I think I mentioned earlier that I have a problem with airplane landings. (The worst part used to be the few seconds where the plane fights against gravity for take off.) My solution has been to talk to the person next to me during the last five minutes of descent. This works in a couple ways:
1) I don’t usually talk to the person next to me when I sit down, or during the flight. There is some inherent awkwardness in having a pleasant small talk conversation, then sitting next to a person in silence for two hours. This way, you establish silence from the beginning. Then, as everyone starts looking down at the ground during landing, you can start the conversation with something like, “Are you from Minneapolis? I think we’re flying over my apartment right now.”
2) Inevitably, I’ll learn something interesting about the person I’m sitting next to. Last night, the woman was originally from Liberia, but had lived in America for a number of years (currently living in Woodbury). Her daughter is studying mechanical engineering at Purdue, and has a five year old boy. She was in Philadelphia for the first communion of her godson, the son of her friend from grade school in Liberia. Her husband was arriving from Liberia that night as well, since they have businesses there. She is also a devout Catholic, and hates turbulence more than landing (she called two people before the plane took off to have them pray for her, and said a prayer with a rosary [but not Hail Mary]). All in five minutes! Magic.