Top 10 movies you should NEVER watch on a plane

Clint Eastwood’s true story thriller ‘Sully’ jets into cinemas this week but thanks to its intense aeronautical content, it’s one of many movies we would never recommend you watch in flight…

‘Alive’ (1993)

Alive (1993) Buckle up - Credit: Buena Vista Pictures
Alive (1993) Buckle up – Credit: Buena Vista Pictures

There’s a fairy obvious reason you won’t find this 1993 Frank Marshall movie when browsing through your plane’s movie catalogue – there’s a honking great plane crash in Act 1, which leaves an entire Uruguayan rugby team stranded in the Andes. When they find out no help is coming, the survivors make a torturous decision to eat the flesh of the passengers that died in the crash. And to be honest, the last thing the staff on your flight needs is passengers giving each other side-eyes trying to figure out who’s going to get eaten first. Hint: the American on his second jam roly-poly is going to be popular.

‘Fearless’ (1993)

Fearless (1993) Credit: Warner Bros.
Fearless (1993) Hold tight Credit: Warner Bros.

Sure, on the surface, this Peter Weir movie appears to show the upside of surviving a plane crash. Think positive! Jeff Bridges accepts that his death is imminent as his plane plummets towards the ground, but when he survives, his fearlessness is seen as an asset – that is, until he starts prancing around on rooftops, convinced of his own immortality. Eventually, an allergy to strawberries is what jolts him back to the real world. Could this happen to you? If you survived a crash, would you distance yourself from your family, thinking yourself a God? Maybe just watch ‘Minions’ instead. Better safe than sorry.

‘Cast Away’ (2000)

Cast Away (2000) Wilson - Credit: DreamWorks Pictures
Cast Away (2000) Wilson – Credit: DreamWorks Pictures

This is the real question. If, god forbid, your plane goes down and you’re lucky enough to survive, could you make it on your own? How long would it be before you’re a gibbering wreck, holding conversations with sports equipment? How long would it take you to make fire? A month? Never? Tom Hanks is an actor and the script required him to make fire. In the real world, no one has ever actually created fire with sticks. It just doesn’t happen. Surely there are other more suitable Tom Hanks movies you could watch on your flight? Ooh, ‘Captain Phillips’!

‘Contagion’ (2011)

Contagion (2011) Coughs and sneezes - Credit: Warner Bros.
Contagion (2011) Coughs and sneezes – Credit: Warner Bros.

Everyone knows that the recirculated air on planes makes it easier to get sick – particles of that sneeze from seat 3A are still floating around the heads of all of your fellow passengers. ‘Contagion’ is a movie that shows just how easily airborne viruses can spread: death can be just one snotty handshake away. And come to think of it, that businessman in seat 7B has been sniffing ever since you left the runway at Luton. Is it H1N1 he has? Or maybe Bird Flu? Is that even a thing any more? The only way to be really safe is to lock yourself in the toilet and breathe through a flannel until you touch down on the tarmac. Wait, you touched the door handle with your bare hand? Oh man. It’s over. Rest in peace.

‘Flight’ (2012)

Thank heavens for pilots. Strong, strapping individuals. Cloud overlords. Flawless humans that spit in the face of physics. It very much helps to think that the one pair of hands that stands between sailing gracefully through the air and nosediving towards the ocean belongs to basically an emotionless robot, programmed to get your butt back on terra firma without spilling your drink. So maybe don’t watch a movie where it’s revealed that – spoiler! – pilots are people too, and they have addictions just like you and I, and sometimes those addictions get taken into the cockpit. We recommend you just ceaselessly watch that little blinking dot move slowly towards Benidorm on the fancy map and hope your pilot is as boring as he sounds on the intercom.

‘Knowing’ (2009)

Knowing (2009) Credit: Summit Entertainment
Knowing (2009) Credit: Summit Entertainment

This is a very silly apocalyptic movie indeed – any film where Nicolas Cage is called upon to yell lines like “THE CAVES CAN’T SAVE US!” isn’t going to give you too many nightmares. However – and here’s the clincher – it does feature one of the most stomach-churning plane crash sequences ever committed to film. It’s shot from the ground – as if that helps, your knuckles whitening from clutching your complimentary G&T – in one unblinking sequence, showing the plane stuttering in the air before landing with a bump. Aren’t there any other Nicolas Cage movies showing that you’d rather watch on your flight? Hmm… ‘The Wicker Man’? You resume watching the plane crash movie with a heavy heart.

‘United 93’ (2006)

United 93 (2006) Credit: Universal Pictures
United 93 (2006) Credit: Universal Pictures

Paul Greengrass’s account of that fateful day in September 2001 is a difficult watch on land, sea or air, but there’s a reason you’ll see a big gap between ‘Union Pacific’ and ‘Universal Soldier’ on your in-flight movie catalogue – no one needs to be reminded of 9/11 when they’re a mile into the sky. It’s actually one of the more level-headed movies to address the events of September 11th, but that doesn’t get around the fact that watching ‘United 93’ while on a plane is a bit like watching ‘Titanic’ on a cruise liner or watching ‘Dante’s Peak’ as you’re squatting over an active volcano.

‘Flightplan’ (2005)

Flight Plan (2005) Credit:
Flight Plan (2005) Credit:

In reality, flights are quite dull. The most exciting thing that can feasibly happen to you mid-flight is that some kid kicks the back of your chair and you spend the rest of the trip fantasising of karate chopping them in the throat. The last thing your under-stimulated imagination needs is to be ignited by an Agatha Christie-esque missing persons mystery in the skies. Before you know it, you’re questioning the sweet German backpackers in front of you to find out what happened to your absent peanuts, rifling through the bins in the stewards’ department for clues and searching for the pilot’s Twitter account to see if this thing goes all the way to the top.

‘Final Destination’ (2000)

Final Destination (2000) All aboard - Credit: New Line
Final Destination (2000) All aboard – Credit: New Line

You just wanted to watch a good old-fashioned movie about American teenagers being brutally murdered one by one, but all of sudden, you’re being confronted with images of a mid-flight explosion, as passengers are sucked from the back of what used to be Flight 180 and spat into the merciless black night. The perfect time to regret watching this movie was definitely last night, and not right now, in the sky, literally up in the clouds, mocking the heavens, the sun glinting off your plane’s rear carriage as if it’s mooning fate itself. You could have read a book, but you had to watch a movie, this movie, on this, the last day before Death catches up with you. You start writing one tearful final text to your family members before you realise you touched down at Heathrow 15 minutes ago. Sweet! ‘Final Destination 2’ for the long car ride home?

‘Snakes On A Plane’ (2006)

Snakes on a Plane (2006) - Credit: New Line
Snakes on a Plane (2006) – Credit: New Line

Really? ‘Snakes On A Plane’. That’s the movie you’ve chosen to watch on your flight. ‘Snakes On A Plane’. Out of all the movies that have ever been made, from all the choice you have on that little screen on the back of the headrest of the seat in front, among all of the Oscar winners and classic dramas and compelling, rich cinematic treats that await, you chose ‘Snakes On A Plane’. A movie about snakes on a plane. You know what? You watch ‘Snakes On A Plane’. You watch it. You’ll suffer consequences far worse than crashing or being hijacked or contracting a deadly virus – you’ll suffer the punishment of having watched ‘Snakes On A Plane’, the cruellest fate of all.