My wife and I most often fly Southwest Airlines domestically, that is, within the borders of the United States.  This is the interior of a Boeing 737 like Southwest uses exclusively in their fleet.  (The photo is from Bing Images.)

If I am trying to read, I do not like splotches of sunlight and shadow coming through the cabin windows onto my book.  If we are flying from east to west, I like to plan to sit on the north side of the airplane while it is in flight.  That would be the right side in the photo.  Since Southwest has open seating rather than assigned seats, this is very much possible. 

Step 1: Are We There Yet?

Most of my flights are only an hour or two in duration.  But, we recently had a four hour flight from Nashville, Tennessee to Las Vegas, Nevada.  Some pilots give the passengers frequent updates on where the plane is at the moment.  Most do not.  After a while, adults can be as curious as children to know where they are.  Southwest Airlines gives small napkins with the snacks and beverages.  The back of these napkins includes a nice map of the continental United States with cities served by Southwest neatly marked.  Passengers can turn these into progress maps.  
And &quot;they&quot;'re planning a <em>l o n g </em>-haul trip to Mars...<br> <br> <br> L<br>
That would be a tough trip. Perhaps you heard the US space program once allegedly included space for 120 pounds of recreational equipment in one of the capsules. The two astronauts asked if that recreational equipment might be a woman.
Heh! Bet that went down like a ton of bricks! Here in 2013* it probably wouldn't :]<br> <br> *Wow! this is seriously like time-travel!!
I think those astronauts were back in the 1960s. Political correctness probably would not allow it.
I had not heard that one(!)<br> <br> L<br>
I just got back from a work-related trip the other day. It was on an old RJ with super worn out seats, it felt like I was sitting on plywood with carpet padding on it. aside from getting a pillow from the stewardess (which i don't like to do because they aren't always the cleanest), the only thing i could do was switch positions about every 10 minute. it makes for a very long hour flight. someday soon i will make an inflatable butt pillow to accompany the inflatable neck supports...
Even a foam cushion would not be too bulky to carry and would help quite a lot until you could find or make an inflatable cushion. I sympathize with you. I hope your flight was not too long.
Good work, Phil.<br><br>Regarding step 12, I carry chewing gum and use it at take-of and landing. It is effective, unless you are nasal congested, in which case you can use a descongestant previously (I don't know if there in USA they can be buyed without medical prescription).<br><br>But thinking well, your earplugs are simpler! <br>
If only i'd seen this comment before i posted! but i guess great minds think alike<br>
Osvaldo,<br><br>Thank you for the comment. Chewing gum would work. I am not much of a gum chewer. I want to spit it out as soon as the flavor is gone! We can buy decongestants without prescription. Commonly we say &quot;over the counter&quot; when we want to say without doctor's a prescription. They are used mostly for headcolds when someone had difficulty breathing. I am often amazed in recent weeks how good your English is becoming.
Phil, many times I can write English without Google Translator help. But hearing it is still very difficult to understand for me. Spanish and English have grammar construction sometimes very different, that confuse me.
Osvaldo, <br><br>We were required to study German in school, but only enough for reading a little. There came a time when I wanted to understand spoken German and to speak a little. I began by listening to the world news in English at 7 AM and then in German at 8 AM by shortwave radio. It took a long time, but eventually I was able to understand quite a bit. German grammar is often quite different from English, too. I always told people studying a language that a lot of stupid little kids in those countries learned that language, and they (the students of a new language) probably can, too.
Sometimes I think I have a cognitive (computational) audition problem, because I hear clearly a phrase, but I need hear it twice in order to understand it. besides, my son and my daughter can understand perfectly English songs, but I am almost totally unable to do it.
I think songs in another language are difficult. The words often fade into one another with a clear distinction between them. And, the writer may choose a colloquialism that is almost slang not well known to non-native speakers because he needs to make it rhyme or fit the meter.
A trick I used to use while flying on MD-88's was chewing gum for takeoff and landing. The jaw motion continually equalizes the pressure. it doesn't always work great, but if you forget your plugs, its a good alternate<br>
Good instructable, only the plane does travel in a straigt line but use the earth to travel via a shorter route. It uses great circels around the earth to find the shortest route. So ever point in your example line will be a fraction (on the map) more to the north. This results that your center point of your example route about 1 state more the north lies. Sorry for my poor English, I'm from Holland. <br>You can do the same thing on a large ferry or cruise. They also use this natural advantage: shorter route means less use of the engine and less time so it saves energy and most importantly money!
My wife is making this exact same flight from Nashville, TN to Las Vegas, NV today. I am watching an Internet flight tracker and she has about one hour to go in the flight. I compared the progress map on the flight tracker with what I drew on the napkin in this Instructable. It is amazing how well both correspond with each other. The little cocktail napkin map is quite accurate.
Thank you for your comment. I am merely looking for a rough idea of what area is in view out the airplane's window, or about where we are in the case of cloud cover. It makes the trip more bearable if I have some idea of how far we have progressed. You make good points. Your English is good enough. We have driven from Leer, Germany to Amsterdam, Holland. We were always pleased with how many citizens of the Netherlands speak quite good English. We did stop at a MacDonald's on the way to eat and the people behind the counter had more difficulty with English than personnel at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. I guess that is to be expected. Your English is certainly better than my Dutch!
All I want to know is......ARE WE THERE YET?????? lol ;0)
Lyn,<br><br>Nice to hear from you. The interval markings on the little napkin map actually relieve some of my &quot;Are we there, yet?&quot; anxieties because I have a fair idea of where we are. But, that does seem to be everyone's eternal question. Merry Christmas to you.
<br>Very nice tips. I like your idea of approximating the location, I don't think commercial airliners fly in a straight line all the time, but at least your approximation can be used as a good reference
I think you are correct. On our recent trip the plane banked a couple of times to change direction slightly. That could involve avoiding military air space or a bunch of other things. Yet, I appreciate knowing with some certainty if I am looking down at Kansas or New Mexico or whatever. I should also say the inflight magazine mentioned GPS receivers are approved electronic devices for passengers while above 10,000 feet in altitude. Thank you for your comment.

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Bio: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying ... More »
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