Tim Foolery

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Staying Entertained Inflight

Flying is still exciting for me, but no matter how excited I am about being in the air, trying a new product or enjoying an old one, there comes a time in every flight that you need some proper entertainment.  I’ve got a trip coming up where I’m spending more than 43 hours of time in the air – not including layovers, or waiting to board or deplane.  That’s a lot of time and one can only drink champagne and eat interesting airline meals for so many hours without losing one’s mind!

In Flight Entertainment

In Flight Entertainment

So how do I ensure I don’t get cabin fever whilst in the air?  Simple.  I over prepare.  My rule for years has been to have at least 2.5 hours of entertainment for every one hour of scheduled flying time.  This means I’m loading up my phone, my tablet and my laptop with movies, TV shows and podcasts.  This usually works out well, as I’ll often watch the airline provided in-flight entertainment during meals, then switch over to my own later on.  Here’s what I’m bringing on my next trip:


I have a handful of movies that I’ve purchased over the years on my tablet at all times.  These are some of my favorite films, ones that I can put on, zone out, relax and if I happen to fall asleep part way through, I’m not missing anything.  Here’s what’s on my tablet, can you sense a theme?

  • Fight Club
  • Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Indochine
  • Dr. No / Casino Royale / Skyfall / Quantum of Solace
  • The Bourne Identity

TV Shows

Since you can usually catch reruns of the Big Bang Theory on any airline anywhere, I find myself watching that show (God, I don’t know why) for a bit on the plane.  It’s easy to sleep to, I guess.  I’ve also been re-watching some older shows too:

  • Hannibal
  • Alias
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (see below)
  • Some PBS Documentary like the Roosevelts, American Experience or the like
  • Some full seasons to binge like American Horror Story, X-Company or Modern Family
  • An Anthony Bourdain show about my immediate destination or a future one


Podcasts are tough for me on planes.  I find myself falling a sleep when I’m listening to a pod or an audio book, which is great, if I want to sleep, but not if I want to actually listen to the content.  Here’s my current pod queue:

  • Young House Love Has a Podcast (Great DIY podcast)
  • Happier (A guide to bringing my happiness to your life, with Gretchen Rubin)
  • The Greatest Generation (a Star Trek podcast, currently doing an episode by episode recap and review of DS9 – see above)
  • American History Tellers
  • This American Life
  • Up First (NPR News)
  • NPR Politics
  • News in Slow French (Always be practicing!)
  • Having a Friend for Dinner (A Hannibal podcast)

I often find that when I get back home, I’ve still got a ton of things that I didn’t get around to watching while on the trip.  That gives me a head start on my next excursion.  How do you ensure you are fully entertained on long trips?

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