I am writing this postcard on the plane to Vienna. I have gotten used to travelling on my own, making my way from airport to airport and having found routines for long-distance flights. But one thing I am never able to plan in advance is if I will start a discussion with strangers on the plane. Is it weird to dive into heated debates with strangers next to you and then part ways as soon as the flight cabin opens again?
I have met really exciting people during my travels. From businesspeople, to students, artists, pilots, to engineers. The most intriguing part is that you can fall into heated discussions about politics, the best holiday advice for your destination, the fastest route to transfer at a certain airport or travel habits. As soon as the plane door opens at your destination, you part ways. Very often, I do not even know the names of my counterparts, let alone exchanging business cards.
Call me a weirdo, but I enjoy these discussions with strangers. I got the best restaurant recommendations, career advice and tips about how to observe the cabin crew to get through turbulence.
I once had a really heated discussion about sports and work life balance which kept me awake on my night flight from New York Newark to Munich. However, a lot of passengers around us did not really appreciate our discussion. And during the phase when I thought about quitting my job and starting a new business, I got some really good advice. I think maybe because these people did not know me at all and, hence, were unbiased.
But sometimes, I am just not in the mood. When I go home to Austria after some time and I have some South-East Asia travelers sitting next to me, for example. Most of the time, they are really keen on hearing what living is like in this beautiful tourist destination. However, it is usually a very one-sided discussion. I usually avoid those conversations as I do not want to be the sole entertainer. I want to learn something new.
And sometimes, I just want to work, sleep or watch a movie without being interrupted. The good thing about a long-distance flight is that we are disconnected – no phones, no emails, no social media. And very often, I do not feel the urge to talk. Yes, you will all smile: there is actually a time when I really keep my mouth shut. 🙂 I try to use plane time as me time – I read a book, listen to podcast or just want to think about nothing.
What about you? Do you start conversations with strangers on the plane? Or is it too weird for you?