Ode to a Pen-a flying essential

pensAt Sydney airport this week, desperate passengers approached the departures area. looking for pens to complete their departure cards. The pens supplied by the airport had been ripped off the chains at the desk leaving their chains dangling. Any passenger seen with a pen was fair game, as passengers mobbed them! A shop nearby, was selling pens for $1.75 +, a slight markup on a pen sold for 30 cents elsewhere.

When travelling, I carry six pens: two in my laptop bag, one in my pocket, one with my passport and two in my main luggage. This might sound excessive but it means I am never without a pen. I can lose pens on a journey and not be stuck!  None of them are expensive as I confess that I pick them up from my convention tables and hotel rooms on each trip! If you are looking for pricier aeroplane friendly pens, check out this BT review.


Having my own pens on trips means I can fill out those inevitable paper based forms and cards, doodle, write the occasional postcard and complete the Sudoku in the back of the magazine! It is also a way to start conversations as people all around me ask if they can borrow my pen(s). Having my own pens has sped up entry and exit to countries, taxi rides and even hotel check ins. It has meant I can fill out forms while standing in a queue, speeding my journeys!

Many passengers rely on cabin crew to provide pens -they often dont have any! Air Asia have cleverly found a way around this selling a range of pens on board! (pictured left). Others rely on the kindness of strangers!

What is your flying essential?


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  1. I’m never without several pens and mechanical pencils. If I was flying overseas. I’d bring a couple dozen black cheapo pens with me that I get free during back to school sales in July and August. Then I could gift pens to people or sell them to the highest bidder. LOL

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