#87 The Mile-high Movie Club
Submitted by Ashley
Expat Aid Workers long for the movie theater experience… the smell of fresh popcorn and a ridiculously-sized soft drink, a child-free zone (for R-rated movies at least), excess leg room and some faulty headphones for listening, not to mention viewing the movie without turbulence interruption. The most exciting part of the dreaded 20+ hour flight/multiple day journey from an Expat Aid Worker’s mission country to an R&R or home leave destination is catching up on all the worldwide film festival winners or losers of the year. True EAWs posted in legitimate “hazardous” duty stations will not have access to this pop-culture activity.
Field cred is essential, of course, but also sounding thrill-seeking on your leave is crucial for a true spirited EAW. You can tell an experienced EAW by the amount of movies seen on planes vs. in actual theaters. For example, an EAW might say while sitting around a bon-fire in Abyei, “It was great seeing ‘The Social Network’ on the plane while returning back to the mission area.” However, a veteran EAW will be sure to find a way to add more details like, “Qatar Airways screened ‘The Social Network’ in route from Khartoum to Borneo on my last sanity leave.” This particular EAW truly understands the importance of stating the details such as country of origin and destination when dropping the film title, as it makes them seem more exotic. Adding extra details like the above will also help to spark further conversation providing the EAW the opportunity to discuss their awesome vacation and make others feel jealous. EAWs will not measure the distance in terms of kilometers traveled; they clearly already have enough sky mile points for free worldwide travel, but by number of movies able to complete while in flight.
Choosing airlines based on in-flight entertainment will also be a top priority for veteran EAWs. They will know which airlines offer personal entertainment viewing monitors in each seat, verses those that only screen main cabin features limiting the amount and variety of movies one can watch. Expert EAWs will know which airlines offer the best amenities; top choices including Emirates, Thai and Qatar Airways when traveling to and from many Middle Eastern destinations (where hardcore EAWs are posted).
So next time you’re stuck in an airport, look for a fellow EAW. That’s right, they’ll have the out-doorsy carry-on backpack (usually that is all); most likely cargo pants for style and practical purposes like carrying several passports (diplomatic, civilian, and/or UN), multiple ID badges and at least two cellular devices. This would be a good opportunity to swap existing movies from your external hard-drives to view when you’re back in the field and are no longer a mile-high.