Your Flying Workflows

It looks like quite a few of us will be getting on planes - some for MPU Live this coming weekend and even more for MacStock this summer! There’s probably even some of us who fly for things other than MPU live shows :scream:

As such, I was wondering what are your flight workflows? How do you make the experience as enjoyable as possible for yourself?

Flying is a mentally depleting experience - even though I love it.

So, for long trips I start with an app to try on my iPad Pro - such as Scriptable (most recently) - and try to gain experience.

Sometimes I have a smallish programming project in mind. Never on the Mac as I’m at the back of the bus and generally there isn’t enough room.

Then I have podcasts to catch up on. Usually BBC Radio 4 Comedy as that’s “light and fluffy”. :slight_smile:

Finally music.

I don’t actually set up workflows as such. I do keep a “Do Expenses” task in Omnifocus to try to keep up.

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I load up a pile of Podcasts, eBooks and Music on my iPad Pro. I use the inflight system for Movies and TV Shows.

Playing around with Workflow keeps me busy for awhile and if really bored I may get around to doing some culling, sorting and editing of the 30,000+ Images and Videos in the Photos app.

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On transcon and international flights, noise cancelling headsets are a must. My current pair is the Bose QC 35(II). My Kindle is always well-stocked, and I find reading an engrossing novel is the best way to pass the time. I don’t use a laptop onboard much – flying is a good excuse to put work aside for a while.

I carry gear in a Waterfield Air Porter with Air Caddy. The MacBook fits in the main compartment, and my Kindle and iPad (11") fit in the Air Caddy that slips into the front pocket of the Air Porter. This is the best traveling bag I’ve used – designed to slip easily under the seat in front, and stows an amazing amount of stuff.


The more I fly, the more I hate it. I stopped preparing for flights and just try to catch some sleep. I have some reading material on my iPad, but I rarely read mor than a dozen pages. Concentration and interest is at it’s lowest, and the whole flight “experience” is just a PITA. Please invent beaming.


I have been in the non-optimal situation of having to commute weekly by airplane for the last few months. It is getting slightly easier with each trip, but it’s certainly does not bring me joy.

To make the experience less bad, my workflow is as follows:

  1. As soon as I receive my flight’s booking reference, I add it as a calendar event on the date and time of the flight. This is the number used to find my reservation for the self check-in kiosks. The calendar is a handy place to refer to it.
  2. I always check the suitcase. Mine could fit in the overhead bin, but I love the option of putting it on the self-check-in belt and have minions magically ensure it appears at the destination. I have no desire to drag it around the airport and fight for the space with other travellers. I always make sure to add all the small bar-code stickers as well the big tag.
  3. I print and use the paper-based Boarding Pass. This way, I can keep my phone securely in my pocket while passing the security and gate checkpoints. Less risk of dropping and damaging my expensive phone in an often crowded and stressed situation. It is also the perfect place to stick the luggage tag receipt stub.
  4. For morning flights, I place my belt and watch in the backpack even before getting into the taxi.
  5. I like the window seat, it usually has more space for my backpack than than the aisle seat. I aim to always use the backpack to hold any items I need during the flight, and place them back directly when I’m done. Zippers are always securely closed after use.
  6. For morning flights, I will use the time to prepare for the day, continue working on some open task or other planning. The iPad Pro 12.9 is quite usable in cramped spaces.
  7. For afternoon flights, I get my good headphones out and enjoy some locally downloaded music from Spotify or Tidal. My brain is usually not up for any productive work at this stage, esp. after enjoying a beer in the Departure Hall Bar…
  8. Pay attention to the security briefing and location of emergency exits. (They claim there is a life vest under your seat, but have you ever checked?)
  9. Enjoy the view and any refreshments being served. Quality will vary…

I second the request for beaming. Until then I’ll rely on my trusty wired earpods. I don’t plug them into anything, but wearing them does discourage unwanted conversation.


+1 for QC35 Mark 2 headphones.

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When I book my flight the confirmation email goes straight to TripIt. That’s the central repository for all my travel information. I usually keep the bottom row of my iPhone home screen empty, but when I’m traveling the TripIt app gets moved there.

Check in online and print a paper boarding pass, at least for the flight to my destination. I also have it in the phone, just in case. Sometimes I’ll go all-electronic for the flight back since printing it at the hotel can be annoying.

I like to arrive at the airport early. I generally check a bag unless it’s a real short trip (like going to Chicago this weekend).

Most of the flight itself is usually spent reading on my Kindle.

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Noise-canceling headphones are a MUST: Bose QC35’s were all I saw on planes this past year.

As for my itinerary, I have to admit my approach is sort of bland: I make screen shots of all my booking confirmations and paste them into Apple Notes for quick access should I need them for details. I use Apple Wallet for all my boarding passes and e-Tickets (I’m sure most of us do this now).

In the past, I would save all booking confirmation info into individual Evernote notes, then add the note links to one master note and would click the links as I made my way through my itinerary during travel. I still forward all my confirmations to Evernote as a backup, but don’t go through the trouble of note linking anymore.

I fly a fair amount. I like noise cancelling headphones not so much for privacy, but for drowning out the constant engine noise.

I tend to bring my MacBook on most trips, and there’s always some photos that need to be rated, or if they’ve been evaluated already, they need metadata attached. Keywording is boring but less boring than flying.

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I think I would not like being disintegrated into atoms and then assembled again. I would basically die and only my copy would get out on the other end of the beamer :slight_smile:


True. Maybe Elon Musk’s BFR would be a better choice. And a more likely one.

Good points. I keep all receipts, hotel info, meeting plans, emails, PDFs of boarding passes, etc., in a group for each trip inside a DEVONthink data base that I sync to DEVONthink to Go. So there is nothing in doubt when I need info about the itinerary.

  1. Like @ChrisUpchurch, TripIt is my travel command center. It filled the gap nicely for me when WorldMate closed down its app. TripIt is synced to my calendar, so I don’t even have to add travel related appointments directly to my calendar any more. I was traveling nearly constantly between October and New Year’s and TripIt made the process streamlined and efficient.

  2. I am a one-bag traveler and never check my suitcase.

  3. I have my travel dopp kit always packed and ready. After I return from each trip, I have an OmniFocus task to remind me to replenish all the supplies.

  4. I have a standard packing checklist in drafts that I send to OmniFocus (using @RosemaryOrchard’s Drafts actions) once I start planning my trip.

  5. I have additional packing checklists depending on what I’m doing on the trip (AV kit; Remote Office; etc.)

  6. I create an “agenda” notebook in GoodNotes or note in Apple Notes to collect all the things I am doing at my destination: tickets; agendas; materials; etc.

  7. I often will create a special temporary tag in OmniFocus for all the tasks that I could possibly work on during the flights/rides/voyages/etc. The tag has more then I’d ever get done, but that’s just so I’ll have a variety of productive things I can do depending on my mood.

  8. I only use my 12.9" iPad Pro while in transit. It’s easy now, but it was almost impossible before iOS 11. With my iPad Air 2 and earlier versions of iOS it would sometimes take me a whole flight to do something that would take 1/4 that time on a more capable machine. Since iOS 11, though, there are enough good productivity tools that I can get the work I choose to do done as efficiently (sometimes more efficiently) than on macOS.

  9. I’m low maintenance after that. Noise on the plane does not bother me–I can sleep or work though it without difficulty. While, I’d rather travel in luxury, I can sit at the back of the plane in a cramped seat with a two year old jumping on me and still be okay.


I’m typing this from a plane :slight_smile: My 11” iPad Pro with keyboard folio has become my primary travel computing device (I still carry my 12” MacBook ‘cause a few things that I might have to do if things go badly wrong at work are still much easier on the slowest Mac than on the fastest iPad.

In flight I usually catch up on email and news. I also use Coda to do some light development work on my dev server back at the office. (I keep a Trello board of little outstanding tasks that are perfect for this kind of scenario) I’m really quite amazed that this can all be done from an airplane these days.

I keep shows and movies and books downloaded too, but rarely watch or read them.

As for actual workflows, I don’t really have anything that’s specific to travelling, but I’ve been looking for a good flight management app.

I also keep a Mophie Powerstation USB-c 3XL with me: It can deliver 45W of power and has enough capacity to make sure that even a long flight or a series of unexpected delays doesn’t leave me in a situation where I have to plug my stuff in to unknown USB ports on planes or in airports.


Give TripIt a try. I only do a few trips a year and the free version is adequate for me. You can forward your confirmation emails for flights and hotels to it, and it will build your itenery for you automatically. You can then share that with a spouse or coworkers. If you travel a lot, the paid version is probably worth it as well.


Cool! I’ll take a look!

I’ll second @rlamarch’s TripIt recommendation.

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I concur with the TripIt suggestion! I also use AirlineCheckins which can automatically check you into 2 flights a month for free, or if you buy their premium pass provides unlimited Wi-fi on partner airlines as well as automate unlimited checkins (useful if you’re busy in the run up to your flight!).

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