has become just a mode of transport, a means to get me to my destination and nothing else. On the plane, I either work on my laptop, watch a movie or catch up on my sleep to make up for lost time. It’s no longer an adventure or an exciting journey. I can’t even remember when was the last time I sat staring out the window or befriended someone sitting beside me on the plane.
Let’s not forget the issues that come with frequent flying: Flight delays, loss of baggage and unpredictable flight cancellations — I’ve experienced them all.
In the past eight years as a full-time travel blogger, I’ve had to sleep countless nights at airports because of issues with flights; I’ve been bumped off so many flights involuntarily due to overbooking without getting any compensation; I’ve had my backpack lost in transition and then returned to me one month later EMPTY; I’ve had to pull out of a press trip at the last minute as I missed a connecting flight; And the list goes on.
I don’t seem to be the only one who’s lost enthusiasm for flying. Most people I know, frequent flyer or not, don’t look forward to flying anymore. As airlines continue to cut cost, the quality of in-flight service and comfort level are deteriorating. Nobody bothers striking up conversations with fellow passengers, and everyone seems to treasure their privacy more than anything.
It’s no secret that the romance of flying has disappeared, not just for myself but for most travelers. Flying has somehow evolved to become a means to an end, and it looks set to stay this way.
I don’t know if I will ever revive my love for flying but for now, I’m just going to hold on tight to those memories from my first few flights, those wonderful moments of wonder, awe and excitement…
Do you love flying? How was your first flying experience like? Please feel free to share your story in the comments section below.