It's getting down to the crunch of Christmas gift-giving time. What do you get that certain someone who seems to already have everything? Let me ask you this: Does your hard-to-please friend travel by air at all? Yes? Then the perfect gift just might be found by looking around the aircraft cabin.
Here are 12 days of Christmas for your high-flying friends.
1. Cancellation insurance. Bose noise-canceling headsets are the most popular in-flight gadgets, bar none. They are perfect for that frequent flier or for anyone who dreads flying. They can truly make the difference between a good flight and a bad one. If the Bose headsets are out of your budget, you can get a decent pair from Sony for a quarter of the price.
2. An in-flight toast. After a tense business meeting, many fliers could use an in-flight cocktail. But you'd be surprised how many people are too tightfisted to spring for a drink, or don't have any cash on them. Here's an idea: How about a book of drink coupons good on your friend's usual airline? Contact the airline's frequent-flier club or customer service department for more information.
3. Laughter and travel tips. My new book, "Flying High with A Frank Steward," is out now, and it's packed full of laughs and tips that could just make that certain someone's flight a whole lot better. Available now from Amazon.com and at your local bookstore. No, I don't have a problem with shameless plugs.
4. Speaking of plugs. A universal travel adapter with surge protection is a great gift for any traveler, but especially for those who fly to many different countries with their laptop computers. Adapters can usually be found in duty-free shops, travel stores and your local electronics shop.
5. Free calls. An Internet travel phone with a USB connector is a good inexpensive gift and a great hint for that special someone to call you — free — while away from home. The phone I swear by and always use is the Phillips VOIP 80, and the free program I mentioned is Skype.
6. In-flight distractions. Portable video MP3 players are the big in-flight gadgets these days. You can download your favorite TV shows, movies and music to take traveling with you. It's a whole lot better than suffering through the in-flight movie, and great for those long delays. There are many adequate players out there, but my favorite is the Creative Zen.
7. A good book. A gift card would allow your friend to buy a book in the airport between connecting flights. Borders and Barnes & Noble seem to be the biggest chains of airport bookstores out there, so buy one of each to increase the odds. (Did I mention that my book is available now?)
8. Home away from home. Homemade gifts are sometimes the most thoughtful and many times the best to receive. How about making a CD with a bunch of your favorite photos and putting a slideshow together with your favorite music? Then your special someone could put it in their laptop when they are flying and feel like they are at home. My wife made me one last year and I can't tell you how many times I have watched it.
9. Ear peace. This simple stocking stuffer is the most inexpensive way to salvage an awful flight — and maybe the best. It's earplugs. You can buy a jar of 50 at your local drugstore. Most any earplugs will do, but the brand I always use is "Hearos."
10. A return to childhood. A great way to pass the flight, albeit unproductively, is by playing a portable video game. Great for kids but just as great for adults who need an entertaining diversion from sitting in a metal tube several miles in the sky. I know I would love one, but I am too stingy to buy one for myself.
11. Lounge pass. Your favorite airline probably has an airport lounge in most of the major airports. It's a place to unwind, have a drink, do some business or wait out delays — and some even have showers and sleep facilities. You can usually buy a pass good for one entrance. If your friend complains nonstop about his airline or already has a membership to the lounge, buy a pass for a different airline's lounge. Contact the airline's frequent-flier club or customer service department for more information.
12. The gift of travel. It's one thing to fantasize about visiting some special destination, it's another to actually book it. This holiday season, commit yourself to actually going to a place you have long dreamed of. If you are unsure about the dates or itinerary, make a tentative booking that can be altered or canceled. Sometimes just making the reservation is enough to convince you that your dream trip can actually happen. Before you know it, you could be on your way.
I hope these gift ideas help. May you have a Merry Christmas and always remember: It may be all about the giving, but the receiving is pretty great, too.
James Wysong has worked as a flight attendant with two major international carriers during the past fifteen years. He is the author of the "The Plane Truth: Shift Happens at 35,000 Feet" and "The Air Traveler's Survival Guide." For more information about James or his books, please visit or .