What We’re Watching: In Flight

pick something you would never watch normally, because in-flight entertainment is an experience of its own.

By The film team


I have three distinct memories of watching things while on flights. The first is The Intern (2015), the Anne Hathaway/Robert De Niro buddy comedy we never knew we needed and, actually, didn’t! Second is The Hills, which I had never seen, but of which I watched at least one full season while on a plane when I was maybe twelve. Last is this exact episode of Criminal Minds, which I watched with no audio over someone’s shoulder because I was too scared to actually watch it myself.

I think the lesson we learn from all of these experiences is that being in flight, strapped down, and forced to stare straight ahead for hours will make you watch, and even be genuinely entertained by, things that would never get your attention if you were safely on land. It’s always nice to leave a flight questioning who you are and why you’ve spent your time pondering why Nancy Meyers named Anne Hathaway’s fictional fashion startup “About The Fit.”


In normal life, there are better things to do than spend upwards of two hours watching some overblown spy movie that somehow killed it in the box office or a self-indulgent drama “loosely” based on a director’s own experiences that was nominated for 12 Oscars. But sitting in a floating metal tube is the perfect excuse to see for yourself what all the commotion was about and maybe actually be able to contribute to the conversation the next time, for better or for worse. The first one that comes to mind for me is Titanic. The next is literally any James Bond movie or biopic about a famous musician. Honorable mention as well to Marriage Story, Catch Me If You Can, Don’t Look Up, Spider Man movies (only the Tom Holland ones), Tik Tik Boom, and Mank. Actually, I take that back. Don’t ever watch Mank.


Movies that I was too scared to see in theaters call out to me whenever I fly. Maybe it's the overwhelming brightness from the open windows or the fact that the screen is only a little bigger than my phone that I feel I can finally stomach the thriller and horror genres. Or maybe it's because the concept of flying in an airplane is far scarier to me than anything in the film. Old (2021) and The Dead Don't Die (2019) were 10/10 plane movies (a.k.a. just frightening enough to keep me awake until they passed out free snacks). I caution against watching any thriller astronaut films, though. I learned the hard way by watching Gravity (2013)—the concept of being lost in space is simply something one doesn't need to think about while being so far from the ground. All in all, I recommend picking something you would never watch normally because in-flight entertainment is an experience of its own.