Setting Thesaurus Entry: Airplanes


Narrow aisle. stewards/stewardesses greeting you as you walk on, navy blue fabric seats, overhead compartments, armrests, seat belts, small porthole windows, some shutters open & others closed, people blocking the aisle putting carry on away or grabbing something out of the overhead compartments, emergency exit mid plane, fold down trays, in-flight magazine, safety instructions manual tucked in a slot in the seat back in front of you, TV in seat in front of you, barf baggie, old newspaper left behind from previous passenger, people playing cards or a travel board game like crib, drink cart, airline pretzels/cookies/health snack, plastic cups of coffee, pop, water, tea, coffee carafe, single serving alcoholic beverages, napkins, stirring sticks, cookie wrappers, passengers, laptops, ipads, iPhone, ipods, handheld gaming devices, magazines, people reading books, people holding babies and toddlers on their laps, turnable air vents above, overhead light, call button for the stewardess, jack for headphones, volume control button on seat, radio settings on seat, people eating food brought on the plane or purchased if the plane serves food, curtain separating first class, cheap foam pillows with recyclable covers, headrest covers, cubbyhole at feet for purses, backpacks and bags, carpeted flooring, lighted aisle in case of an emergency, seat-as-flotation device, oxygen masks that drop down if cabin pressure is compromised, jump seat for stewardess on wall, galley , narrow bathroom stalls with toilet, mirror, sink and smoke alarm, row number and seat letters above seats, fire extinguisher on wall, medikit close by on wall or in galley, locked, reinforced doorway to pilot's cockpit, galley fridge compartment, coffee maker, stocked carts, storage bins, extra beverage containers and sundries, aspirin/Tylenol, plains clothed air Marshall


Plane engines, a squeaky beverage cart, music/TV in headphones, laughter, people talking, laughing, snoring, babies crying, the swish of fabric as people readjust for comfort or remove a coat or sweater, zippers unzipping, rustling bags and backpacks, the clunk of a tray locking into position, the rustle of newspapers and magazines, crisp book pages turning, people typing on keyboards, The stewardess asking questions, food wrappers wrinkling and being balled up, coughing, throat clearing, a shudder and hull squeak as the plane hits turbulence, thumping if it's strong enough to cause luggage to shift in overhead bins, People saying 'Excuse me' as they walk past in the aisle or get up from their seat, toilets flushing, bathroom door shutting and the click of a lock, bins snapping shut, a loud passenger complaining, creaky seats, the bell signalling seat belts can be removed or that the captain is going to address the flight, the captain's voice over the loudspeaker describing the flight conditions, weather at destination, flight time and possibly a few jokes


A person sitting close by wearing too much cologne or perfume, food being eaten, coffee, canned air, minty gum, bad breath, beer, a whiff of hand sanitizer, sweat, BO, old fabric, hair products, smelly feet if someone takes their shoes off, diapers that need changing if sitting with a baby or toddler, vomit if someone needs to use their airsickness bag, cough drops, paper from books and ink from glossy magazines, taco chips


Water, coffee, pop, juice, tea, sugar, alcoholic drinks (wine, beer, spirits), plane food or food bought in airport (sandwiches, pizza, chocolate bars, chips, granola bars, bagels, muffins, wraps, cookies, pretzels, snack mixes) cough drops, mouthwash, mints, gum, sour or bitter 'dry mouth'


Hard, too-narrow armrests, bumping/nudging/brushing against the passenger next to you, cramped, hunched back trying to get from window seat to aisle, sliding a bag out from seat in front, digging through it for a book or snack, feet sliding on floor, adjusting fr comfort and to stretch legs, rolling shoulders and neck, kinks in the neck, twisting and lifting to stretch back, slouching in seat, trying to make self small to get past passengers to the aisle, having to lean over someone while standing in the aisle so another can pass, waiting for the restroom, kid behind you kicking the seat, a tight seat belt, pressing the TV's touch screen, fingers on a mouse or keyboard if using a computer, holding a book open and reading, turning pages, playing a card game or crib with another passenger or family member, balling up a napkin, pulling off the wrapper of a complementary bag of cookies, sipping at hot coffee, stirring in a packet of sugar, sipping drinks, patting lips with a napkin, brushing crumbs off shirt front, lifting or lowering the shade on the window, leaning this way and that to see out the window, walking down the aisle, smiling and saying hello to passengers as you make eye contact, setting seat back to sleep, covering self with a coat for comfort or sleep, passing trash to the stewardess, rifling through the contents of the magazine pouch in the seat in front of you out of boredom, drawing, doodling or writing in a notebook

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Donny had the worst luck on business trips. If the flight was a small, forty-five minute hop, he'd have the the row to himself and sometimes even be bumped to the front where he could take advantage of the ample leg room. But for the soul-crushing, eight hour flights to the UK, he'd always be stuck next to a shrieky toddler whose Mother hadn't bothered to pack anything to entertain the kid with, or a grossly overweight guy creating seat spillover because he was too embarrassed or cheap to spring for a second seat.

Example 2:

I glanced sidelong at the passenger next to me in the window seat. Sweat glistened on his pale face and his hands gripped the armrests hard enough to cause bruising. I closed my eyes and leaned back in my seat, praying the plane didn't hit air turbulence. Something told me this guy was a hurler, and I didn't trust that he'd be able to make it to the bathroom in time.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

The bitter, snarky stewardess who complained about keeping my guitar case in her galley was even scarier at the helm of a metal serving cart. The gleam in her eye and the cart's sudden jerk forward as I rose from my seat said she was locked and loaded to mow me down like an evasive weed if I came within range.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

The rough pocket of turbulence transformed the passengers into a group of unfortunate epileptics suffering a mass seizure.

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Kate said...

Not forgetting that awful smell down the back of the plane when they open all the sealed meals. When we came to Australia as kids, it was that smell every few hours that made us all add to that other smell you mentioned. I can still remember it vividly!

Good list!

Julie Musil said...

Ahhhh! I feel like I was on this very plane! Excellent post, as always.

Wendy Marcus said...

My favorites are claustrophobic, death trap, unstable, loss of control, bumpy, scary, need to escape.......
Do I have a fear of flying? Why yes. I do. But I will deal with it so I can make it to National. Hope to meet you there!

Mary Witzl said...

The smell I always find intriguing is that combination of toilet disinfectant, the stewardesses' cologne, and vacuum cleaner.

Once again, I found your examples inspiring!


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