Killing time on air flights

They still do it or at least they did 2 months ago when I listen in on a flight from Chicago to Providence, RI. I am a perpetual flight student so I know a fair amount about ATC communications but I found it fascinating to see how one of the big boys communicates through the flight. On a true hour flight, communications were handed off like this:

O’Hare ground - O’Hare Tower - Chicago departure - Chicago center - Cleveland center - New York center - Boston center - Providence Tower - Providence ground

That is probably one true geeky thing.

I’ve got a Newark-Amsterdam flight coming up next month, and I fully expect to feel the same way. I’ve been saving some Xanax especially for this occasion.

Usually, on flights, I’m all about reading. I try to have a variety of books so I can just move to a different subject. I don’t know how people make it through long flights if they’re not readers.

Get a copy of Nethack and install it on your laptop. Be sure to download several pages of spoiler guides in TXT format. If possible, underclock your laptop’s processor in the BIOS before you depart to reduce power consumption, and be sure to turn off any unnecessary ports or peripherals. Rather than listening to CDs (lasers use lots of power!) just put on headphones and listen to the arm-jack radio. Some airlines have XM in-flight radio with ~100 channels, and failing that, you can listen to whatever movie is up. Most airline movies aren’t visually rich; you can listen to the movie and get 99% of what’s going on, while still killing plenty of trolls, ogres, basilisks, and so on.

Good luck getting the amulet of Yendor!

You are so right. Just turn the seat into a bed while fending off the stewardess and her urgent need to keep the champagne glass full is the way to go (guess who got upraded coming back from Frankfurt last week :stuck_out_tongue: )

This is my preferred method as well. Nothing like having a pretty stewardess poking you awake at your destination and telling you get your ass off the aircraft so they can get started with the turnaround.

Ditto with the sleeping. Something about engine noises and vibration, prop, jet or otherwise, that’ll knock my ass out almost instantly, for several hours.

On the few occasions that I have a touch of insomnia and can’t sleep (or have already slept for 5 or 6 hours and just don’t have any more left in me), I’ll just read.

Nintendo DS and any one of a few dozen games + 1 Games magazine + 1 book = all the entertainment you need for a flight.

I usually dress in my Indianna Jones costume and carry an old parchment looking map of the world, then I take a bright red grease pencil and sloooowly draw a red line from my departure point on the map to my end point in real time. While doing this I LOUDLY sing the theme song, “dah da-dah daaaa, dah dah DAH! da da dah daaaaah, dah da da daa DAH!!!..”

The time just flies.

That doesn’t work on cross-ocean flights, like the 13-hour plus one between Sydney and Los Angeles.

In the past I’ve taken books and a CD/MP3 player. More recently, I’ve bought a portable DVD player, with an extra battery, that’s really good both for long flights and for the hours that you spend hanging round airports.

A pack of miniature cards makes it possible to lay out a game of solitaire on those tiny airplane trays. If your seatmate is amenable, you can play gin rummy with mini or regular cards. And, geeks that we are, the hubby and I never travel anywhere without a folding cribbage board.

Oh, I forgot to add… I doubt that they do it anymore, but you used to be able to ask a flight attendant for a pack of cards. Entertainment, plus a keen souvenir! These days, it’s probably better to be prepared. Personally, I always have a deck of cards in my backpack, but I’m weird.

Lame joke: A deck of cards is essential in your survival kit. If you get lost in a deserted wilderness, you need only sit down and deal out a game of Klondike. In no time at all, some asshole will happen along and tell you that you can play the ten of clubs on the jack of diamonds.

Take your GPS reciever and set it next to the window. At least you’ll be able to see where you are, your airspeed and your ETA.

I usually take along a magazine, a puzzle book, a novel and some DVDs to watch.

If you are sitting in coach (I can so relate) then you may be able to watch movies on a laptop, depending on its size. However, if the person in front of you reclines, you’ll be S.O.L. because you won’t have enough lap room.

I’m flying from Cincinnati to Hawaii again this year and I’m taking a portable DVD player. The downside is the battery life and video quality. Nothing beats the quality of the laptop for video quality. I also cannot stress enough the need to get nice headphones. Even at max volume, it can be difficult to hear the DVDs over the engine/cabin noise. Noise reduction models are popular and reasonably priced.

Another thing I’ll be adding this year is my iPod loaded with a few audiobooks and maybe even some t.v. shows. I’ve read where some networks will be offering FREE downloads of their popular shows this fall. If that’s the case, I’ll definitely be loading up. The video is amazingly good on the little iPod screen and you’ll be able to watch it no matter whether the person in front of you is reclining.

On a 2-day trip last week that went from Newark-Dallas-San Diego-Portland-Dallas-Newark, I discovered the time wasting benefits of Sudoku.

When I used to go to sea I did a lot of flying to join ships in various countries. After a couple of years I came up with a basic method of passing time on planes.
Order Whisky…Repeat until overcome by sleep…Wake when plane lands.

Never failed :smiley:

There are supposed to be power cords which are supposedly designed to draw from power from the ports on airplanes (for laptops). (I used google and saw dozens of entries; I won’t annoy people with the links) I’m just not sure where the power ports are located on a plane. (armrest? back of seat? Blue-ice bombardier stalls*?)

*dropping them right down a chimney is harder than it looks. Might help if you shout, “You’re All Clear, Kid!” just beforehand.

It’s a book…It’s a non-volatile storage medium. It’s very rare. You should have one."

Yeah, but after the TomClancy 1.4.12.STABLE branch it really started to get slower and much less stable, and the 2.X version has just been way too top heavy and bloated. Still, it’s much preferred to MichaelCrichten 3.X+ and any version of JohnGrisham.


Probably not live, but I’ve been known to use wget to download a few layers deep of some archived webcomic or other site that I wanted to read, and then browse the local copy on the plane.

For the love of god, don’t do this to the dope. The hamsters would probably spontaneously combust.

Check your airline’s website for more info, but a lot of them are compatible with “Empower” adapaters. Here is what Delta’s has to say:

“Get more accomplished with your laptop by using Delta’s battery-saving EmPower™ system… When purchasing an adapter for your next Delta flight, check for compatibility with the EmPower system and your personal notebook brand. Adapters are available at many computer accessory retail stores,…”

Here’s an example of one

They used to only activate this several minutes after taking off, and shut it off well before landing. Now it seems to be gate-to-gate, which is much more interesting. I listened a couple months ago on a flight from Chicago to Boston.

The pilot got lost on the taxiways at O’Hare.