Most of us are interested in planes – at least, a little bit. We want to know that they're definitely going to take off and land. We'd like the seats to be comfortable. We hope there aren't long queues for the toilets.
But that's generally where it ends. Planes get you from A to B. There's no more to it.
For some travellers, however, there's a lot more to it. Some travellers, to put it bluntly, are kind of obsessed. They love planes. They know planes. They get just as excited about the thing they're flying in as the place it's supposed to take them.
These people are plane nerds. And if you can say yes to a lot of the following, there's a good chance you're one too.
1. You know what the last three numbers on a Boeing plane mean
Boeing 777-9X and 777-8X
Most travellers know their Boeing 777 from their 767. They're able to spot a 747, with its bulbous head, and they know when they're looking at a spanking new Dreamliner. But what about all those other numbers? What's a 777-300? How does a 737-800 differ from a 737-500? If you know the answer to those questions, you're definitely a plane nerd.
2. You can pick any airline from the tail design
And you're not afraid to show it. Stand at the window in an international airport and you'll ravel off each airline just by the design on its tail. That's Emirates, that's China Southern, that's Lufthansa, that's Garuda …
3. You have a preference on what plane to fly in
I usually have no idea what sort of plane I'll be flying in until I step onto the thing and look at the safety card. People who love planes, however, have known for months. They knew when they booked the flight. In fact they chose the flight because they'd be flying on an A380, or a Dreamliner, or whatever their current favourite is.
4. You have an opinion on Embraers
Embraer is the third-largest producer of civil aircraft, behind Boeing and Airbus. These Brazilian-made planes are fairly common on US and Canadian domestic routes, as well as with smaller European airlines. Of course, if you're a plane nerd, you already knew that.
5. You're a member of multiple frequent flyer programs
Why limit yourself to one? If you love to fly and you do it often, if you like to spread yourself around different airlines to experience all of the varied products and make an informed decision on which is best, then you're probably a member of several rewards programs.
6. You look forward to flying
Most people either dread flying, or they're indifferent to it. For plane nerds, however, the flight is the holiday. The plane is the resort. This is the stuff you look forward to, far more than the actual destination.
7. You know about an airline's fleet
"Flying Emirates?" you say. "You'll probably be on an A380. You know they've got more than 100 of them in service?" Of course, the person you're talking to doesn't know that. No one does. No one, except …
8. You know the best seat … On every aircraft
Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner business class.
You've spent a long time studying seatguru.com. You've tested out the recommendations. It doesn't matter if you're flying in an A380, a Dreamliner, a 777, an A320 or a 737-900ER – you know the best seat on the aircraft to reserve, the one with the most leg room, the one furthest from the stinky toilets, the one that gets meal service first, and you've already reserved it.
9. You live on the flight path (and like it)
There's no such thing as boredom when you can just wander outside and spot a few of your favourite airlines cruising past.
10. You know if you've flown in a certain plane before
A Qantas A380 (left) and an Airbus A350-1000 (right) at Mascot Airport, Sydney. Photo: Kate Geraghty
I've had to Google most of the more obscure aircraft I've name-dropped in this story. I haven't the first clue what a 737-900ER looks like. And I definitely don't know if I've flown in one. Plane nerds, on the other hand, do, and would.
11. You love Air Crash Investigation
This show is not my idea of a good time. I don't really want to know about all the things that could and actually have gone wrong to make commercial airliners crash. Some people, though, revel in those details. They love knowing the inner workings of planes, the fallibility of them, and the processes that have been put in place to mitigate that.
12. Your phone is full of flight tracker apps
If you have one of these, you're probably not a plane nerd. However, if you have several of FlightAware, The Flight Tracker, FlightBoard, GateGuru, iFly, Flightradar24, or other apps designed to track planes around the world and identify which ones are currently flying above you, there's a slight chance you may have entered nerd-dom.
13. You know that that is LATAM flight 806 to Santiago
True plane nerds, of course, don't need an app. They can glance up into the sky, spot the tail design from a mile off, and know that, yep, that's LA806 on its way to Santiago. Running a few minutes late today, too.
14. You're convinced you could land the plane in an emergency
You've watched the shows. You've studied the mechanics. You've even played out the scenario on a flight simulator on your home computer. You're pretty sure, just quietly, that if anything goes wrong on your next flight, if the pilots have heart attacks and one of the passengers needs to step in, you'll be able to take this bird safely down.
Are you a plane nerd? What's the fascination? Or have you never taken much interest in planes?