Circling the world on planes with the psychology of love

Skyfall, the hit James Bond movie, contains the most famous closing line in modern cinema: “I’m a man after your heart.” It’s a fitting conclusion to a movie that features relentless death and disintegration — but the brand of romanticism masked within that profound romanticism is no match for the real deal: the traveler.

Over 2 million people fly international every day; of those, 23 percent are traveling on business. And according to a survey by Amtrak, the lack of connectivity and disdain for corporate travel results in an approximate $18 billion shortfall in revenue for the airline industry each year.

But as the Internet has evolved, so has the telecommunications, entertainment and internet trends of travelers. The days of using the airplane lavatory as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot have ended. Smartphones can now (easily) handle the cumbersome mess of smartphone apps, pictures and rich media embedded in nearly every bit of premium passenger service.

At the same time, travel services are becoming a lot more practical. Smartphones that are easily charged are great for comfortable travel, but we’re also able to plan out our journey, re-route and manage our finances using more than a dozen smart phone apps. The air is becoming much more sensory; there’s a whole wave of Hollywood movies centered around air travel, ranging from Hotel Transylvania and Unaccompanied Minors to Fathers Day and All Is Lost.

While some people still view airplanes as the death of romance and architecture, their obsession has only grown since the love affair started. The rise of Internet services like the Rediff.com to make long distance travel more affordable. Skype, the telephone service (and movie) extension. Airlines like United, Southwest and JetBlue who have chosen to bypass their American counterparts’ Wi-Fi policies for their own systems, and TSA whose inability to manage the crowds who sit through airport security to load up their laptops has created as many problems for American as it has solved.

Simply put, the way we view airplanes has changed radically over the last decade.

Here’s the problem: Unless we are at sea, planes are built for speed. So as technological advances in speed and flight efficiency continues, flights travel and lose value to the human-eye perspective. What you see when you look at a plane is mostly what you’ll see when you land on one.

Now, we can watch things we like in our travels — we travel because of more interesting things we can see. Whether it’s the ruins of ancient civilizations, the things we haven’t seen (yet) or the stuff we’ve seen but want to see again, experiencing something new is what life is about. The romance of romance should work hand in hand with this fantasy: jet setting on an airplane is an opportunity to find the things you’ve heard about for so long and become emotionally invested in them; not so much because we want to travel, but because we want to travel with some of the most interesting things in the world.

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