Should You Watch That Movie On A Plane?
Forget to download your Netflix movies to your tablet before your flight? Then you might find yourself held hostage by the limited options your airline makes available to you… and even less time to make that choice.
That choice is complicated by the fact that there are so many factors that go into a good movie-watching experience… that are simply unpleasant on an airplane, especially if you’re a diehard fan of movies.
Here are just three that’ll likely affect your next in-flight film:
Sound quality - Did you bring our noise-canceling headphones… or are you using the little giveaway set the flight attendant tossed in your general direction?
Comfort - Settling into a reclining chair for an intense three-hour drama lets you hang onto every word… When you’re kept upright with someone kicking your chair for three hours, that drama loses some of its allure.
Epicness - Imagine watching a made-for-IMAX movie… on the headrest in front of you. You might still feel some of the grandeur, but it’s a little hard when Everest is the same size as your warmed-up food tray.
Now, these aren’t new problems to anyone who’s traveled on a plane before. Yet they’re still problems we face, so our goal today is to help you make the best possible movie choice given the less-than-ideal flying environment.
It may sound a little “lowest common denominator”, but it may actually help your flight pass faster - and isn’t that what this is all about?
One other disclaimer: the list of movies available on different airlines is always changing, so instead of a list of “movies you absolutely must watch” we’ve created an easy-to-follow list of eight questions that will help you filter out the options you have in front of you.
Are You Starting Off A Vacation?
Lean into the vacation vibes with a travel-themed movie (like Forgetting Sarah Marshall) or one with tropical vibes (like Jurassic Park). You’ve packed your bags and you’re setting off for a place that’s not your home, so embrace the escapism with a movie that’s not like your real life (in less you also happen to splice genes and bring dinosaurs to life).
Are You Expecting Turbulence?
Turbulence isn’t fun. Yet some movie theaters offer a 4D experience with rumbling seats (and charge more!), so this is about embracing the storms as a value add. Here the goal is to go for the big action movies (is there a Godzilla in the title?) that will have plenty of destruction without too much dialogue.
Are You On A Two-Hour Flight?
In theory, a two-hour flight should be the perfect amount of time to catch a two-hour movie. And yet, you know in your weary, frequent-flier-ravaged bones that it’s not the case. There are pilot interruptions, safety demonstrations, and more.
Plus, most flight times are gate-to-gate, so you’ll be better off paying attention to what the captain announces as the flight time… then taking away another 10 minutes. Even better? Aim for 90-minute movies, or you might find yourself watching those climactic final scenes at 2x speed.
Are You Hoping To Fall Asleep?
While I mentioned that sound quality was a problem on airplanes, it’s only actually a problem if you’re trying to follow the movie. If you’re trying to lull yourself to sleep, pick a classic movie that’s dialogue-heavy. While this isn’t a selection that’ll get you points with your movie-watching friends back home, it’ll make your flight more comfortable.
Are You Stressed About Flying?
If flying stresses you out, the jolting, big-budget action movies that keep you on the edge of your seat may not be much help. Instead, you need to get lost in the movie. Give into your romantic sensibilities and go for a romantic comedy (like Notting Hill) and enjoy as the twinkling eyes of movie stars distract you from being in a metal tube miles above the earth.
Are You Tired Of Thinking?
Though a million productivity gurus will have you believing on-plane WiFi is a great time to get things done, that’s not for everyone. If you’re finishing a day at work - or just tired of thinking - give yourself permission to go low-brow. Binge on broad comedies like Bridesmaid or Anchorman.
Are You Into Sports?
There’s something special about watching sports movies on a plane. Maybe it’s getting drawn into impossible athletic achievements while we’re strapped firmly into place. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the story (ball goes into net). Whatever it is, if you’re a sports fan, the airplane is a great place for movies like Hoop Dreams or Remember the Titans.
Are You A Completist?
Feel like you’re seeing more and more movie sequels? You’re not alone - the percentage of original movies to non-original movies (reboots, sequels, etc.) produced is shrinking. That’s not necessarily a bad thing… unless you’re the kind of person who feels like they have to see the bitter end of every movie franchise. Not only is that an exhaustive pursuit, it could also be an expensive one. So if you’re scrolling through the available movies, and Air Bud 16 pops up, put it on.
Let us know your own airplane movie-watching strategies below!