Don’t Mention The Long-Haul Flights

The Happiest RefugeeLong-haul flights aren’t fun. Particularly if you’re hopping on the next one before you’ve had time to forget the pain of the previous one. In the last two months, work commitments have seen me head from Australia to Germany to Australia to Paris to Shanghai and then to Jinan, a city roughly halfway between Shanghai and Beijing. I don’t wish to talk right now about the flights I’ll take in just over a week’s time that will take me back to Brisbane via Jinan and Sydney.

What I will say, though, is that in-flight entertainment is a godsend. Most of those flights have been with reputable airlines that provide buckets of channels—and even games—to wile away the hours of dead-would-bring-relief boredom.

I’ve watched more movies in the last months than I have in the last few years, and they’ve been fantastic, if slightly foreign to me—I’m someone who will choose a book over a film in almost every instance so watching a movie, much less back-to-back movies, is something of a novelty to me.

Had I known before I headed off that some of these aeroplanes come equipped with USB slots, I’d have brought myself some on-board reading too. Yes, an e-reader is a viable, practical option too. I’m just waiting for the format war to be done and dusted and for an e-reader to be released that both does exactly what I want and looks good.

I know, I know, I sound completely superficial in saying that, but as a Mac user who has discovered the joy of good industrial design—read: that functionality and beauty are not mutually exclusive things—I refuse to use clunkers, irrespective of how good their content might be once you get past the ugly cover.

Moreover, had I known that some flights on budget airlines come without any kind of in-flight entertainment (and barely any food, and even less that’s edible; but that’s another blog for another forum), I would have stocked up on some serious reading material.

As someone who will forego underpants for books, I of course turned up relatively armed for the flight. I had Anh Do’s award-winning book The Happiest Refugee (there will be a blog about this brilliant book very, very soon) and a stack of magazines.

I rarely buy magazines because they to me feel both a guilty pleasure and someone looked down upon in the reading world. But say what you will about magazines—they saved my life on those interminable, turbulence-filled, food-deprived flights.

The issue is that though I eked those out over the flights here, books and magazines are heavy and there are only so many you can jam in before the:

a)      airhostess notices and busts you for exceeding weight

b)     overhead locker buckles

c)     seat pocket bends out so far you can’t get the tray down to eat your meal.

Subsequently, they’re now well and truly finished. I don’t have a plan for passing the time back to Australia. Air-freighted care packages of books will be accepted.

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Fiona Crawford

Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She regularly appears as a book reviewer in Australian BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER magazine. Fiona is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.