Many business travelers dream about working on the planes they fly on. They spend so many hours up in the air, it would be great if they could use them to wrap up loose ends or get ahead on projects. However, planes provide an endless list of distractions and barriers to getting work done. If you’re not careful, your remote office space 30,000 feet in the air could become a work nightmare.

Follow these steps if you want to work on your next trip in order to make the most of your in-flight experience.

Invest in Quality Earplugs or Noise-Cancelling Headphones


Have you ever sat down on a flight and realized that a screaming child was right next to you? Crying babies, yelling kids, and scolding parents can make any flight feel ten times longer, especially if you’re trying to get work done while you’re in the air. Traveling families aren’t even the worst part. All you need is an overly chatty passenger sitting within a few rows, and you will have to put up with endless stories that you never wanted to hear.

The secret to tuning out these distractions is sound control. Invest in high-end earplugs that can block the conversations of other travelers or buy some noise-cancelling headphones so you can play music over the yelling kids. These devices can help you focus on your tasks and get into a productivity groove.

Set Clear Goals for What You Need to Accomplish

Are you planning to actually get stuff done on your flight, or do you think working will help pass the time? If the answer is the latter, then your flight could be much less productive than you hope. Magazines, in-flight movies, and other distractions can prevent you from actually getting work done. Even the gentle hum of the plan can put some people to sleep shortly after takeoff, which means they don’t get anything at all done.

Before you board, set clear assignments for what you need to get done on the flight and stick to them. Once you finish, you can lean back and watch a movie or take a much-needed nap.

Choose Lighter Tasks That Change Often

If you find that you struggle to work on airplanes because of distractions, then consider changing the work you’re doing. Instead of assigning yourself a dense project that requires your full focus, create a small list of tasks that need to be accomplished while you’re in the air. This might mean responding to emails and clearing your inbox, reviewing a presentation for when you land or organizing your workload for maximum efficiency. Choose tasks that don’t take too much time and brainpower. This way, you can get distracted between tasks and then easily pick up where you left off.

Eat Before You Board

Many people accept the complimentary drinks and snacks when they travel. Even if you’re not hungry, you could “bored eat” and snack aimlessly to make time go by. However, airplanes have such limited space that accepting drinks or snacks means packing up your items to make room for food on your tray table. To stay focused, eat beforehand and skip the meal cart. This way, you won’t stop working and get distracted by a packet of stale pretzels.

Check Your Internet Access Beforehand

While more flights than ever offer complimentary Wi-Fi, some still require passengers to pay for it. Older aircraft, budget plans, and smaller models might not have Wi-Fi at all, leaving you stranded and unable to work. You should know the Wi-Fi situation before you even depart for the airport. Check to make sure Wi-Fi is offered before booking.

If your airline or route doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, you don’t have to completely disconnect during your trip. Carriers like T-Mobile offers Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi and texting. Customers can send text messages, check email, and surf the web on their phones without having to worry about a reliable connection. Plus, the first hour is free, which allows you to set a time limit for maximum productivity.

By following these tips, you can turn your long flight into a productive one. Never again will you worry about screaming kids, limited access to Wi-Fi, or napping through your work hours.