Note to Flipside, 9/1/23

Things that happen on the plane, before your vacation.

Dave Balter
3 min readSep 2, 2023

Well, let’s start with the obvious. You prep for a 5 hour flight by stacking up the guts of your workload. A client presentation to finish here. A strategy doc to leadership there. Real meaty stuff. Plus two-fisted handfuls of emails and telegrams and a diaper-rash of items you’ve put off for weeks. Then, wham, Wifi craters. Refresh like a cocaine-addicted rat punching the pellet machine. Ding the airline attendant call button (“they just reset, it takes 10 minutes to come back up” is the white lie so often lobbed). Your output is generally collaborative, so you consider what can be done fully offline.

Best to start start with a written complaint to the airline.

Dear JetBlue,

I fly a lot. I’m Mosaic, and I mean that humbly, like I like you a lot, not like, “hey look at me, I’m top of the food chain or anything like that.” I like to sit in the window seat so no one bothers me so I can just work, work, work. If under 5 hours, I likely won’t even get up to pee. No need to disturb those sitting next to me, even if the guy in the middle seat just sits hypnotically staring at the back of the headrest. But, anyway, to work, I do need WiFi, and lately your new fancy-dancy Viasat system doesn’t hold up. This time, I watched the Hubspot Ad, but now the WiFi doesn’t work, so do I, like, get a rebate for the 30 seconds of my attention? And do you still have to pay Hubspot for my eyeballs?

So now I’m deciding if I should watch this 2023 Williem DeFoe movie you offer, Inside, where he’s a thief that gets trapped inside a house while stealing paintings. It’s kinda like a one man play, but there are some other actors eventually, so it’s not some sort of long Spaulding Gray monologue or anything. Our snaggle-toothed, crooked-nosed chap Williem does everything he can to get out — he’s very innovative mind you — but the house is locked up oh so tight. So he kinda goes a bit mad, as you’d imagine. Know what it feels like? Like one feels when they have so much work to do on a plane and the WiFi isn’t working.

Anyway, I’m digressing. I know you are supposed to fly planes not provide tech support, but could I ask that your WiFi has some Wi and more Fi more often? It would mean a lot.

Your disconnected flying friend,


Know what else happens on planes?

People walk babies up and down the aisles. You get used to turbulence. Someone paints their nails (for real) and your nostrils sting. Someone eats McDonalds and you are only moderately loving it. The person in front of you reclines so quickly it clasps your computer between the tray and the seatback and snaps your screen in half like a Samsung flip phone. You eat the unhealthy snacks you packed because there are no calories above 10,000 feet. You avoid the salty meal service at all costs. You don’t drink the coffee because they don’t clean the damn water canister so if you do, you’re probably drinking moldy ecoli. You watch your flight on flightaware so you feel special because you know more than anyone else about your flight path, altitude, speed and exactly when you’ll land. You are aware the plane will slow and start its decent exactly 30 minutes before landing. You know the person in the middle seat gets both arm rests, always. You don’t gather in the galley, and the flight attendants turn the food cart sideways to block you from attacking when the pilot comes out to use the loo. You wait your damn turn when deplaning.

Midjourney: a young stressed person sitting cramped on a small plane, the seat in front is very close to them, hamburgers floating all around, bottles of nail polish swirling in the air, babies crying all around — ar 16:9

Of course on the plane you likely get dehydrated and maybe contract Covid and apparently should stretch your legs so you don’t get thrombosis which would send a blood clot from your calf to your brain.

But mostly, when you’re on the plane, you just wonder when you’re going to do all the work you had planned to do.