Long flight? Comb through 747 time-killing ideas

— -- Write a letter of apology to someone you've hurt or wronged.

Make animals out of straws.

Balance your checkbook.

Count the number of passengers you think have had plastic surgery.

These are just four of the 747 Things to Do on a Plane, a new flight manual on how to beat boredom at 30,000 feet (Adams Media, $10.95).

The tips — from serious to wacky ways to pass time — were compiled by Justin Cord Hayes, a high school English teacher who lives in Winston-Salem, N.C., and who, by the way, hasn't done much flying.

"But when you're a teacher, you have to fill up time usefully … to be able to think up things," Hayes, 38, says. "I've done a lot of that."

Some tips take creativity to the max, such as No. 270: Dye your hair. "Go to the bathroom and massage the dye in and return to your seat while it sets," he writes. "Head back to the restroom … and try your best at rinsing in that little sink. This may get messy, so take care."

Wonder how flight attendants, not to mention headrests, would react to that one?

Other ideas are more doable.

Find out a seatmate's profession and get useful info, Hayes suggests. Ask a police officer the best way to get out of a speeding ticket.

If you're next to a fellow film aficionado, come up with lines from movies and see if he or she can guess the title. Query a publisher on how to get your Great American Novel in the pipeline.

If you're flying with your sweetie, why not propose marriage as you soar among the clouds? Or just use that rare downtime in the skies to gaze at interesting cloud shapes.

The book wasn't his idea, Hayes candidly concedes. Publishers "gave me the title." And some of the puzzles, games and brain teasers among the tips are credited to other Adams Media authors.

Still, he shows creativity in dealing with flights. (He calls them "voluntary confinement.")

Take aboard a pocket dictionary and spend part of your trip learning new words. Decide on an ultimatum you need to give someone — and do it.

Play tray-table hockey. "Each of you takes a turn sliding your coin across the tray table with the intent of getting it as close to the edge as possible," he writes. One point if your coin is closest to the edge without going over. Two points if it hangs over the edge without falling over. Bumping your opponent's coin off is a good strategy, so change the coin-pushing order every round.

In real life, he has written a letter of apology or two — "but I didn't send one."

And his personal favorite idea is using air time to do things you don't get around to doing on the ground.

He advises taking along a book you've always wanted to read but never have, "that Proust or Finnegans Wake" or Canterbury Tales in Middle English.

"You don't take anything else (to read)," he says. "So you only read that. Flying is good for things you never have time for."

TELL US: How do you kill time on a plane? Share your ideas below.