I just spent 14 hours on a plane. Plenty of time for reflection on airplane interactions.
The environment on an enclosed and unnatural airplane is interesting. It is exclusionary because it excludes those who cannot afford the entry price. It is dictatorial because all who enter know they must follow the rules set by the airline and the various ruling bodies that set guidelines for airplane behavior. It is grueling for the attendants because of the fragile state of many of the passengers.
Airplane travel is stressful. Stressful for all who cross the passenger entryway.
Parents of young children are stressed because they worry that the other passengers will be annoyed by their children, they worry about the state of their children during the flight, they worry about what awaits them on the other side of the flight (visit to relatives, return to home, move to new destination, etc.), and they worry about regular worries (finances, health, etc.).
Business travelers are stressed because of deadlines, expectations from the employer and from family members (if they live with family) or other close people, worry, tiredness, and so on.
Vacationers are stressed from the preparations before, anticipation of what’s to come, and other personal concerns.
People with major health concerns (real and imaginary) are stressed from thoughts of what could happen to them during the flight.
People who fear flying are stressed on top of normal stress.
Lack of movement
“People are meant to move—at all ages, no matter the occupation, no matter the location. Restricting movement is a mistake.” … from Pond a Connected Existence.
If a flight is longer than 30 minutes, then people are not moving enough. The longer the flight, the more the suffering from lack of movement.
The body requires a certain amount of sleep, and airplane travel can significantly disturb this requirement. If time zones are crossed, the body doesn’t know how to process the time differences. Flights that depart during sleeping hours confuse the body and guarantee irregular sleep.
Traveling on an airplane presents many choices that can cause imbalance. Sitting by a person who is unlike oneself can be unsettling. Eating food that is not usually consumed can cause digestive issues. Sitting still when the body calls to walk around is a mistaken choice (except when the fasten seatbelt sign is on). Going onto the plane with negative emotions can lead to disruptive behavior during the flight, digestive upset, and unbecoming behavior towards other passengers. Rudeness towards other passengers is a choice that can lead to discomfort physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Electronic device undutifully influencing
Before electronic devices were so proliferated, passengers had more interaction with one another. Parents were forced to provide entertainment to their children (with help from some airlines). Passengers were forced to take breaks from work, notice others, and think. The electronic devices add some positive aspects, but they mostly distract from connection to others.
The connections that are created on flights may seem irrelevant, but they are not. Short encounters are often enriching and intellectually stimulating in ways that electronically delivered information is not. Yes Wikipedia is intellectually filling, but it is not enriching in the way that connecting with a plane-ride companion is. Being forced to encounter others of different backgrounds and experiences in a shared environment of stress, imbalanced choice possibilities, and regulations develops people in ways that are enlarging and without possibility in normal living.
How to remain balanced when flying
Tips for maintaining balance, even when the flight was started from a state of imbalance, will be presented in the next blog post.