The Truth About Flying

Many moons ago, when the Gutenberg was just a twinkle in Johannes’ eye, I thought travel was exciting, exotic and glamourous.

Now that I fly roughly every few weeks and have survived Paris CDG on more than one occasion, with my hair intact (though perhaps less so my sanity), I have realised that it is the height of tedium.

Or, as Orson Welles so succinctly put it, “There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.”

Except now even the terror is diminishing as I start snoozing while the plane is still chuntering around the runway.

I will be flying again later this month to Norway and with a 5 hour stop-over in Oslo (too short to tour, too long toΒ escapeΒ abject boredom) and even the prospect of a breezy Bergen does little to quell my disdain at the getting-there part.

But mirth is at hand as The Oatmeal parodies the trials and tribulations of air-travel with aplomb:

Enjoy, and try to resist a sly smirk the next time you fly πŸ™‚

103 comments on “The Truth About Flying

  1. Haitham
    September 3, 2010

    You remind me of a song called “Flyentology” by Trent Reznor and El-P, but the song is a little bit deeper than what you wrote here!

  2. MummyT
    September 3, 2010

    I think it’s a sign of a seasoned traveller that you can get on almost any mode of transport and go to sleep. My nine-year-old son and I are travelling longterm. And he can sleep on any vehicle you care to name. Just wish he didn’t do it on the back of a motorbike…


  3. lifeintheboomerlane
    September 3, 2010

    I was actually laughing out loud as I was reading this, something I almost never do. I’m headed for the airport in a few hours, so here’s one I would add:
    Annoying: Always having to go through a pat down in the glass box because I have an artificial knee that sets off the metal detector.
    More Annoying: Having to wait for the person in front of me being patted down who is always wearing a belt, a secret money pouch (for travel to Seattle), a clip on laptop, and assorted other metalic devices they “forgot” to take off while in line.

    • wealleatpie
      September 4, 2010

      So True! This is a great post. I fly a lot with work and always seem to get stuck behind the guy who stands in line “watching” everyone empty their pockets and take off their belts ready to go through the security check without doing so himself until he’s at the metal detector!! So annoying!

  4. Oh, The Oatmeal. He is a disturbed man. πŸ™‚

  5. Amy Carson
    September 3, 2010

    Thank you for making me laugh πŸ™‚ Love the Oatmeal.

    Good luck with your future travels!

  6. packers movers delhi
    September 3, 2010

    I have realised that it is the height of tedium.

  7. Todd Pack
    September 3, 2010

    I’m always amazed at how much effort the airlines put into making the whole flying experience so awful. I mean, you really have to go out of your way to make your customers that unhappy and that uncomfortable.

  8. transamrail
    September 3, 2010

    Things are the way they are because very wealthy bastards made them that way long ago.

    It is a reason we are trying to develop momentum behind the idea of a true high-speed rail from Alaska to Uruguay, with the promise of opening up the Americas much as the EU did for Europe in its creation.

    On a train you can smirk while you sleep in an actual bed.

    Cheers my friend, and thank you for having the cajoles to say out loud what is killing the USA.

  9. schnapper
    September 3, 2010

    Just out of interest, what career do you have to get so many travelling opportunities?

  10. Rex Raymond
    September 3, 2010

    There is a moment just after take-off when the whir of the engines seems to momentarily stop and the huge jet plane seems to just hang in the air all by itself… That, for some reason, terrifies me! You are right! The more you travel by air the less the terror affects you. Whenever there is a shudder to the plane’s giant frame, I do what logic dictates I do: look at the stewardesses! If they go about their business like nothing just happened (nothing!!!! the plane shook!!!!) then everything must be OK!

    Rex Raymond

    • truthspew
      September 4, 2010

      Or you’ve flown enough on different types of aircraft that you know exactly what all the shudders and bumps actually indicate.

      I hate flying. It isn’t because I’m scared of flying. I just hate the general hassle of it.

      But I take proactive measures to both ease my passage and to annoy the TSA idiots. For example, when traveling it’s a pair of jeans with a t-shirt or a sweater, and loafers. No belts. None at all.

      But my revenge – I remove the laptop from the backpack. My keys, and wallet are stashed in the backpack along with other interesting bits like wires, passive components and an Arduino development board. For the cherry on top it’s a pound of peanut M&M’s. They take an extra long look at it but never stop me.

      I’ve thought about a giant dildo in there but then I might have crossed a line.

  11. bradenbost
    September 3, 2010

    Thank you very much. Not only is that relevant since I’ll be on a plane in a week, but you have given me a site to significantly slow down my production at work today.

  12. John in France
    September 3, 2010

    I fly regularly from New Zealand to France which is over 30 hours sitting in an aeroplane seat!! I love it, but you have to make yourself love it, if you know what I mean, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. I make a point of enjoying my meals, the movies etc. I’ve just finished one long flight, and my reward now is four glorious weeks in France, before heading back again to my home in New Zealand. I can do this cycle four times a year!!!! Chees John

  13. She.Is.Just.A.Rat
    September 3, 2010

    TheOatmeal always gets it right! I have yet to fly more than a couple hours at a time…but agree. It gets old quick. Enjoy your flight to Norway!

  14. notesfromrumbleycottage
    September 3, 2010

    I think I liked the final the one the best. Not that I travel much but I can really see someone doing this.

  15. amybeth1
    September 3, 2010

    I fly weekly for my job, there is nothing glamorous or chic about it. It is exhausting!

  16. Thomas
    September 3, 2010

    I agree. It’s gotten to the point where I should just show up naked for security and get dressed after passing through the scanners. Look what else is coming. Pay toilets on planes:

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  18. lbwong
    September 3, 2010

    I’ve always wanted a job that would allow me to travel! Yet, I know there are some drawbacks such as the ones you mentioned. Hope the stop-over goes by quickly, perhaps enough time for a couple more Freshly Pressed posts?!? Congrats and TY for the nice read! LB

  19. beckyyk
    September 3, 2010

    i only fly occasionally, but book a lot of travel for my boss who is always coming and going for productions. I feel that would eventually get bored/just worrisome. hand in there.

  20. theonlygringoonthebus
    September 3, 2010

    Excellent, thanks for the link. My sentiments exactly on flying and airports, which seem to do everything for their own benefit rather than the customers’. So much for being a service industry!

  21. CrystalSpins
    September 3, 2010

    Ah ha ha ha ah! I’m travelling to NYC at the end of this month and I’m sure this will be on my mind as I go. Thank you for sharing!


  22. Dakota
    September 3, 2010

    Interesting article, I must say. And you passengers think you have it rough with “the crap you have to put up with getting on and off a plane”. You should try what it’s like having to deal with all of you, who get on and off the plane. LOL

    – From a flight attendant.

  23. adamsads
    September 3, 2010

    This comic is awesome. I love The Oatmeal.

  24. mmills7
    September 3, 2010

    woah this is crazy

  25. Summer
    September 3, 2010

    nice post!!


  26. ancientfoods
    September 3, 2010

    It’s so bad I don not even want to travel anymore by plane! I can say this with regret as I used to work for TWA , and it was fun to travel-not any more

  27. Angelia Sims
    September 3, 2010

    HA-liarious! As a travel agent, and traveler. The Oatmeal is spot on. Loved it!

    If only I could be so funny in re-telling the crazy stuff we hear on the phone. πŸ™‚ Air travel a class all on it’s own.

  28. Courtney
    September 3, 2010

    hahaha so true!

    You’re either bored out of your mind on a plane, or on the verge of screaming because of the “mild turbulance.”

  29. gmomj
    September 3, 2010

    May I suggest taking a book to Oslo???

    I agree with the extra baggage charge just not right.
    But if some of these measures makes one person rethink doing a naughty deed on an airplane then it’s worth the hassle…wouldn’t you agree?

  30. hollythestrange
    September 3, 2010

    That Oatmeal site has it right! I love going on holiday, but occupying time on the plane can be hard. Especially when it’s not got seat back TVs with movies on demande, with a rubbish in-flight movie playing! I usually just sleep on planes.

    The most annoying thing on a plane: Sitting next to irritating younger siblings who wont shut up!

  31. bagnidilucca
    September 3, 2010

    I love this post! I actually don’t mind flying – and I do it quite a lot, long haul at that. You just have to adjust your mind set. The way I look at it is this. You get on a plane, sit down, read a book, watch a movie, they bring you food, have a snooze and you end up somewhere great. What’s not to like?

  32. santasown
    September 3, 2010

    To ease my flight anxieties and pass the time, I usually pop in one of those drowsy allergy pills. Those will definitely put me to sleep. lol

  33. EmilyConner
    September 3, 2010

    Or you can always chat up the cute guy next to you:)

  34. Whirlwind of emotions
    September 3, 2010

    I have to agree absolutely with Orson Welles, and in my case, boredom is always the prevailing emotion when flying. Great post and lovely writing! πŸ™‚

  35. Kristin Beauchamp
    September 3, 2010

    LOL! I totally relate!
    Thanks for making me laugh in spite of the terrible service airlines provide.

  36. soniclizzz
    September 3, 2010

    When you DO arrive in “Oslo”, you’re in for a bit of a surprise. You see, the “Oslo” plane station is stationed quite a long way out of Oslo. It’s pretty much out on the country. I myself live in Norway and uses the “Oslo” station(s). They’re both very nice in each their way (either if you’re going to Gardermoen or Torp), but they’re not really central to…anything.

  37. leighton
    September 3, 2010

    I haven;t had to fly in a long time, but you do make me wistful for when I found travel tedious because it was boring rather than tedious due to the way it always ended up for me.

  38. Sunflowerdiva
    September 3, 2010

    Boredom and terror… I absolutely agree with you on that!

  39. Molly
    September 3, 2010

    I’m a fellow Paris CDG survivor, is there a support group for us?!

    I totally get where you’re coming from but now that I’m more grounded and not travelling as much I really miss it πŸ™‚ So I have a bit of a love hate relationships with airports and planes. In this part of life, it’s about the destination, not the journey!

    Safe travels πŸ™‚

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  41. Emily
    September 4, 2010

    When I think about how sucky it is to fly (like when my plane gets delayed, delayed, delayed and then canceled like yesterday)… I try to remind myself that I am experiencing “the miracle of flight.” Check out this quick clip… kind of puts things in perspective (and is pretty funny!)!

  42. The Literate Pen
    September 4, 2010

    But they serve such wonderful pretzels for all that trouble!

  43. leavemehere
    September 4, 2010

    I’m sitting in Budapest Terminal 1, waiting for my flight to Goteborg, Sweden. At least the internet is free.

  44. I HAD to send this to my mother, who is on a plane AT LEAST once every two weeks. She just about pissed herself when she read the jokes on the link!

  45. sayitinasong
    September 4, 2010

    Granted I do not fly that much, but I wish I could sleep on the plane…I have to say, the thought of some very long plane trips do put me off when planning holidays…lol

  46. hughmason
    September 4, 2010

    I think it’s all a con to extract money from us and actually the world is not laid out anything like the airlines would have us believe.

    Fact 1: Wherever you get on an aircraft in the world, you go through the same thin metal tube with a bunch of strangers, then you sit down in a slightly larger tube for several hours.

    Fact 2: You are jiggled about and watch movies you didn’t really want to see anyway.

    Fact 3: You have a choice of chicken or beef. Then,

    Fact 4: you are squirted off down a remarkably similar thin metal tube into an airport that looks just like the one you started in.

  47. ironyonhighheels
    September 4, 2010

    5 hours at Gardermoen? My condolences! πŸ˜‰
    Actually if you take the Airport train it only takes 20 min into the city center. And you can see the most important things in 2 hours. It’ll only costs you a bit. A ticket is 190,- NOK each way.

  48. kittylwrenphotography
    September 4, 2010

    So true indeed! I travel a lot for my work, and on my last flight worked out all my travel statistics, and one scary one was that I have done the flight between London and Melbourne 15 times, that’s 60 shitty meals and 360 hours in the sky stuck in economy, but I do love to travel. I landed on Friday night and just had to book another flight for my work.

    One thing that I have finally worked out is who buys the giant Toblerone bars in the duty free stores, I could never work this out until I was sitting next to a women on a flight from London to Honk Kong who managed two eat 2 of the mega sized bars.

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  50. VintageMinx
    September 4, 2010

    I used to be terrified of flying, absolutely terrified. Then I entered into a long-distance relationship with my now-husband, and I knew that I’d have to get comfortable with him if I wanted it to work. It was the strangest thing – I was able, somehow, to tell myself that I wasn’t afraid, and I simply wasn’t anymore. I guess that’s the power of love.

    Doesn’t mean I wasn’t highly annoyed a lot, though. Funny stuff. I don’t have to travel to see my husband anymore (thankfully), but I remember well the frustrations. I made my life easy and just checked all baggage (never more than one bag), because I was sick of trying to find room in the overhead bins. If you sit towards the front of the plane, forget it – you won’t find any room overhead. I never was able to avoid the armrest hogs or the talkers. OR those who had this nice, contant cough or sneeze thing going the entire trip. I agree about the “standers” the moment the plane stops. One commenter’s point about that moment that the plane’s engines seemed to stall and you felt that momentary “hang” in the air – that still was able to cause a little fear. I invariably also sat in front of the kid who kicked the back of my seat continually.

    It goes on and on, ad nauseam.

    Now I only have to travel occasionally for business, thankfully. I’m awaiting the day I’ll have to pay a quarter to use the plane’s restroom. It’s coming, just you wait!

  51. Classic
    September 4, 2010

    Ah! I hate flying, I hope I never get on another plane long as I live…

  52. sarahnsh
    September 4, 2010

    I love looking out the window when I’m flying, especially when it’s clear and I’m going over mountains and stuff. I’m just like a dog poking its head out of the car to feel the wind, except I just like to see the clouds from so far up and how everything looks like an ant farm.

  53. wicklessrbbrown
    September 4, 2010

    I dread flying! The long wait times and luggage, but I also understand the need for regulations. I just try to get through it.

  54. Katryna
    September 4, 2010

    HAHAHHAHAHAHAA!!!!! Hilarious!!!!

  55. Harry England
    September 4, 2010

    Haha, very true! Especially liked the last one πŸ™‚

  56. truthspew
    September 4, 2010

    In general flying sucks these days. It’s like riding public transit on the ground only worse as you suffer the indignities of the security theater we call TSA.

  57. thetravelingirl
    September 4, 2010

    Lol @ “Now that I fly roughly every few weeks and have survived Paris CDG on more than one occasion”. Is that THAT bad? I’m from Paris, travel there often too but didn’t know it was the worst airport ever!

  58. sage18
    September 4, 2010

    This is great.

    I used to feel the same about flying. Now every time I go on a plane I hyperventalate at taking of and landing, and spend the rest of the trip complaining about how cold it is.

    Good luck on your flight to Norway!

  59. itsstrangelyme
    September 4, 2010

    Because I only fly once every few years, I still love flying. I love the food, I love the sleep (yes I can sleep on a plane, 8 hours straight once). It’s just very exciting for me.

  60. spirithere
    September 4, 2010

    Great post… Good luck with your next flights

  61. natinanorton
    September 5, 2010

    That was hilarious! Thanks for passing it on!

    Though I don’t consider myself the biggest fan of terror, there’s nothing like a good jolt on a flight to make you appreciate life. On a recent trip from Europe to the states, our pilot had to take an approach further north which took us just 100 km from that pesky Icelandic volcano. We could actually see the ash cloud from it and just as it disappeared from view, the plane took a steep dip to the right. Half the plane FREAKED and I started looking for my flotation device! We recovered quickly, but I was never so happy to touch ground in my life!


  62. Junior Jeweler
    September 5, 2010

    The food on the plane isn’t the best either!

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  64. sentientof2814
    September 5, 2010

    Goodness, this is all so true.

    I travel quite a bit, and the people getting off the plane ALL AT ONCE bugs me the most.

  65. heebongkim
    September 5, 2010

    I can really relate to the image. My legs feel like jello when I get off a plane.

  66. babbleq8
    September 5, 2010

    The crap we put up with is nothing to do with food, delays etc… the crap all comes from Bush, thank him… if he hadn’t messed up, we wouldn’t have so much crap to deal with.

  67. thethoughtherder
    September 5, 2010

    I find the more I head through the major hubs the easier it gets to just ‘ghost’ through them barely awake and just smiling and nodding at people when the moment requires it.

    I’m a terrible sleeper and planes are certainly more difficult to sleep in than my bed, so I’m normally on autopilot. My last transatlantic flight heading back from heathrow and got stuck beside an overweight woman with bad gas who promptly got drunk and then sang loudly at times during her 8 hour Sudoku session.

    Its the people that make it entertaining, not the touch screen TVs.

  68. Savays
    September 5, 2010

    I love planes and all that stuff!!! Great post!

  69. tokobetsu
    September 5, 2010

    That was awesome! thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

  70. cande84
    September 5, 2010

    I find this post so funny! thank you for sharing your experience! I like fly so much and I think the most important thing about flying is the possibility to watch the world from another prospective impossible to any person in past eras.
    Watch the dawn and sunset from that altitud is the most beautiful thing…so all depends the moment. Anyway then comes the airport, always comes…I know is not beautiful make all this think you have to do at the airport any time you fly! but I think this worth.


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  72. MatthewW
    September 5, 2010

    I enjoy flying just because of skymall thing.

  73. SmilingNorwegianGirl
    September 5, 2010

    Norway ❀

    Thanks for sharing, you made me laugh! πŸ˜€

  74. gypsyjetsetter
    September 5, 2010

    Very clever! The more the airline industry makes traveling uncomfortable for passengers, the more we need to vent about it. It’s a shame the way passengers are treated nowadays – whatever happened to the days when flying was a luxury and passengers were treated like 5* hotel guests?

  75. terryhall
    September 5, 2010

    Great post!

  76. ZanaD
    September 5, 2010

    This is an awesome article!

  77. sociosound
    September 5, 2010

    LOL.. nice post and congrats on being freshly pressed πŸ™‚

    I love the Welles quote, and I love the subtext of your blog title – right on !

  78. singlewomenover40
    September 5, 2010

    I think everyone who flies needs to relax, and be thankful they made it to their destination safely. It takes years and many many hours to become a commercial airline pilot. If people had any idea the hard work and dedication it takes to become a pilot (especially a military pilot) I believe they would stop their whining and thank the airline for their service. Lose the sense of entitilement, and realize how amazing it is that we are able to fly anywhere, anytime and get there safely.

  79. Nikki J
    September 6, 2010

    I’ve been flying since I was a kid. It’s like second nature. Absolutely amazing… how can u sleep dude? You’re way above everyone. Stop not seeing stuff right in front of you. It takes away the fun.

    By the way, Here’s my blog.

  80. pandrozo
    September 6, 2010


  81. eunice31
    September 6, 2010

    I remember applying for a ground stewardess job and the interviewer asked me if I wanted to be a flight stewardess, I immediately said NO. I don’t enjoy being on the plane, it scares me sad to say. All I could ever think of the whole flight is to get to the destination safely. But a lot of people seem to be very comfortable on the plane. Good for them…

  82. Bidhan
    September 6, 2010

    great one!

  83. captgabe
    September 6, 2010

    Aviation has made the world smaller!!! just get a window seat and enjoy!! =]

  84. bernard77
    September 6, 2010

    I have 30 years working in the airlines which consists of DC3 aircraft up to B747.
    The work is very exciting and glamorous because can travel around the world on annual leave where we want to go alongwith the family. But after the 80’s the situation changed with the tight security check and terminal gates layout either in Atlanta, CDG, Los Angeles and Shanghai consist of very many boarding gates and far away and despites facilities such sky train etc. that makes passengers deadly tired before boarding especially if you are trying to catch a flight. Recently I flew from Shenzhen to Singapore transit in Shanghai ,security check in layers so make us bored and stressed. In China and in Indonesia, passengers tend to be rushed to retrieve their baggage while the plane has not been complete stopped perfectly.

  85. isaid
    September 6, 2010

    I have never been on a plane. Now I know when I’m in fear I’m feeling the better feeling. Boredom kills me.

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  87. davidpj
    September 6, 2010

    Nah. Transit might be tedious, but flying is amazing. I flew up through three layers of cloud strata the other week and got to watch the sun rise three times in a row. That’s the opposite of tedium – that’s fantastic! Let your inner child run free!

    Of course, airports are another matter.

  88. roads
    September 6, 2010

    I’m with your earlier commenter. Just take the airport express train into Oslo. A half hour walk around the city will take in Oslo Theatre, the harbourfront at Aker Brygge and the Nobel Peace Centre.

    You can save the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and the Munch Museum for next time…

  89. atheistquotes
    September 6, 2010


  90. Sarah Lam
    September 6, 2010

    I have never been on a plane before and reading this just gives me the chills of going on and off a plane…

  91. candid_cactus
    September 6, 2010

    How privileged are you to have flown so much that you now describe it as being ‘boring’!

  92. cecilie roaldset
    September 6, 2010

    if you have a 5 hr layover in Oslo there is a 15 minute bullet train that takes you right into the city. Oslo is pretty small so you could see some stuff before you’re next flight. Oatmeal rulz.

  93. Marcea
    September 7, 2010

    If it’s any of help, I’ve flown to Norway several times and been in the Oslo airport just as many times, and it’s not the worst place to end up. Everythings clean and cozy, for the most part πŸ™‚ Good luck!

  94. wayawayaan
    September 7, 2010

    ah. love it. simply amazing.

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  96. mdoagad
    September 12, 2010

    Hah, I believe that comic just about made my day, I always somehow happen to get stuck in line behind that one disgruntled lady who doesn’t want to give up her expensive shampoo for anything in the world.

  97. oghex
    September 13, 2010

    Great post..thx

  98. messydani
    September 25, 2010

    I never tough traveling by a plain will be such a killer thing. I agree wit you about the 2 emotions in plane. Now that i remember that newt week i will have to fly im really sick of it! -.-

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This entry was posted on September 3, 2010 by in Europe, Frivolities & Miscellaeny, Travel and tagged , , , , .
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