The Ultimate Inflight Playlist

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Frank Sinatra Sheriff
Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Tired of the music on the inflight audio channels? Well, we have the ultimate inflight playlist, over 42 songs that’ll last a transatlantic flight from New York to London, or Paris to Washington.

Musicians have long been fascinated by flying, from the days of Charlie Barnet’s big band and ‘Skyliner’ and Lionel Hampton’s ‘Flying Home’, to when jet travel came along and inspired Frank Sinatra to sing, ‘Come Fly With Me’ and a few years later the Byrds sang of ‘Eight Miles High’, and Jefferson Airplane of their, ‘High Flying Bird’.

We’ve got songs about jets, flight attendants, fighter planes, passenger planes, wooden planes, 747s, DC7s, and songs that have you ‘caught between the moon and New York City’. Peter Allen who co-wrote the song with Carole Bayer Sager, Burt Bacharach and Christopher Cross was inspired when coming into land to see the moon out of one window and the city out the other window as the aircraft banked.

And in case you’re wondering how some make the list, Gretchen Peters’s ‘Idlewild’ is the old name for JFK Airport, The Letter, quotes, “Give me a ticket for an aeroplane…” while ‘Herb Alpert’s ‘Rotation’ is a little more obscure – aircraft ‘rotate’ as part of their take-off routine.

Some gems to point you at: David Gates (the ex-Bread man) put ‘Suite: Clouds, Rain’ on his debut album and it is one of the most poignant songs about life on the road, as is CCR‘s ‘Travelin’ Band’. The Bible’s, ‘Skywriting’ is an overlooked classic, as is Art Garfunkel’s song of the same name. Check out Eric Clapton‘s homage to the joys of “hand-baggage only”. John and Beverley Martyn’s, ‘Auntie Aviator’ is lovely, as is Hall & Oates, ‘Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song).

Anyway, it’s music for listening too, not writing about, so load up your phone for the next time you take a flight somewhere:

42. Bomber – Motorhead

41. Night Flight – Led Zeppelin

40. Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft – Carpenters

39. Hold That Plane – Buddy Guy

38. Elevation – U2

37. Somewhere Over The Rainbow – Judy Garland

36. Eight Miles High – The Byrds

35. I’m Mandy Fly Me – 10cc

34. Suite: Clouds, Rain – David Gates

33. Space Oddity – David Bowie

32. Learning To Fly – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 

31. Leaving, On A Jet Plane – John Denver

30. Flying Without Wings – Peter Frampton

29. Fly Trouble – Hank Williams

28. Skywriter – Art Garfunkle

27. Auntie Aviator – John Martyn, Beverly Martyn

26. Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song) – Daryl Hall & John Oates

25. Rotation – Herb Alpert

24. Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd 

23. Given To Fly – Pearl Jam

22. Skywriting – The Bible

21. Flying – The Beatles

20. Straighten Up And Fly Right – Nat King Cole

19. Fly Like An Eagle – Steve Miller Band

18. Sparks Will Fly – The Rolling Stones

17. Up Where We Belong – Joe Cocker, Jennifer Warnes

16. Idlewild – Gretchen Peters

15. Come Fly With Me – Frank Sinatra

14. Flying Home – Lionel Hampton, Illinois Jacquet

13. Where The Swallows Fly – Bee Gees

12. Fly By Night – Rush

11. Sky Pilot – Eric Burdon & the Animals

10. Mister Airplane Man – Chester Burnett

9. Flying High Again – Ozzy Osbourne

8. Spread Your Wings – Queen

7. High Flying Bird – Jefferson Airplane

6. Wings Of A Dove – Madness

5. Jet – Paul McCartney and Wings

4. D.B. Cooper – Todd Snider

3. Travelin’ Band – Creedence Clearwater Revival

2. Travelin’ Light – Eric Clapton

1. Skyliner – Charlie Barnet

Format: Union Jack flagUK English


  1. Adriano

    October 19, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Very good!!!! Great musics!!! Great musicians!!
    Adriano Henrique, writer.
    Telephone: +55(81)9203-1920

  2. Oswaldo

    October 20, 2014 at 12:06 am

    A thousand miles away, Hoodoo Gurus
    Night flight, Led Zeppelin
    Flight of Icarus, Iron Maiden
    Flying high again, Ozzy Osbourne

  3. Steve

    October 28, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Sky Pilot…Eric Burdon
    DB Cooper…Todd Snider
    On the Wings of a Dove…

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