March 21, 2014

Recently I made a quick 48-hour business trip via United and I left my cell phone at home by accident. After my initial total panic (I thought I had lost it), I discovered that flying without being connected is now a surreal experience. It is kind of like traveling in the 80s, but minus public phones.

First, how many phone numbers do you remember without the help of speed dial? Well, for me, not many. So, calling someone, even if I could find a phone, was a challenge. In a world of free wi-fi, finding any public phone at an airport is a Sherlock Homes moment.

But there were some benefits flying without a smartphone, once I reluctantly accepted it. Remember when you used to ask people where they were going?  I actually started to look around and enjoyed the old-fashioned social aspects of connecting with fellow travelers. I struck up a great conversation with Margaret, a flight attendant flying on a pass, who because of airline bankruptcies is still flying after 45 years. If you think business bankruptcies with cancelled pensions don’t have a human side, just visit with Margaret for two hours waiting for an airline mechanical issue to be resolved. Sharing a common airline background, we both reflected on how silly it was that our fellow passengers thought that rudeness and hostility would make the plane safer or depart sooner.

I also observed a family of four that never talked to each other because they were all glued to their cell phones texting away. So much for the idea that travel will bring a family closer together. One of the more charming moments was when an eight year old asked me why I didn’t have a phone, and then offered to loan me his phone so I could call my mom and tell her I was OK.

No real marketing lesson here, except sometimes it is just good to get out of your comfort zone, relax, and smell the roses (or in my case, the jet fuel). It is a great way to be thankful for what you have and appreciate the diversity of a world.


  1. Having just finished a 2 week cruise not only without phone but also sans internet, radio, TV (we chose not to turn it on) and news – it was heaven. Just don’t ask how many messages were awaiting at the end of the trip

  2. I love the little boy! That’s so sweet!

    Sent from my iPhone
    Please excuse shorthand or typos


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