I flew United, and United is unique in that on many flights, if you switch to channel 9 on the inflight entertainment system, you can listen in on the communications between the pilots and the ground. And not just for your plane, but for all the planes using that frequency. I find this stuff fascinating. I'm sure many would find it deadly dull, and to be honest, it usually is, especially when you're just coasting along over Nebraska. It's more fun on takeoff and (especially) landing, and if you're taxiing around a big airport like O'Hare. For example, on our descent into Oakland, I was listening to the controller checking with both our pilot, and the pilot of another plane also on approach, as to whether they could each see the other plane. The other pilot couldn't see us, but fortunately, we could see him. I felt comforted by that. Other folks would probably freak.
Coming home, I heard at least one pilot-controller exchange (not our plane) that was "How you doin?" "We're good. How you doin'?"
Sunday afternoons are especially busy at O'Hare, and you can hear folks start to get a little testy. I had plenty of time to listen, as we sat or taxied on the tarmac for an hour before we took off.
Ground: "Follow the... RJ [a commuter jet]. No, I don't know which one it is, just follow it."
After we took off, we were instructed to slow to 250 kts, about half speed, probably to allow an aircraft ahead of us to extend its distance ahead of us. A bit later came this exchange:
Pilot: "We're still at 250 kts. How long would you like us to maintain?"
Ground: "Oh, you can resume normal speed. I forgot about it."
There was some turbulence on the last leg, and it was neat to hear the pilots reporting where the smooth air was, and the chop, and the requests to go to different altitudes.
Okay, I found it interesting...
Off to the Angel finale party.