Shaves on a Plane: The Joys of Grooming in Transit

The concept of shaving in the air has been mocked by comedians from Seinfeld to the makers of Airplane II: The Sequel. But all jokes aside, there’s truly no better time to get a good lather going.

Since I first heard Jerry Seinfeld’s terrific stand-up routine about airplane bathrooms” (skip to 7:53 mark) in 1998, I’ve dismissed plane shaving as basically a silly, frivolous, and impractical endeavor. As always, Seinfeld’s inflection makes the joke, but it still bears transcribing:

“I always go in the airplane bathroom. Even if I don’t have to go I gotta go in there. It’s nice it’s like your own little apartment on the plane isn’t it? Go in there, lock the door, the light comes on after a second—it’s like a little surprise party. But I’m always impressed by the amount of equipment that they have in that place. It’s little but they got the tissues, towels, closets, compartments, tiny slot—for used razor blades. They always have that. Who is shaving on the plane? And shaving so much, they're using UP razor blades? Is this what’s happening? What, is the Wolfman flying in there for Christ’s sake? Who could shave that much?”

Granted, in 1998 I was still new to the whole shaving thing. I also hadn’t been on many planes. But I’ve only recently discovered just how right—and just how wrong Mr. Seinfeld really is in his assessment, when I actually gave plane shaving a shot.

A few weeks ago I found myself entering hour 21 of a 22-hour flight to Singapore for a friend’s wedding. I would soon arrive in the early morning, but for my internal clock it would be just approaching bedtime. With an hour left to fly I knew I had to do something to kickstart my morning. So I locked the door to my private airplane apartment, pulled out a disposable razor and a my travel-friendly sample size of Vitamine and Sea’s shaving cream (a rich formula I trusted to lend a cramped and less-than-glamorous shave about as much sumptuousness as possible), and scraped away the vagaries of what had been, legitimately, the longest night of my life. Granted, just a neck clean up, but the simple act of running the razor over my face helped me re-orient my thoughts towards the morning (and my imminent groomsmen duties).

Can shaving cure jet lag? No. But the most important rule of getting over jet lag is setting your watch to local time the second you board the plane, right? Well, the more I travel the more I realize how tied simple acts of muscle memory and routine are for recalibrating one’s internal clock. Flossing, brushing, mouthwash, followed by 30 minutes with my book, and I’m out like a light. Conversely, exfoliating, moisturizing, and a big bowl of granola and suddenly it’s 8am no matter what the clock says. Of course, a glass of wine or a cup of coffee can help with this on either end too.

That little private apartment on the plane might be painfully cramped, but using it to your advantage can be the difference between a lost day and hitting the ground running. I say any time you have a red eye, shave like the Wolfman.

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Photo: 20th Century Fox

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