He looks out the window in awe, even before take off, fascinated by the loading of baggage onto the plane. He turns to his mother with a beaming smile. In flight, he keeps his eyes glued on that window, occasionally pointing out cars he sees, landscapes he wonders about. When it is all over, the pilot thanks the passengers for flying with the airline today. The 6-year-old shouts, just loud enough for a few rows back to hear, “You’re welcome. It was fun!”. A few travelers quietly laugh as he thanks his dad profusely for taking him on his first flight.
It is another routine flight for me, one I have made countless times. I wake early to pack my bags and be on my way. I arrive ridiculously early to the airport for I hate to be late for flights. Wishing it was all over, I go through an anti-climactic security process with a drone of other flyers. I wait in the waiting area, crowded and loud, as I count the minutes until boarding. The typical scene of gate hovering takes place, as the pushy block anyone’s path to the gate. I walk on to the plane and find my seat, much to the enjoyment of my seatmate who thanked me for not being obese. The plane pulls out and I fall asleep, ready to get this show on the road and be at my destination.
We all count the seconds until landing on flights. We have to push and shove to get our carry-on in the overhead bids. There is usually a screaming or ill behaved child, perhaps even a few ill behaved adults on every flight. The gates of connecting flights are announced even before landing, proof we are just moving from one place to another as efficiently as possible.
Actually flying has since transitioned into a chore for me. My heart skips a beat at a security for fear I will be singled out for some sort of intensive pat down. Once it is all over, I just can’t wait to get there. Flying has become a means of passing time, not an aspect to travel I enjoy. I get annoyed with moving walkway blockers at airports. The hoverers in the gate never cease to make my blood boil. Rude passengers, dirty seat pockets in front of you and countless hours of just waiting and sitting have lost their wonder until this flight today.
The little boy in front of me is not some ill behaved child. These kids are never mentioned in travel articles. It is always the screaming baby we moan about, never the child with unending wisdom and perspective. I witnessed a powerful moment, perhaps life changing for this young man, his first airplane ride. Not once did I hear him complain. Not once did I see him take his eyes off of the window. When it was all said and done, his attitude was still chipper as the thank-yous poured out to his parents, and even the pilot.
Over a time, I lost this wonder for flying. I used to always demand a window seat while traveling to look out the window. Now I seem to just select it to have more room and something to lean on when I fall asleep. I remember my first big flight to Europe at a young age, beginning at 8 years old. I loved the whole process. The lighting of the cabin even seemed to hold magic. Gazing out the window for the first time to a world below is indescribable. Little packets of pretzels and a backpack filled with games in travel size exuded a certain travel wonder.
As I watch this little boy appreciate every aspect to flying, I realize travelers and jaded tend to fall in the same sentence after countless flights, pushy passengers and delays filled with annoyance. Everything becomes a routine, one we hope goes by quickly, not one we grasp in flight. However, after seeing a first timer on my flight today, I am reborn in terms of flying. I am making a promise to myself to look out the window more, ignore the annoyances of travel and soak up every minute for travel should be just as that little boy concluded, fun.
Have you ever felt like flying lost its wonder for you?