Mark Malkoff is a New York comedian with a fear of flying, and has taken a pretty novel approach to confronting his fear: he's been spending the entire month of June living on a plane. Well, not just one, of course; he's been eating and sleeping on quite a few AirTran planes since the month began. He stays in touch with the rest of the world through Twitter and his website, MarkonAirTran.com, where he posts some pretty amusing videos he's taken on board. Last week, The Airline Blog had the opportunity to ask him a few questions:So first of all, why did you agree to do this? Did you approach AirTran or did they approach you?
I got the idea a year and a half ago to stay on a plane for an entire month to get over my fear of flying. AirTran had liked my previous work. I wanted to do the project. We sat down and it immediately became clear it was a good fit.
How much progress have you made in getting over your fear of flying?
My fear has gotten tons better. If I started at a ten, I'm now at a 3. Talking to the AirTran pilots has really helped. Also, just flying 13 to 14 hours every day has gotten me used to it.
What do you like best about living on the plane? And the worst?
The best are the AirTran flight attendants, and the wifi when I'm up in the sky. I don't think I'd survive without the wifi. It allows me to keep in contact with friends, family, and people on Twitter. The worst is washing my hair in the airplane bathroom. Sleeping alone on the plane isn't fun, either.
What do you mostly eat? Where do you get your food from?
Nice people bring me food from the airport. I try to stick to fruit and vegetables. I take a lot of vitamins every morning.
So far, what's the strangest experience you've had while living on an airplane?
People taking my picture while I'm sleeping was strange. Also, a few times I was sleeping alone on the plane at night [when] it started moving, being pulled to another gate. The first time it happened, I wasn't told ahead of time. I was just happy it didn't take off.
How difficult is it to keep track of where you're flying, and where you've already been?
I never know where I am, where I'm going, and how many times I've been to a particular city. For instance, I thought I was in Milwaukee for the third time and it was the eighth.
What are some of the little things that you do to try to keep some semblance of a 'normal' daily routine?
I wake up, get clean, dress, brush my teeth, eat fruit, check my email, and then see what cities I'm flying to that day. I don't usually know until the day before, but all the cities kind of blend together.
I saw the video of you getting showered down by the fire trucks at Flint airport. When you don't have the opportunity to do that, how do you keep clean?
I use baby wipes and wash my hair in the airplane bathroom. It's not fun, trust me. Getting hosed down on the tarmac in Flint was the cleanest I've been in weeks.
Is AirTran giving you frequent-flier miles? Do you get to keep them?
I hope so! My wife flies with me on the weekends. AirTran threw us an anniversary dinner on the wing of a plane. It was kind of incredible. The videos are a lot of fun. Passengers love being a part of it. We put up new content every day at markonairtran.com. My favorites are bingo with passengers, a flight attendant washing my hair mid-flight, and [playing] Twister.