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Life after quarantine: 8 things about flying I'm most looking forward to

June 14, 2020
9 min read
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I've loved flying for as long as I can remember. Thanks to plane-watching trips to Newcastle Airport with my dad when I was young followed by my mum dropping me off there a few years later for my first-ever solo flight to visit family in Spain, I've been hooked. Like most TPG staffers, flying is one of the most important parts of my job, and one of the things I love to do the most, even when I'm not working.

Since I started social distancing and with restrictions on travel tight, I've realized more than ever how much aviation and flying really means to me and it's something that I miss more than I thought I would.

By the time this is all over, who knows what the aviation industry will look like. But hopefully, most of the things that I miss the most will still be possible to experience again.

(Photo by Dan Ross/The Points Guy)

1. Being inspired

Without sounding too cliché, it's often when I'm in an airport or on a plane that I get inspiration for my next story. And it's only while traveling that I get the chance to take those all-important AvGeek photos and videos. Traveling through an airport and being on a plane is when my senses are on highest alert: listening out for last call announcements to destinations I've never heard of, spotting a livery that I've never seen before (and sending it to the team to see if they can guess it) and eating and drinking the best, as well as the worst, that the industry has to offer.

I miss the constant exposure to all of those things and I can't wait to feel inspired by the exciting world of aviation once again.

2. When the thrust kicks in

There's no feeling quite like when you know your aircraft has just made its final turn of the taxi to the runway. You're next in line for takeoff. Depending on air traffic control, there can be anything from a few seconds to a couple of minutes of waiting before the flight crew get the all-clear for takeoff. The suspense builds, the engines kick in -- quietly at first, then a second or two later they're set to full power. The plane jolts forward, you're thrown back in your seat and the roaring engines can be heard over your favorite takeoff song playing through your headphones.

You're on your way!

Arriving at the end of the runway at São Paulo (CGH) airport (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)
Arriving at the end of the runway at São Paulo (CGH) airport. (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

3. Plane food (and drinks)

I love food. And as someone who likes food, you might be surprised to hear that I love eating in airports and on planes. I'm not just talking about the fine dining I get to experience at the front of planes, either. Believe it or not, my love of plane food started as long ago as flying on Britannia and Monarch on family vacations when I was a kid, and I still love it now, even after sampling some of the best.

Here is one of my favorite meals that I've eaten in the last year:

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As a Northern lad, I was so excited to see pie, mash and gravy on the menu on my first-ever flight with Virgin Atlantic from Manchester to Atlanta.

Related reading: British Airways suspending buy on board menu for short-haul flights

Pie in the sky in Upper Class onboard Virgin Atlantic's 747 from Manchester to Atlanta. (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

One of the ways I'm trying to offset my carbon footprint from traveling so much is by reducing my meat intake quite substantially. I rarely eat red meat anyway, but now, when there's an option, I'll choose the vegetarian or vegan choice when I'm flying or eating out.

(Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)
An evening meal of polenta onboard Delta's 767 from LAX to JFK. (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

There's also something about a gin and tonic in the sky that tastes so much better than on the ground, no?

4. Meeting new people

I'm not embarrassed to say it, I'm one of those people who gets chatty on a plane. If you're lucky or unlucky enough (depending on how you see it) to sit next to me on a flight, the chances are I'll find some way of striking up a conversation with you. One of the things that fascinates me the most about air travel is that a plane is filled with a finite number of people who are brought together for a finite amount of time during their individual journeys from A to B and will probably never be in the same place again ever, let alone sat next to each other on a plane.

Related reading: Pass the tissues: I'm a plane crier, and I'm proud of it

I'm actually still in touch with several of my "plane friends", including one lovely Danish lady who I met on a flight from Amsterdam (AMS) to Minneapolis (MSP) on my journey from Newcastle (NCL) to Winnipeg (YWG) in Canada to see family. We synched our TV screens, ordered a gin and tonic and watched a film together, laughing and crying with each other as we journeyed across the Atlantic.

5. Exploring new places

Being on a plane to a country you've never been to before brings a different kind of excitement. I don't tend to do much research before I head to a new destination as I don't like to spoil it -- I like having no idea what to expect.

Last year I was lucky enough to tick a few countries off my list — Ghana, Malta and Oman were three of my favorites for sure.

Related reading: A review of Oman Air economy on the 787 Dreamliner from London Heathrow to Muscat

When 2020 gets back to as normal as can be, I will be using my points and miles to get to the far-flung destinations of South Africa and Australia for the first time as well as Podgorica in Montenegro -- a little bit closer to home.

Related reading: The 6 best ways to get to South Africa on points and miles

The dock at Port Douglas, Australia (Photo by John Crux Photography/Getty Images)
The dock at Port Douglas, Australia. (Photo by John Crux Photography/Getty Images)

6. Sunrise and sunset from the sky

Sunsets and sunrises are magical. I find them to be truly life-affirming and gives you a chance to pause and take stock of life and what's around.

I've even gone as far as specifically booking a flight from Rio to São Paulo with a scheduled departure time just before sunset with a chance that I would get to see a beautiful moment over my favorite city in the world.

This was my reward...

My favourite ever sunset from the wing was captured this year as I flew from Rio de Janeiro (SDU) to São Paulo (CGH) in Brazil (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)
My favourite ever sunset from the wing was captured this year as I flew from Rio de Janeiro (SDU) to São Paulo (CGH) in Brazil. (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

7. Truly disconnecting

Disconnecting is the last thing most of us feel like doing in a world that's currently practicing social distancing. But when pre-coronavirus life was at its busiest, I loved nothing more than completely disconnecting when taking personal flights. Even if the Wi-Fi was free, I would only use my phone to take pictures out the window.

It's important to disconnect and being a mile high in the sky is my favorite time to do it.

8. The 4 a.m. alarm

No, really. Getting up at daft o'clock in the morning to head to the airport has been one of my favorite things to do since I was a kid. The initial disbelief that it's already time to wake up is usually quickly replaced by the excitement about the day of travel that lies ahead.

It's probably safe to say that I'm likely to be one of a very small group of people who look forward to this, but I think most people would agree that waking up at 4 a.m to go to the airport is definitely better than to go to work?

Bottom line

With wanderlust levels for many of us sky high right now, it’s a great time to reflect on past adventures and plan for future ones. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we’re up in the air again soon and enjoying the magic of aviation and the adventure it brings.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023