Dos And Don'ts For Working on the Plane

11 August 2017
Read Time: 3.4 mins

Are you one of those lucky business travellers who can knock out a solid amount of work during a flight? Or do you end up making a half-hearted stab at a report before submitting to the distraction of meals, exhaustion and a lack of WiFi?

Some people have a gift for blocking out the world and powering through work, even if they happen to be at 40,000 feet. For the rest of us, there are ways to maximise in-flight time and encourage a higher work output for those times when you need it.

Working on the plane

DO: Plan realistically and set goals

Just like planning out a regular day in the office, gauge how much you can achieve in the projected flight time and set goals. Be realistic and be precise - allow for take-off, landing and meal times, and account for sleep on long haul flights.

DO: Download reference materials

It’s on the not-too-distant horizon, but reliable plane WiFi is still hit and miss, depending on the carrier and your destination. Plan ahead; download all relevant materials from the web or shared drives so you don’t have to depend on spotty plane or airport WiFi, or even worse, use it as an excuse to re-watch six episodes of Seinfeld. 

DO: Charge your laptop and bring a universal adapter

Most plane seats offer a power point, but they are often slow to charge and may require a different plug. Juice up before boarding, and bring a universal adapter in case you’re faced with a foreign outlet.

Working on plane

DO: Start as soon as possible

As soon as the seatbelt sign blinks off, whip out your laptop and get started. The sooner you get yourself into work mode, the higher the chance of reaching your goals. Even though meals are served soon after take-off, don’t wait until after eating to get started.

Domestic flights offer the perfect pocket of time to get a solid amount of work done. There’s no must-see in-flight entertainment and rarely a full meal service, so if you commence work as soon as possible you will be completely uninterrupted for a quantifiable period.

DO: Give yourself time to wind down

If you are on a long haul flight and have allocated time for sleep, then give yourself time to wind down. Install a blue light filter on your laptop and prepare a book or TV show episode to help you relax, just as you would after a day in the office. Perhaps it’s time for a cheeky nightcap?

Drink service on plane

DON’T: Have a drink before getting started

Having a sneaky wine is another way to launch yourself into chill mode, which is great at times when you don’t have a pressing amount of work to be done. If you’re trying to work and sip simultaneously, you may also have the bother of trying to fit your wine glass and laptop on the miniature tray of your seat. Save the vino for afterwards, or have it with your meal. 

DON’T: Start watching a movie

It’s so tempting to flick on a blockbuster when you’re waiting for the seatbelt sign to flick off, but nothing will get you out of work mode and into chill mood like a movie. Save that flick you’ve been eager to see for after you’ve reached your goals. It will be that much sweeter to watch once all your work is complete.

Getting work done on the plane

DON’T: Get changed into your trakkies

If you want to be productive rather than dozy, don’t change into your comfy clothes until you are ready to wind down. It’s hard to take work seriously when you’re wearing trakkies and fluffy socks, so save the PJs for sleep time.

DON’T: Linger over your meal

Meal times can provide a welcome break - after all, you can’t comfortably fit both food and your laptop on the tray. When choosing your dining entertainment, opt for a TV show rather than a movie, and say no to a second beer after dinner. Once the tray has been cleared, you want to be ready to jump back into it.

Emma Lee

Emma is a travel writer and blogger living in Brisbane, Australia. She followed the snow around the world for many years, and still considers Lake Louise Ski Resort her happy place. Emma's other passion is food; a love that has led her down many sketchy looking alleys in Asia, South America and Europe.