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Marathon Flying

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Last November, Christopher English flew around the world on four successive weekends. Days later he flew from his home in Washington, D.C., to Buenos Aires before jetting to Paris to celebrate New Year's eve. His apartment in Washington was outfitted with commercial airline seats.

I never knew Christopher English, but I recently read his obituary in The Washington Post. A foreign service officer, Mr. English died of cancer at age 48. And while he made his career as a diplomat, he traveled for fun. Ever since his childhood, he loved the idea. As a boy, he wrote Air France begging for a seat on the airline's first Concorde flight. Now, "fun" might not be your take on the kind of travel Mr. English did. His idea of a great weekend was to go to New Zealand. "It's perfect," a friend remembered him saying. "Eighteen hours in the air, 18 on the ground, and 18 in the air on the way back." He loved seeing airports, so much so that he once took more than 100 flights within Finland after buying a Finnair pass for 15 days of unlimited travel to its cities.

I'm sorry I never met Christopher English. While most of us drag ourselves through airports, he clearly thought it was all a grand adventure. Next time my flight is delayed, I'll try to remember to make the most of it, catch up on my reading or meet the person sitting next to me. I don't know if I can muster Mr. English's enthusiasm for marathon flying. But clearly, I can learn from his curiosity. For Mr. English, getting there was more than half the fun.


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