I am old enough to remember when airline travel was fun, an adventure and something to be looked forward to with excitement, even if you traveled a lot. Alas, not quite so nowadays. 9/11 has changed everything.
I have been traveling most of my life, visiting over 80 countries and living in eight of them. I have always enjoyed travel and treated it very much as both an education and a challenge. The education is what it teaches me about people and places. The challenge is the satisfaction of being able to navigate my way through the increasing number of barriers being erected that prevent smooth travel; such as security, punitive baggage fees, charges for anything consumable on the plane, and virtually anything else except use of the rest rooms. That’s coming too I hear.
So what are the reasons we should we fly? What are the 6 things flying helps teach us?
1. It Helps Us Build Our Relationship Skills
I, for one, like living in my own little bubble in my seat. But there have been times when I have ended up chatting to someone quite a bit during a flight and exchanging business cards or website addresses. But it’s not just the people we meet on the flight. We are forced to interact with dozens of people from check-in, to security to information, to gate personnel, to flight crew and passengers.
2. It Exposes Us to the Value of Customer Service
We are at the mercy of the airlines and never are we trapped quite so much as when we are on a plane. There is no alternative. We can’t get off, unless of course you have your own parachute AND know how to open the door. It’s not like we can go to an alternative if the service is slow. So, we get to see what customer service is really like right up close, and I believe it helps fashion our view of what is acceptable and what is not.
3. It Helps Sharpen Our Observation Levels
When we travel, we need our wits about us. We need to be able to know which Terminal to go to, which Gate to be at and at what time. We need to be able to keep up with changes in the flight times, Gate movements and the difference in boarding protocol practiced by different airlines. We need to be quick to see where our seat is and the available overhead space for our bags.
4. It Teaches Precision and Preparation
From the moment we plan the trip, we start thinking about the packing list. Nowadays we get charged for everything, so we have to be even more efficient about our item list so as not to incur baggage costs. We have to be precise from selecting the bag we will use to travel with to what we will pack. Packing is an art; not just the content, but the way we pack. Filling those gaps in an economic and cost-efficient manner is learned. Ensuring we have the right clothing for the right occasion with the right color combination can be a nerve-wracking ordeal.
The full-time Travelers tend to have bags pre-packed with a duplicate set of toiletries. One case of amazing organization and preparation comes from a CEO of Coca-Cola I knew that used to have a blue suitcase for colder climates and a red one for warmer, both of which were continually being packed and re-packed after trips. Others, like me, have a packing list that varies between vacation and business, and allows for one to thre nights, to seven and 14 days away.
5. It Tests Our Adaptability
According to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, at any one time in the U.S., there can be over 5,000 planes in the air. This means that there is a huge chance there will be a delay due to traffic congestion or a technical fault with the plane. Therefore, we have to be ready to juggle our schedules at a moments notice, often with limited contact opportunities. It can often mean changing our flights and then re-scheduling our meetings and social calendar. Every change has a knock-on effect and the more packed the schedule is, the more adjustments have to be made.
6. It Makes Us Patient
I hate not being in control – of anything. And in a plane, I’m not. I can’t fly it and I’m not part of the cabin crew. I am literally a passenger with no contribution to make other than to sit in my seat and wait for the plane to get to it’s destination. I can’t get on the plane quicker than my seating allocation or ground crew allows me to. I can’t push an accelerator and make the plane go faster or slow it down by braking. I am in the hands of others for service, delays and food choice. I have learned to be patient.
So those are my 6 things I think flying helps us with. I am sure there must be more, so let me know if you have some others. In the meantime, enjoy your flights and hopefully you have a new view of your flying experience. Safe travels!