When you board an international flight, it’s so disappointing to see those little screens hanging from the ceiling. The fantasy of watching two or three great movies on the plane is quickly shattered because even if they were showing something good, you could barely see it. Even if you see those back-of-the-seat screen, you still can’t count on a decent entertainment selection. But at least there’s hope.
So sure enough when I boarded my Delta flight from JFK to Stockholm, I saw those small suspended screens. It was clearly an older 767. But since I’m a bit of a nervous flyer, I decided to (internally) repeat the mantra: “I don’t need to watch movies. I just need to arrive safely.” It would be nice to arrive safely having watched some funny movies though.
I was flying with my husband and our 19-month-old son — so why was I worried about watching movies anyway? Because it was an overnight flight and I was counting on my son sleeping and my inability to sleep on redeyes. He went right to asleep, close to his regular bedtime. It was fantastic. I was unable to sleep except for maybe 30 minutes.
My original plan (after seeing the inflight entertainment situation) was to read my Stockholm guidebook. I had skimmed through it but now would be great time to really educate myself on the city where I would be spending the next three days. The lights were mostly turned off in the cabin so I had to switch on my overhead light. I had barely read to pages when my son started to stir. The light was bothering him so I shut it off immediately.
I looked around at my fellow insomniac passengers. Most of them had out iPads, Kindles and the like. My husband had fallen asleep listening to music on our iPad, but I didn’t even care because I hadn’t thought to download any books or movies to it except for two episodes of Sesame Street for my son to get us through the next 10 days. And as much as I like Sesame Street, I knew I’d have ample opportunity to watch it during the trip. If only I had downloaded one or two movies for myself!
Normally I waste time by looking at Facebook, but naturally there was no WiFi. So I had to revisit my iPhone apps and find one that didn’t need any kind of connection. Hello Brushes app (of New Yorker cover fame), the mobile painting app that used to entertain me on long subway rides.
I was too tired to think of something to paint, so I decided to make something abstract. It was fun and helped the time pass quickly. I felt very relaxed, especially because it was also a smooth flight (I hate turbulence although my toddler loves it). It was nice to spend a few hours with my old friend the Brushes app.
People are really providing their own inflight entertainment — and it’s completely customized to them. It got me thinking that perhaps airlines shouldn’t be spending all of that money upgrading to personal screens and entertainment systems. I bring my own food (even when it’s included on an international flight) so why shouldn’t I bring my own screen with a few movies that I’ve been eager to see, instead of hoping to hit the cinema jackpot? I don’t need a flying movie theater. I just want to arrive safely.
What kind of entertainment do you bring on the plane?