The Theory of Flight

by Susan McKee

One advantage of travel writing is the opportunity to travel. Of course, that's one of the disadvantages as well. When you're traveling, you're not where you're going, and you've left where you've been. Transit time is a state of suspended animation.

Take getting to Malaysia, for example. It's on the other side of the earth from the American heartland. No matter whether you go east or west, it's still 23 hours of time in the air. I flew from Newark to Kuala Lumpur, so the plane stopped for refueling in Dubai.

An hour or so in that international airport terminal is just about enough time to ogle the jewelry and designer clothes for sale and send off a postcard. Then it's back on board, trying to endure the tedium – dropping off to sleep, waking and reading for a bit, then dozing off again.

Stuck in steerage, there's not much to do. Most long distance overseas flights these days have individual television screens – even in coach. But, the movie choices are inane, and how many times can you watch the same episodes of popular TV sitcoms? I find myself tuning into the map charting the plane's progress.

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