Review: Living In The Age Of Airplanes

Filed Under: Misc.

Posts from me are going to be a bit lighter over the next week as I travel to the Maldives. As you may (or may not) know, I also have a points consulting service, whereby we help people redeem their airline miles. I have several colleagues working with me, and they’re some of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know in this hobby. During my dad’s round the world surprise birthday trip they offered to step in and help with some guest posts. Thanks to the positive feedback, they’re back with more. This post is from my friend Tiffany, whom you’ve heard from before.

Monday morning I awoke, as I often do, at an airport hotel with a view of the runway.

Los Angeles LAX Airport

After a very typical morning, I was joined by Alex, and we headed to the airport for a very atypical event.

Emirates Premier of Living in the Age of Airplanes

Thus far this is the best thing about Ben’s trip to the Maldives (sorry Ben!), and as someone who grew up on airplanes, possibly one of the best things I’ve ever done.


After arriving at the airport we headed to the Emirates check-in desk, which was specifically staffed for the event. We were given boarding passes, and then made our way through security and to the new Emirates lounge.


We had Champagne (Veuve Clicquot Brut), and canapés while the production crew filmed some short snippets and interviews.


Then we gathered around to hear thoughts on the film from the various people involved in the production, along with Patrick Brannelly, Emirates’ Divisional Vice President of Customer Experience, who spoke to Emirates’ sponsorship of the event (and the film distribution), and how the themes of the movie aligned with their corporate vision.


The pilot, Captain Saeed Al Maktoum, who along with the remainder of the Cabin Crew had been shuttled in just for this event, then took some time to “introduce” everyone present to the A380. His pride in his job was pretty adorable, and though the majority of the people in attendance were not aviation geeks (or really even frequent travelers), the crowd seemed very impressed.

The Cabin Crew, of course, looked fabulous, because: Emirates.


And then we watched a movie about airplanes on an airplane!

No complaints about this movie theater, even if does ruin my perfect Emirates-shower record!

Custom messaging for the #airplanesmovie screening

Our flight path from (and to) Los Angeles

It was every bit as fantastic as it sounds.

The Movie

The film, directed by Brian J. Terwilliger, is beyond gorgeous.

The crew spent over a hundred days filming on location, and it shows in the finished product. Incredible shots of widebody aircraft soaring through the sky are juxtaposed against natural landscapes worthy of David Attenborough, and James Horner’s inspired score is perfectly punctuated with narration by Harrison Ford.

And it’s all just really fantastic.

Beyond the cinematography, the messaging of the film is beautiful, and though-provoking.

If we couldn’t fly, we wouldn’t go.

And if we didn’t go, how different our lives would be.

Given the collective experiences of the people reading One Mile at a Time, there are probably few audiences for whom this line will resonate more profoundly.

Our lives are amazing! The world is amazing!

I had the best Thai curry of my life in Prague. The mere fact those words can be combined to form a sentence is, truly, amazing. Few people (if any) would have said that a hundred years ago (or fifty years ago, and as a young female from a lower middle class family even 25 years is probably a stretch).

Yet we have conversations like this all the time, with people from all walks of life across myriad continents. Granted, we are an incredibly privileged group, but I loved that the film pushed past the idea of air travel as a luxury commodity to airplanes being the connective tissue for our increasingly global society.

You just have to see it for yourself.

And starting Friday April 10th, you can!

Living In The Age Of Airplanes is distributed by National Geographic, and is intended for museum theaters. This is fantastic in that theaters will have the reels and show the movie for months, but the downside is the initial release is rather limited.

As of the time of writing, the film will be showing in the following theaters:


If you don’t see a theater near you (seriously, California? Very poor effort, all things considered), you can reach out to your local museum, or directly to National Geographic via the film’s website.

Bottom line

This was an incredibly fun way to launch a movie, and while I don’t know that it will inspire a trend for future premieres (I just don’t see shark movies ending well with this model, for example), this was very clever.

Emirates did a wonderful job hosting the event, and the invitation list was well thought out. Rather than just having aviation geeks or frequent travelers, the attendees were a mix of writers from all different publications, museum staff, etc. I’m pretty sure Alex and I were the only guests who had flown an A380 (although Derek from Cranky Concierge was there, so I’m not positive on that), much less on Emirates, much less in a premium cabin.

So everyone in attendance was visibly blown away by the aircraft, the amenities, and the crew. At one point in time the woman across the aisle from me leaned over to say “Noise canceling headphones! Can you believe it?!” Seeing that kind of excitement just made my day, and added a very sweet tone to the entire event.

In speaking with the production crew, director and producer Brian Terwilliger mentioned he wanted this film to inspire others to love airplanes and aviation as much as he does. With this screening, at least, that wish was met and exceeded.

Has anyone else seen Living in the Age of Airplanes? What did you think?

  1. Pretty disappointing the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia isn’t screening it. I’ll be in NY next week, but not sure it’s worth schlepping out to Queens. Probaby will end up waiting until it’s on NatGeo on cable or streaming.

  2. The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum actually had a special complimentary, invite-only screening this morning in their IMAX theatre in DC as well.

  3. @ Lisa — From my conversations with National Geographic there will be more theaters showing the film in the coming months, they just can’t be announced yet. I’d recommend ringing the Franklin Institute and asking if they have it on their future schedule.

  4. I think, for most of us here, the only disappointing aspect of the movie will be the short run time: 47 minutes.

  5. @ Kurt — Hah! To further add to the irony, it was at the Mandarin Oriental, at a restaurant which was originally intended to feature a more sophisticated interpretation of Czech cuisine. Somewhere along the way they hired a Sri Lankan Chef, who morphed the menu into this weird Asian-Czech blend that somehow still works.

    Prices were outrageous for Prague (and for Thai food in general), but far less than we’d pay at a similar venue in California. Everything was delicious.

  6. @ Todd — Word. Personally I could watch planes on approach at SXM all day, but if you’re not making a film specifically for AVGeeks, it probably makes sense to limit the time somewhat.

  7. It’s coming to my teensy, tiny town of Hutch! Yay!! I’m so excited! I just now called them and they said it will probably play for a month. I’ll be in CX F on May 1, but I’ll get home on May 5th and can watch it. Can’t wait! Thanks so much for the heads-up!

  8. I’ll be in DC on April 10th and just saw it’s playing at the National Air & Space museum! So excited! Thanks for the heads up Tiffany!!! 🙂

  9. Kinda cool, but at the same time seems incredibly wasteful. I often cringe at the “amenity kits” filled with products people will never use, and endless pairs of pajamas that people brag about from first class flights, but this just seems like a massive amount of jet fuel wasted for no reason

  10. Last time I checked, it was scheduled for Seattle yet, now I see that it is!! This makes me happy. 🙂

  11. A shame it isn’t showing in the UK anytime soon. Initially it said it would be released worldwide but no sign of it yet… 🙁

  12. @ chris — Well, granted, I have no idea what a film studio generally spends on a premiere of a documentary, but I don’t know this is any more expensive. Emirates and the film are getting a ton of additional press from the outside the box approach, and I’m sure someone crunched the numbers and decided it was a good investment.

  13. @ Robert D — We actually talked with a representative from the Pacific Science Center at the event. They were a later addition, but seem really excited about hosting the film!

  14. @ takke — The intention is definitely to have a worldwide release eventually, let me see if I can get a guesstimated date for the UK.

  15. Ah, pearls before swine. You guys completely miss the point. You seem to think that airplanes are all about THE DESTINATION (or what kind of champagne you’re served on the way, even what kind of bowl the nuts come in, for cryin’ out loud). How very, very sad for you!

    Sure, being able to comfortably and quickly get yourself to the other side of the world is great – a miracle, even – and it changes you. Being immersed in another culture (something that doesn’t happen at 5-star resorts, you know…). All good – I like that stuff, too.

    But the true beauty of flight, the miracle that can touch you, is not something you experience by taking a frikking SHOWER at 30,000 feet (sheesh, what a sad, misguided, waste of a life). The miracle of flight – the joy, the real experience worth living – is being at the controls, being one with the plane and the sky and the air and the whole world around you to infinity – going where you want to go, seeing what you want to see, what you can only see, when you take yourself there, up in the sky. It’s utterly beautiful, it’s amazing, and it’s wonderful, in ways I can’t begin to describe.

    For a hint at what I’m talking about, you should check out the other films by this same film-maker. “One Six Right” is a good start.

    Damn, I REALLY need to go flying this weekend!!

    (…and Harrison, hope you’re feeling better and back in the air soon – you’re a good man!!!)

  16. Even though you’re a troll for saying it that way and I think being in comfort while flying compounds the magic, watching that clip along with the positive portion of your comments has me convinced. I think I’ll become a pilot. Thanks!

  17. @ Justin — That’s a beautiful description, though I never said I think airplanes are all about the destination. If that were the case we might never have evolved beyond steam trains and ocean liners.

    Having an appreciation for the tremendous impact aviation has on our society doesn’t make me less impressed by flight itself! While I’m not a pilot, I grew up behind the right-hand yoke. We live in an incredible time, and regardless of how we’re able to experience them as individuals, airplanes make our lives pretty spectacular, I think.

  18. I saw it today in Washington. Very well done. Very pretty iMax film version of “you’re in a chair in the sky”- please don’t take it for granted!

  19. They did gloss over sea freight and container ships. But it was an aviation movie so they had to.

  20. Here ‘s hoping for some more release dates outside NA sometime soon, or even better an online option!

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