People miss flying so much they’re re-creating the airplane experience from home

THE WASHINGTON POST – Using nothing more than common household items like toilet seats, large appliances and the nearest device with a screen, people on social media are replicating the feelings of flying in style to their favourite destinations or of camping in the woods – all while practising social distancing.

A video from TikTok user Jeroen Gortworst, which has since been shared hundreds of thousands of times, shows him seemingly descending on Saint Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport while he sips on a drink with his passport.

But as the camera pulls back, the scene coming into full view, you see Gortworst, sitting in front of a makeshift tray table, on the floor of his laundry room, his washing machine covered to look like an interior cabin wall. His phone is illuminated inside of it, playing a video shot from a plane’s window passenger as it lands.

With non-essential travel restricted, the Internet’s #travelfromhome trend – with nearly 30 million TikTok views as of Tuesday afternoon – is the closest most can come to boarding a plane. And optical illusions like Gortworst’s are a staple of it.

On Facebook, one user shared a photo of herself seemingly gazing out of a plane window at crystal-blue water; in the next, it’s revealed that the scene is set in a room in her house, with another person holding up a toilet seat in front of a YouTube video of the ocean.

“The longer we stay at home, the more creative we become,” the poster, Shawndra Bailey Blue, wrote.

Another video shared on TikTok shows a plane-window perspective above the clouds. When the camera zooms out, it shows a scene of a woman in a flight attendant’s uniform holding a toilet seat in front of her living-room TV, welcoming viewers to their flight to “absolutely nowhere”.

The trend is spreading as coronavirus-induced travel restrictions upend popular destinations around the world. Some museums and historic sites have attempted to bring their experiences into travellers’ homes with virtual tours, while beaches, aquariums and national parks are offering live streams.

Beyond such sights, however, travellers appear to miss even the mundane. One Twitter user designed a custom boarding pass for a FaceTime call; another tried to re-create the Delta experience at home with a purchase of its famous Biscoff cookies.

Even less glamorously, one TikTok user posted a video depicting travel to an airline departure gate with her carry-on and passport in hand. When the scene is interrupted, it shows her on the track of a treadmill as she steps off with a defeated expression.

But the trend isn’t just trained on flying. One TikTok video, for instance, shows a woman in full camping gear as she takes viewers farther on a “hike”. She lingers in front of the “wilderness” shrubbery on her property, warning of bears, then steps inside the front door of her home to find the “campsite,” complete with a cozy tent.

She pans back to the view of her living room couch. The words “Stay Home” can be seen on her sweatpants.