Now for the real “Up In The Air”

If you happened to be bored on a plane sometime in 2010, there’s a high likelihood you’ll have seen the film Up In The Air, and some of you may even relate to it. I remember that United Airlines even had the film doctored to remove much of the obvious product placement for competitor American Airlines from the film!

Air New Zealand 747-400, ZK-SUI by robertjamesstarling, on Flickr
Now, there's a nice plane. Still prefer it to the 777.

At the time, I was doing between 75k and 100k miles in flight each year, and while I wasn’t living the somewhat empty, itinerant existance of George Clooney’s character, I was almost certainly doing more travelling than most so-called “Traveller families” were travelling in the UK.

It meant that I could certainly relate to the film, the lead character’s pursuit of miles and elite status, and the benefits of choosing the correct airport security lane. I expect a lot of people reading this post (“Hi, Internet meeting circuit!”) can also relate to this.

I still never got down to living entirely out of a single roll-aboard case for more than a few days at a time though.

An independent film maker, Gabriel Leigh, has decided to make a feature-length documentary about the real frequent flyers, the people who really are “Up In The Air”, all the time, and often for no apparent reason. The film maker is appealing for backing on Kickstarter to raise the money to make the project.

Of course, the real irony would be if he can manage to fly to all the places he needs to when making the film using redeemed miles, rather than paying for a ticket!

Here’s a 20 minute taster of when he initially explored the phenomenon of the FlyerTalker and mileage runner.

One thing which really struck me about this short video was the chap in Tokyo, when he compared the airport to a city and a city to the airport. Everyone just going about their business, speaking their own language, doing their own stuff, in their own world, rarely interacting?

While it’s a true comparison for the mega-airports like Schiphol, DFW, Frankfurt and Heathrow, do we want our cities, our homes, our environments in which we live every day to become as impersonal as an airport? I don’t doubt for a moment that it is happening, but can’t help feeling I think that would be a sad state of affairs in the evolution of the city in the long term.