Ah, love. Sometimes — and in Shōjo series, very frequently — it's one-sided. When a character encounters that certain special someone who's totally out of their reach, a conveniently timed airplane flies by, and the unrequited lover spends several seconds staring at the airplane as it flies off into the distance, forever out of reach. In fantasy or historical series where there are no airplanes, a bird appears instead.
- Maison Ikkoku
- In one instance it represents Kyoko accepting the death of her husband and deciding to remarry.
- In episode 20 this seems to be combined with Disturbed Doves. Both Kozue and Kyoko are watching, so it isn't clear, but it had the symbolism and feel of Airplane Of Love.
- Looking Up at the Half-Moon features a scene where the protagonist and his tsundere crush share a moment watching the Airplane of Love fly by in the distance.
- Simoun subverts this: the Airplane of Love that Morinas sees when Neviril turns her down turns out to be an incoming enemy missile.
- In the manga of Love Hina, Keitaro and Naru have just begun to acknowledge their feelings for each other when Keitaro must leave for foreign study. He and Naru fall asleep while waiting for the plane, but Naru awakes alone in time to watch his plane depart.
- In Ichigo 100%, when Manaka thinks that Nishino is breaking up with him, the Airplane of Love suddenly appears above his head. It disappears as she clarifies. Then he thinks they're breaking up again, and it's another Airplane over his head. This happens three times in a row, indicating busy skies over the city!
- Genshiken also has a ridiculous amount of airplanes going over the university building when romance is just out of somebody's grasp. Obviously they're under a flightpath or something... Let's not forget that the whole POINT of Genshiken is to mess with not only all of these tropes, but the people that like to follow them.
- A temporary character in Monochrome Factor mentions that she wants to "ride the airplane of love".
- In FLCL it represents Mamimi's longing for Tasku Sempai, who has gone off to America to play Baseball, especially when she finds out he has an American girlfriend
- A variation in Hayate the Combat Butler because they are both clearly within reach of each other and believing I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me of each other, and Attractiveness Isolation on Hinagiku's side, Hinagiku manages to confess that she likes Hayate, only for him to be unable to hear because the train is rushing by.
- Toradora! — Inverted. When Ryuuji gives his "Tiger and Dragon" speech there are twin contrails in the sky, symbolizing his connection to Taiga. At the end of the series, when Ryuuji stands outside alone, the sky is empty, but he recalls the contrails as he vows to return to Taiga's side some day.
- Shows up in the finale of GUN×SWORD, though it's a flying mech rather than an airplane: After Wendy lets Van go without confessing her love, she watches him fly off in Dan. Comes complete with violent wind and sparkles.
- Played with quite a bit in episode 12 of The Pet Girl of Sakurasou. Mashiro gets an airplane flyby and Dramatic Wind shot while puzzling over her feelings for Sorata. But it isn't the usual symbolism, because it happens right after Sorata attempted a Race for Your Love to the airport, only to discover that Mashiro wasn't actually leaving. In the same scene, Rita's plane flies into the distance while Ryuunosuke, to his own confusion, stays behind and thinks about his Tsundere-ish feelings for her.
- Your Lie in April: In episode 20, Kaori calls Kousei via cellphone and cheerfully informs him that there is an airplane flying by on its night flight where she can see it from hospital windows. Kousei realized he also can see the same plane and looking at the same sky as her made him realize his true feelings for her.
- Makoto Shinkai has something of a liking for this:
- The Place Promised in Our Early Days has the Velaciela.
- In 5 Centimeters per Second, a space probe is launched into deep space as one of the characters realizes that the object of their love is completely beyond their reach.
- In The Garden of Words, one of the ending scenes has Takao reflecting on his feelings for Yukari as he watches a distant plane.
- In Your Name, after Taki and Miki's date ends, a plane can be seen passing overhead in the night sky.
- Chinese Box has this trope near the end of the film with Vivian and John, just when John's disease takes its toll on his body.
- In Battlestar Galactica, Apollo's relationship with Starbuck is metaphorically represented by this trope via Pigeon!Kara.
- Cheers, episode "Showdown, Part 1": Sam is trying to bury his distress about Diane leaving on a trip with Derek by going out with his babe of the week. As they are canoodling in the front of the bar, a plane whooshes overhead, and Sam looks up.
- There is a country song by Gary Allan called "Watchin' Airplanes". And those songs never end happily!
I'm just sittin' out here watching airplanes
Take off and fly
Tryin' to figure out which one you might be on
And why you don't love me anymore
- "This is the Day" by The The mentions this in the chorus:
You pull back the curtains, and the sun burns into your eyes
You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky
- Airport, by the motors, had this to say in 1978:
Airport, you've got a smiling face,
You took the one I love so far away
Fly her away - fly her away(Airport).
- Black Country, New Road has a sophisticated play on this throughout their album Ants From Up There, where the "Concorde" is a recurring lyric and overall thematic symbol (up to having a song named after it, and a Concorde airliner featuring on the album art). It's often used as a metaphor at face value to describe the beauty of romance, but it subtextually alludes to the "Concorde fallacy" of investing in a passionate endeavor that you know whose viability has long since expired, in turn highlighting how virtually all instances of love and passion in the album go unreturned or rejected.