Are You Willing And Able?

This past month, I’ve actually spent quality time in each destination I’ve traveled to. I was in The Florida Keys with my family and friends for a week and a half, my hometown in Georgia for a week, and I ended the month in New York City for the past 2 and a half weeks.

These week-long stays are different for me. This year I’ve been so used to jet-setting at the last second, hopping across the country for 24 hours and then heading back to my origin. It’s been an adventure to say the least, but I also became exhausted from the travel. To be able to stay put and spend time maintaining my relationships and simply enjoy life has been the best blessing this month.

But of course, there had to be at least one typical “Fly Girl” move in a 31 day span.

I was scheduled to be in New York City for two weeks working at Broadway Artists Alliance. At the end of my second week, I was offered to stay for the next session, a longer and more demanding program. I accepted, but realized I needed some extra items from back home to make everything work. I decided to fly home for one night, do laundry, unpack and repack, and then head back to The City the next day. 24 hours sounds like enough time, right?

Except I gave myself 12 hours. I had been fighting a cold at the end of the previous session, and decided that on my off day, Saturday, I needed to sleep in rather than wake up at the crack of dawn to get back to ATL sooner. I slept until 9 am, and then packed up my belongings to head to the airport.

However, the flights began to crunch and then the plane I chose was delayed for an hour and a half. I ended up touching down in Atlanta around 7pm on Saturday.

My mom made me a healthy dinner and we caught up on our favorite half-hour comedy show, a friend came over to catch up for a little bit, I did all of my laundry, settled some discussions and decisions I needed to face for my Fall semester, and got about 6 hours of sleep.

My flight the next morning was scheduled for 8:30 am. I needed to get back to The City around noon for a brunch date for my friend’s birthday, so I chose a flight that would get me to New York in time, the latest one possible so that I could sleep as much as I could.

As I fell asleep around 12:45 am, I decided to set my alarm for 10 minutes before my departure time from my house. I told my mom that we should aim to be at the airport at 7:45 am, the last possible second  to check in before the flight. (In order to get your boarding pass, you must check in at least 45 minutes prior to departure time).

I arrived at the airport right on the dot, but forgot that I would need to check my bag. Upon going to SkyCap, the bag handler told me I was too late, that I was right on the nose but the system wouldn’t let him check me in. Normally, I would panic. And I had maybe a millisecond of worry- I flagged my mom down, telling her I would have to try upstairs instead.

When I got upstairs, the line for baggage drop was crazy long and time was ticking. But I breathed, and attempted to check in at the kiosk. I selected “Check Bag”, but the kiosk relayed that it was too late to check in. I would have to switch to the next flight and miss my brunch.

But somehow a wave of peace crashed over me. I decided not to panic, that there were so many people suffering in the world that my situation was hardly worth any negativity. I calmly went back downstairs and outside to the curbside check-in. I stood in the Sky Priority line this time, waiting to talk to an agent and simultaneously trying to put myself on the next flight to LaGuardia. But my phone lost service, and the agent called me up to the stand. I breathed in and decided to act like everything was normal. It was now 7:55 am, 35 minutes until my plane was scheduled to depart.

I smiled at Claudia, showing her my ID and telling her I was on the 8:30 am flight to LaGuardia. She exclaimed that she loved my middle name, and we talked about how it was French. “Keep it light, Kel”, I thought. “You are ok”.

She looked at her computer screen, saying, “Hmm it may be too late to check this bag…”

I smiled and said, “Oh! I have TSA Pre-Check though, maybe that will help?” Dimples fully flashed.

And somehow, thank the Lord, the next thing I knew I was through security within 5 minutes (TSA Pre-Check is SO worth it) arriving my gate at 8:05 for my 8:30 am flight. I boarded right away, sitting in the window seat of an Exit Row, with lots of leg room and a perfect seat for the fly-over view of New York City upon our descent to LaGuardia. The best part? I got the whole row to myself.

*

These past three weeks in New York have taught me to look at the positive in every situation.  I am truly privileged to be waking up every morning, going to work in the greatest city in the world alongside my truest friends.

There are numerous things in life that are worth your brain space, and countless other things that are not worth your time or energy. I’m sure I sound rote by saying this, but we are blessed to wake up each day, and little travel woes are nothing compared to the big picture of life.

Life can be overwhelming sometimes, but the best way to get through any situation is by breathing and smiling. You will immediately gain energy, even in the most dire circumstances. And many times, being slow to speak and quick and stay positive will get you farther along than you would think. If you let the situation ride out for a minute, you may even get the result you were hoping for.

But it’s not about the give and take. It’s not about the possibility of maybe getting your way only if you stay positive. It’s about truly trusting that everything is going to be ok. If I miss this flight, I can hop on the next one. If I don’t get enough sleep tonight, I can go to bed early tomorrow. You will be taken care of if you let yourself relax and thank God for the day you’re living. Because God is taking care of you. He has you in the palm of His hand, and wants you to enjoy each day he brings you. Whether it’s the best or worst day of your life, it’s a blessing to be able to enjoy it.

Are you willing and able to breathe and truly enjoy each day? By being alive, the latter half of that answer is already “yes”. It’s up to you to make it a double.

-The Fly Girl

 

 

In Flight Entertainment

In Flight Entertainment

After being on a total of 60 flights in less than 6 months, you could say I’ve logged a good number of hours on airplanes this year so far. In fact that may be the understatement of the century. So what do I do with my time in the sky?

Well, during the school year I do homework. Honestly, I save most of my schoolwork for the plane because I can get so much done. Most of my treks are back and forth from LA to Atlanta, a flight time of around 4 hours and 30 minutes heading East and 3 hours and 40 minutes heading West. That gives me lots of time to read textbooks, type essays, and write discussion posts.

Think about it- on the plane, there’s nothing to distract you. No friends to talk to, no cell service, no WiFi (unless you pay for it which I don’t); just you and yourself for however long the flight lasts. I am so focused on my work that I actually do a better job of it when I am flying versus when I’m sitting in my room in LA. Doing it at home is so last year, I may as well change the phrase to “planework”.

But I don’t just save this time for little assignments- I have done major projects, papers, and even exams on the airplane before (for this one I did indeed buy WiFi). One of my best stories is when I wrote a 10-page final essay from the business class cabin of an airplane heading to Paris. It was my final and biggest grade for the semester, a paper that I had yet to do so I saved it for the 8-hour plane ride. After finishing it about 3 hours into the flight, I bought WiFi for 30 minutes and turned that puppy in from 30,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.

So folks, the lesson here is: don’t ever give any excuses for late work, cause where there’s a will there’s a way.

Actually that’s not the point I was going for… really what I wanted to say was that you would be surprised how much you can accomplish from 30,000 feet if you put your mind to it.

*

Now that spring semester is over and summer break has begun, I can truly enjoy all of the entertainment that airplanes have to offer. There are a plethora of movie selections that rotate in, with new releases coming in at the first of every new month.

I have always felt guilty about using my time to watch TV or movies because it doesn’t feel productive to me. So in the summertime, I always try to watch classic movies on the airplane, movies that everyone and their mother has seen except me and it’s about darn time I do. This year I finally got to watching Titanic, Gone With The Wind, Citizen Kane, To Kill A Mockingbird, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, and The Usual Suspects- all thanks to the in-flight entertainment systems.

You know you fly a lot when you look through a page of 100 movie selections and can’t find a single one that you want to watch because you’ve seen most of them, have no desire to see the others, and about ¼ are foreign films. Whenever a new month comes along, I get extremely excited because I will finally be able to watch a movie that I actually have a desire in seeing and never had the chance to see in theatres. June is known as the month of weddings, so this month the planes have a slew of Rom-Coms about weddings: Bride Wars, Something Borrowed, 27 Dresses, and a new movie called Table 19 are just some of the options. It’s been hard to pace myself, let me tell you.

But alas, as we are now more than halfway through the month, I have watched about every new selection that appeals to me. I’ve watched Collateral Beauty, Before I Fall, Pretty in Pink, It’s Complicated, and La La Land.

What do you do when you have no desire to engage in a mindless activity but have about 2 hours left on the plane? You read.

I absolutely love reading. Yes, for enjoyment. I am so thankful that my mom raised me as a reader. Getting lost in a good book is one of the best feelings ever! Sadly, I don’t get to read for fun as often anymore because I am so busy with school and acting, but whenever I have free time, I’m so in.

I recently read Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed from cover to cover in less than 24 hours. I started the book whilst laying out on the beach, and then I read it non-stop on a 5 am flight from LAX to ATL, finishing the book as soon as I got home. It was glorious.

But if you aren’t a book person, magazines are great too! I love flipping through Vogue or People Style Watch. Just a warning though, magazine prices soar in airports. Last month I bought the June issue of Vogue at JFK for $6.50. Now that’s just robbery.

Another way to pass the time is simply to sleep it all away. However, for most people that’s actually not very simple at all because “sleeping on planes is so hard”. Not for this Fly Girl! (Check out my blog post titled “Let Me Sleep Among The Clouds” for more details)

But if you still don’t know how to pass your time in the sky, talk to the person next to you. Journal your thoughts. Go through old photos on your phone (and maybe even delete some to gain storage space!). Listen to music, maybe even go through your old playlists and gawk at how much your music taste has changed. Make friendship bracelets (that’s what my sister and I used to do when we were little. Imagine a 12 year old and a 7 year old taping threads of string to the tray table and braiding ankle bracelets together- so cute). Make a point to learn something new while you’re sitting there. Heck I learned how to tie my shoe on an airplane when I was in Kindergarten!

Whatever you decide to do, make the most of your time. Because you have a couple hours to let somebody else be the Pilot for a while. You can sit back and do anything you want! Maybe that’s simply getting a couple of hours for yourself to relax and enjoy a movie for once. Or to catch up on your sleep. Or to make a bucket list. Whatever it is, use your time wisely. Because not only are there many people in the world who would kill to have some spare time, but there’s a lot of people who have never even flown on a plane before.

Make the most of your time.

Enjoy the In Flight Entertainment.

-The Fly Girl

 

A New York Day

New York City is the concrete jungle where dreams are made, the greatest city in the world, the city that never sleeps. It’s a city full of dreamers who hustle and make their opportunities happen with hard work and passion.

I love New York. I’ve always felt like I can be my complete, full self in the City. The fashion, the independence, the community; there are countless aspects of the New York City lifestyle that I feel best fit my overall personality and aesthetic.

However, so many times when I travel there I’m on a tight schedule, heading to an audition or to Ripley Grier Studios to work. I love what I do, and I love the community of people I have found, but there haven’t been many days where I get to enjoy the City for all that it has to offer.

But there are rare occasions, and those are the best days. New York City truly is a magical place, and every once in a while the stars align to reveal its true power.

On my most recent escapade in Manhattan, I met up with an old friend from Atlanta, a fellow actor who moved to NYC about two years ago.

Sitting in Union Square Park with a box of Ben’s Cookies (the absolute best cookies you will ever put in your mouth), we swapped stories of our favorite days we’ve had in The City. Jeremy labels such days as “New York Days” and can be described as follows:

You wake up on a normal day, hitting the “Stop” button on your iPhone’s alarm even though you’re so tempted to snooze instead. But you gotta go to work (or dance class, an audition… insert whatever you want here), so you get up and continue with your morning routine.

You have no plans for the day ahead of you after your scheduled obligation, so you figure it will be a relaxing day of rest.

But then, something happens. A friend texts you with free tickets to a concert. You get invited to attend a premiere at the last minute. You turn a street corner and discover your new favorite spot. You run into an old friend and spend the rest of the day with them.

You barely look at your phone the rest of the night. Because you’re truly so happy and enthralled with The City. An ordinary day turns out to be one of the best ones of your life. Because NYC pulled through for you when you least expected it to.

For Jeremy, it was a day when he met a couple of dancers in a coffee shop he worked in. After they all discovered their common interests and mutual friends, the girls revealed they were back-up dancers for a well known electronica band and were performing that night at one of the biggest music festivals in New York City- and they gave Jeremy a free VIP pass.

Earlier that day Jeremy headed into work with no plans ahead of him, little known to him that he would end up heading to a music festival full of his favorite bands wearing an Artist’s Pass entry wristband. Free music, free food, free booze, and celebrity treatment? New York City definitely pulled through.

*

This past Friday, I didn’t have many plans for my day ahead. I was tentatively going to meet with a photographer friend in Brooklyn- we connected over Instagram and were going to meet for the first time in person and just get to know each other, maybe even shoot a little.

The plan had been to meet at 1 pm, a time that wouldn’t allow me to do much with my morning since Brooklyn is an hour away from my apartment and I needed to sleep in late.

But my phone vibrated and Sam changed the time to 5pm. A better time… but what was I to do beforehand?

I went online and noticed that my favorite dance studio, Broadway Dance Center, had a 12pm Street Jazz/Hip-Hop class. I love taking dance classes- it’s the perfect workout and a chance for me to train in my craft. The only problem with this particular class was that it was 11 am when I found out it was scheduled. I needed to pack up a small backpack for the rest of my day, get ready for the class, and be in Midtown within an hour- a task that seemed near to impossible.

But somehow I made it to class on time, even though I missed the first Downtown train at my stop. I hopped on the next and caught the express at 96th Street in perfect time; like it was waiting for me. Smoothing out my trip and shaving off lots of time, I briskly walked to the studio, and breathed heavily to the woman at the front desk while trying to tell her I wanted to sign up for the class. I made it with a minute to spare.

Afterwards I felt incredible, powerful, confident, and overall happy. It was gonna be a good day, I could feel it.

And just on cue, my roommate texted me and invited me to come to the rooftop pool at an incredible apartment building on the cusp of The West Village and Chelsea. She is a nanny for a sweet family in the building, and was to take the kids swimming for a couple hours.

It was a perfect post-workout dip, with spectacular views right on the Hudson River and good company. I was able to spend my spare time eating pizza, swimming in the nicest, private rooftop pool, and getting ready for the photoshoot.

I then headed to Brooklyn for the first time. In all of my travels to the City, I had never ventured there. And boy had I been missing out.

I met up with Sam and we shot for about in hour in front of graffiti walls and vintage cars. We then wandered to a park on the bank of the Hudson, sitting and gawking at the view of Manhattan.

Exploring a new part of New York was magic in it of itself. We walked all over Williamsburg, ate some great food, and watched the sunset as lights twinkled on across the skyline.

And then my brother messaged me exclaiming that there was a surprise DJ set at a club in Brooklyn that night- and the DJ happened to be the front man of our favorite band, Tame Impala.

I had to go. I needed to go. But advanced tickets were sold out and the venue was likely to sell out at the door.

Except they didn’t, or at least not until after I got there, miraculously. I contacted an old family friend and she and I, along with her roommate danced the night away in a club in Brooklyn. It was an incredible show, and one of the best nights of my 20’s so far. We managed to push our way to the front, and there I was, dancing 5 feet away from one of my favorite artists Dj-ing it up in a random Brooklyn club. It was unreal. The energy of the crowd was electric and I truly felt the magic of what its like to be young and single in New York City.

As I hopped into bed at 5am, I couldn’t help but laugh at the crazy day I had ended up experiencing. I never thought my ordinary Friday would turn into a day like it had. I took a dance class, enjoyed a sweet rooftop pool, had a photo shoot, explored Brooklyn with a new friend, and danced the night away to my favorite music with more. New York had pulled through.

A New York Day indeed.

-The Fly Girl

 

Where The Wind Takes Me

One major topic of conversation on this blog has been about flexibility and spontaneous traveling. And yes, my travels are still very much spontaneous and about being flexible.

But if you’re like me, sometimes you like to know what’s coming up ahead. And that’s even an understatement- you always want to know what’s coming up ahead.

I am at a point in my life right now where I don’t have any immediate plans. I don’t know what tomorrow has in store. Or next week. Like I literally don’t have plans. And that freaks me out.

But it seems like every time I make plans something steps in and deters me from going somewhere.

Prime example: I have been paying rent in a New York apartment since April 1st. It is currently the end of May and I have only spent 6 nights total in that apartment.

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to be there. Or that I had previously made many plans that conflicted with being at the apartment. Literally every time I was supposed to be at that apartment, something came up at the last second that took me away from going. An audition, a meeting, etc.

And get this:

It’s getting closer to my last few weeks in my apartment in New York City. I decide to fly up to finally stay an extended period of time; to dive into the City life and take dance classes, meet with friends, and do things I don’t normally have the time for.

I hop on a morning flight to LaGuardia with my bags packed for 2 weeks. From NYC I plan to head to LA for a few days and then hit Florida for Memorial Day Weekend. It was a 3 hour packing job that I meticulously designed for my long trip away from home base.

My parents were to drive to Florida with our dog the morning that I left home. This meant that there would be no cars available for me to use since my personal car is stored in LA and my parents’ cars were on the way to Florida.

But that’s ok, right? Because I had a two-week plan laid out and I wouldn’t need to return home for anything.

I sit in the Exit Row of my 737 plane with a good book, dozing off in between chapters, my head rolling on my neck like a tetherball.

The flight attendant announces over the intercom: “Ladies and gentleman, we are now starting our initial descent into LaGuardia airport. Current local time is 10:15 am, weather coming in at 75 degrees. Welcome to New York”.

A hot summer’s day in The City. I can go meet friends for coffee; people that I never have the chance to see because I always just pop in at such short notice. I could take some dance classes at Broadway Dance Center, go out for dinner afterwards, stop by my favorite cookie shop afterwards… the possibilities are endless.

Upon deplaning, I head to baggage claim and refill my MetroCard, this time making sure I buy an unlimited week-long pass since I will FINALLY be spending at least half of a full week in New York City!

The M60 Bus comes (a cheap way to get into the City: read my post, “It’s Been Waiting For You” for more info!)

I plan on taking it all the way to 125th and Broadway, then transferring from there to the 1 train and taking it Uptown to my apartment.

I settle into the seat that I snagged on the bus- a single seat with lots of room to put my bags at my feet- and pop my headphones in to begin my “Bus Life” soundtrack for the 1 hour ride.

And now is the perfect time to check social media, since the plane didn’t have Wi-Fi. I head to my email first: a habit that has formed from wanting to hear some good news, check for new opportunities, and just try to advance my career. It all happens over email.

I see in bold letters: CMAIL NOTIFCATION.

A “Cmail” is a portal message on a website profile for actors. When you get an agent, you sign up for this service so that your team can submit you for auditions and projects. Once you get an audition, it pops up in the form of an email, otherwise known as a “cmail”.

Which means I had an audition.

I open the email immediately and see that it’s for a taped audition. Which means I must go to a service that I trust and know well in order to get the best result.

I search for the due date, looking to see how much time I’ll have before the audition has to be in to the casting directors. Maybe it will time out perfectly for when I head to LA, and I can tape it there with my trusted coach?

Friday, May 19, 2017.

It was Wednesday, May 17, 2017. I had two days, and I had just hopped on a bus in New York City.

You would think I would have a trusted taping service there for problems such as these, but I don’t. Well, I used to, but the service went out of business. My second resort is to ask a friend to tape me with one of their nice cameras and buy them lunch. But this idea would not suffice for this particular audition because…

It’s a big one. A Guest Star role for a TV show on a major network. And the audition came from my Atlanta agent; getting a role of that size out of Atlanta is hard to come by. So I knew I had to do this right.

I felt a pang in my gut tell me, “Kelly you know what you have to do. You have to go back to Atlanta. Right now.”

And my gut was right, of course.

I was on a moving bus to Manhattan, the heart of New York City, where I was to finally settle in for a couple days and live my fullest City Life… and something dragged me back to Atlanta.

I got off at the next bus stop, walked across the street to the stop going the opposite direction, and hopped on a bus back to the airport. A total of about 20 minutes in New York, and I never even made it to Manhattan. I just brushed the edges of Queens.

I listed on the next flight out of LaGuardia to Atlanta, and made it to the airport in time. Easy right?

Well I got to security and they decided to do a bomb test on my bag, meaning they open it up and dig to the bottom and scrape a plastic tester all around the edges. I was a little miffed because little did they know I had literally JUST come from the airport and I breezed through security in Atlanta. But of course I kept my mouth shut.

But the worst part? The TSA agent ruined my masterpiece, my 3 hours of meticulous packing. When the test cleared through my bag looked like a garbage can that was ransack by a hungry raccoon.

Just a little stumble in the process, no worries.

But then I get to the gate and realize that I have no ride when I get back to Atlanta. My parents are gone. I have no car to access. How am I going to get to my house, then to my audition and back to the airport the next day?!

My best friend. Kaley. She was home from college and agreed to be my Uber ride for the next 48 hours. Shoutout to Kaley for being the savior of the day!

*

I was back in the Peach State by 3 pm, less than 12 hours before I had previously been there. Essentially, I flew to New York to hop on a bus for 20 minutes and come right back to Atlanta. Fun, right?

But it was an adventure. And it all worked out- the audition went incredible well, I had lunch and got to spend time with my best friend, and was back up in New York sleeping at my apartment the next night.

It’s just funny how life works sometimes. You feel like you have an idea of where you want to go and what you want to do and then God comes right back and says, “Nope!” He redirects your path in an instant and takes you on a different adventure, usually a better one.

Because I wouldn’t have this blog post to write if my travel plans had gone my way!

I am a paper airplane, crafted by God and thrown into the world with elegance and ease. Because He knows where I am going. I don’t, but that’s ok. Because I am guided. And I am going

Where the Wind Takes Me.

-The Fly Girl

 

 

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

Most of my air travel is spent over the US, crossing back and forth over the expanse of the country heading to LA or New York. But every so often, I switch it up and head overseas to explore.

This spring, my overseas extravaganza happened to be in Paris, France. And it just so happened that my dad had a layover there. He was to fly a plane from New York to Paris, enjoying a day or so in the city before flying that plane back to the US. The wonderful part? He invited me to come along.

Paris was the first European destination I ever visited. I was 10 years old when my family and I went over Spring Break in April of 2007. A decade later I was back roaming the streets, this time experiencing even more of the culture and eloquence that Paris has to offer.

I used to always tell myself that I only want to travel to places I’ve never been. It seemed pointless to go to a city that I’ve already explored for a couple days. But that’s just it- when I do travel I never stay in one place for more than a week. How is it fair that I assume I experience all one city has to offer in the course of a couple of days? It’s not.

When I was in Paris 10 years ago, my family and I toured the well-known sites. We gawked at Notre Dame, climbed (more like rode an elevator) to the top of the Eiffel Tower, walked through Montmartre, and looked out at the whole city while at Sacre Cour. We drove by the Arc De Triumph and even hit The Louvre to say hello to Mona Lisa. What more is there to do in Paris? Eat crepes, check. Buy a beret, check. Done.

Except these bucket list items are merely a fraction of what that city has to offer. As I came back a decade later, I honestly had no plans for the trip because I did not know what else there was to do. But when I arrived in Paris, I quickly realized I had been totally wrong.

*

Have you ever allowed yourself to get lost in a city? To put away your handheld map, your cellphone, and all sense of direction and just wander? I’m sure you probably haven’t. Cause getting lost has such a negative connotation. We all have a schedule to adhere to. Our days are filled up by the second. And on vacation? Forget about it. There is an itinerary to follow and if not, the whole trip will crumble to ruins. Right?

Wrong. And trust me, I used to think this way. I’m a type A personality born to an Air Force graduate –turned- Pilot father. If you think our family vacations are any sort of “relaxing”, you’re wrong again.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to appreciate walking through a city. Merely walking with no agenda, just gazing at the views and architecture. It’s probably my favorite thing to do- designate one day of the trip to getting lost without a worry in the world.

I’ve done this twice now- once on my second trip to London, and most recently on my second trip to Paris. The key factor? “Second trip” However I wish I had not been so caught up in “getting all of the sites in” the first go round so I could realize that I was missing out on so much more.

When you wander through a city, you never know what you’re going to find. Mind you, you should choose a city that is safe and easily accessible to a walking person. And always be aware! (Ok, I’ll stop acting like your mom now)

My first day in Paris as a 20 year-old, my mom and I picked one spot on the map to subway to and then decided to just walk and not look back from there. Our main destination was a store, and then we figured we’d just follow the quaint streets from there.

And that’s exactly what we did. European cities have tiny side streets that branch out from the main roads, usually paved in cobblestone and strung with twinkling lights. Exploring these cute little treasures is my mom’s favorite pastime, and has become mine as well.

We shopped. We explored the streets. We sat down at a café to enjoy a happy hour beverage (or two…). We bought a mini pizza topped with brie from a little bakery. Peeked into a flower shop. Split a dinner for two and picked up some fresh croissants for the next morning. It was such a lovely day.

Those are the days when you immerse into the culture. I’m not saying that we are now completely cultured French women; by all means I still have a lot more time to spend in Paris before that ever happens. But it’s a start. There were no tourists for miles. No historic sights to see. Just incredible architecture and eloquent storefronts.

Our second day in Paris, my dad joined my mom and I and we explored even more of the city that we had yet to see. We strolled through Luxembourg Gardens, visited Sainte Chappelle and marveled at the stain glass windows, stopped by Notre Dame for a quick photo opp, and took a bike tour all across Paris. We enjoyed fabulous meals and a nighttime boat cruise capped off the day.

*

And I thought I had done it all. That my little 10-year-old self would take in the city for what it’s worth and appreciate that architecture, the history, and the worth. Who was I kidding?

After being back in Paris, I can’t wait to go again. To stop by the opera house that The Phantom of the Opera is based on. To shop for treasures at the weekend flea market in Montmartre. To visit Museum D’orsey and the original Lauderee Macaroon store. The list goes on and on.

But I also want to take another day to walk through the city without a care in the world. To get to know her on a more personal level. I want to return to other cities I’ve previously visited- Barcelona, Amsterdam, Salzburg, Munich, Rome, Brussels- and wander through them as well.

Because last week I discovered that I love Paris in the spring.

And I also discovered that,

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

-The Fly Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In All Kinds of Weather

Severe weather is out of the airline’s control. If you ever have a flight that is delayed or cancelled to due weather, don’t blame the airline. Blame the air traffic controllers or Mother Nature, but trust me when I say that the airline isn’t out to get you. In fact, they have your best interest at heart, even though it seems like they are trying to ruin your day.

Want to guarantee yourself a crazy travel day? Try to travel during severe weather circumstances. Want to add a cherry on top? Try to travel in severe weather as a Non-Rev.

Picture this: airport terminals filling up with passengers as more flights are cancelled. Passengers running from gate to gate trying to jump on an earlier flight because theirs is delayed. Luggage everywhere. People sleeping on the ground. Disheartened spirits.

If you’ve ever attempted to fly in extreme weather, you know that it’s absolute mayhem. If you’ve ever attempted to fly in extreme weather as a Stand-By, you know it’s 99% useless.

But that 1% chance of getting on a plane is still there, flickering it’s little light. So you go for it, because miracles happen, right?

Right, if you know how to play the game.

Thankfully, I do (and so does my mom).

In all of my years of flying, I’ve pretty much flown in all of the weather circumstances you can think of. I’ve been on a small connection flight during a severe thunderstorm- the flight attendant literally announced that she thought they were going to crash on the previous flight due to the lightening (this wasn’t my normal airline, mind you). I’ve been on the last flight able to land in New York during a snowstorm- the plane slid on the runway upon landing and almost hit the fence lining The Hudson River. I’ve flown in extreme wind scenarios, where the turbulence was constant and the plane felt like a rollercoaster- I remember spilling my Coke on the man sitting next to me on the way to Phoenix, Arizona when I was 7. Whoops.

But this past week I checked off another extreme weather flight- I flew from Atlanta to Chicago during a tornado. Not only was it a miracle that the plane left Atlanta, but it was a miracle that I was on it.

*

Let me give you the backstory:

It was already a crazy travel week to begin with for this Fly Girl. Moving across the country, a screening of a movie, and a premiere all in one week.

On Saturday, I had moved out of my house in LA across the country to Atlanta, all of my belongings on the airplane. (Blog post about moving across the country using only carry-ons and checked bags to follow) My mom had flown into LA to help me, and we landed in Atlanta with 5 suitcases and a trunk at 1:30 in the morning on Sunday. On our way home, us tired little pups that we were after working, my mom exclaims “OH MY GOSH” as I was drifting off to sleep in the passenger seat.

“ WE FORGOT YOUR COAT IN THE COAT CLOSET” she yells.

My prized possession. The pink designer coat that I purchased in December using the Christmas money my parents gave me. A coat that is so dear to me, I refuse to pack it because I don’t want it to get messed up. But I also refuse to wear it onboard, for fear of it getting dirty. The solution? Bring it in a hanging bag and ask the flight attendant to hang it in the coat closet.

But then you have to remember to go get the coat.

In my defense, we landed so late and we had been running around like crazy all day… but really it was my fault.

We get off the interstate at the first exit we see and speed back around to the airport. Game plan: go to the lost and found and give them details about the coat: size, color, detailing, color of the hanging bag, name and phone number on the bag…

Except I had no form of identification labeled on the bag. Nothing, nada, zippo. Just a gray bag that says “Club Monaco”. A target for a cleaning crew member to easily be able to snatch up and never look back.

The only thing I had going for me was that we were the last flight of the night- that airplane was done for the day and was to stay at that gate until the new leg the next morning.

I gave all of my information to the lost and found women. Filled out another form online. My mom even found a Facebook group for Atlanta travel and asked if anyone had seen it. We got back a response from a gate agent who worked the gate we flew into it. She said she went down to the plane and the coat closet was empty.

It was hopeless. The cleaning crew had sold my coat on eBay by now.

Sunday afternoon my dad flew in from Florida and decided to stop by Lost and Found to check it out.

And there was my coat in its Gray Club Monaco hanging bag. A miracle.

What does this have to do with tornadoes? Nothing. This event just occurred in the craziest travel week of my life, so I’d thought I’d include it for effect.

OK so moving on- Tuesday rolls around and I am invited to attend a screening of a movie I am in, Rounding Third, in Nashville. It was a plus one invitation, so I invited my mom to come with me. She went back to LA on Monday with my dad to visit my sister, so on Tuesday she would fly straight from LA to Nashville.

Tuesday morning I was packing up for the airport, and the flight loads suddenly worsened. There were thunderstorms in the Atlanta area, so many flights were getting delayed and things were a little bumpy at the airport. I knew I had to be in Nashville by 6pm, and I didn’t want to risk it, so I hopped in the car and drove. Thankfully Nashville is close enough to Georgia that the drive is doable- it took me 4 hours. This was my first road trip ever as the driver (again, thank you flight benefits), and honestly it was a beautiful drive. My mom made it to Nashville as well, we were on time to the screening, and I watched myself on a giant silver screen for the first time. It was such a cool experience.

That night in our hotel room, my mom and I made our plans for the return drive to Atlanta. We wanted to leave on the earlier side because we had some errands to run before leaving on Thursday for Chicago. We were headed to the premiere of another movie I am in, The Case For Christ, but since we had been so busy prior we needed to use Wednesday to shop for jewelry, get our nails done, etc.

As we were falling asleep in Nashville, my mom checked the weather for the next day. “TORNADO WARNING” flashed across her computer screen- EFFECTIVE WEDNESDAY 10A.M.- 3 P.M.

Great. Looks like we needed to leave even earlier.

That next morning we hopped out of bed at 7 a.m. and jumped in the car. We were going to beat this thing. We began the drive back to Atlanta, and my dad calls us saying the tornado warning started earlier and he was currently in the basement taking cover.

We knew we had to get back, but now we had to be extremely careful.

Thankfully for the first 2 hours we were in Tennessee and North GA, where the tornadoes weren’t present. But once we hit the middle of Georgia, the drive became difficult. Pounding rain, flash floods, fog, oh my! My mom, the trooper that she is, drove the whole way. We made it back to our house in one piece, just a little wet.

After four hours of driving in scary circumstances, to say we were tired and hungry was an understatement. We enjoyed a nice lunch with my dad, and soon after my mom brought over her laptop. “Let’s check the loads for tomorrow,” she said, “I just want to know what’s been going on at the airport due to these tornadoes”.

She opened her laptop. Signed into the portal. Looked at all the flights from Atlanta to Chicago for Wednesday to see what had been going on so far. And every flight had been delayed, some cancelled. The Non-Rev lists were never ending; so many passengers were trying to jump onto earlier flights since theirs was delayed.

It didn’t look good. With cancelled flights, that means hundreds of passengers would have to be rebooked for the next day, Thursday, meaning they would take any empty seat that was available for us to take as a non-rev.

Which means it would be impossible for my mom and I to get to Chicago on Thursday for the premiere.

We hadn’t even been home for more than 45 minutes. Our suitcases were still in the foyer, chilling out waiting to be unpacked. And my mom exclaims, “We have to go to the airport ASAP.”

She was right.

I ran upstairs, unpacked, repacked for Chicago, ran a mile, and took a shower all within an hour.

We hopped in the car and sped towards the airport, in hopes of making it on one of the only On Time flights to Chicago that day.

After sprinting through the airport to make it on time, we arrived at the gate to find out that our flight had actually been delayed. This meant that passengers from other delayed flights would now try to hop on ours because it would still leave sooner than their delayed one. And for some reason, our names weren’t listed on the screen? We were not on the Stand-By list. We went up to the gate agent and she assured us that they had us on their list, but the screens were just glitching.

But that made us nervous. Sometimes we rely too much on technology and not enough on other people.

We wanted a Plan B. There was another delayed flight that was going to end up leaving around the same time as ours, and it had a couple seats on it. It was a tight one though- and the gate was in a whole different terminal than ours.

I was sweaty. I was tired. I was worried. I wanted to jump ship and try for the other, more promising flight. But my mom said, let’s just stick around here for 15 more minutes. We are finally boarding.

They began the boarding process. At least 40 paying passengers from other flights came up to our gate and tried to hop on our flight. I gave my mom a knowing look, communicating that we were probably not going to get on. Everyone had boarded and the gate agents looked frantic. The screen showed 10 seats, but our names were still not there and no other names had appeared. They kept announcing to the gatehouse that all Stand-Bys needed to be present at the gate. But they weren’t boarding any of us. It seemed like a trick.

Time was running out and they still had not cleared any revenue or non-revenue standby. But you know the rules by now- paying stand-by passengers would get a seat before any non-revenue passenger. That’s the first rule in the book.

Except suddenly the gate agent calls our names. We run up, and she gives us boarding passes. She has to manually enter us into the system, which we thought was odd. But we were on. And we got on that plane, somehow.

When we got onboard there were still 6 seats empty. We assumed they would clear more people, obviously, since there were empty seats and many people who wanted to occupy them. But 5 minutes later the boarding door closed. Which was weird, because nobody else had come on board after my mom and I.

Our plane took off in the calm of the storm. The ride to Chicago was definitely not calm though- the turbulence was heavy and I almost threw up from motion sickness. But we landed safely, dodging the tornadoes and making it to Chicago a day in advance.

We didn’t even have a place to stay. My mom had made that decision so fast that we didn’t even have time to book a hotel, so right after we deplaned we took a seat in the gatehouse, logged on to the Midway International Airport free Wi-Fi, and booked a hotel through Hotels.com

We also decided to take a look at the Atlanta to Chicago loads, just to see what ended up happening.

And what we found was astounding. We were the only flight that took off to Chicago that day. All other flights that had been delayed eventually cancelled. We also found out that the computer systems began to crash, and that is why no other Stand-By passengers got on our flight. That’s also how two non-revs got on- because the gate agents literally were not able to enter those 40 other paying passengers onto the Stand-By list.

If we had jumped ship to the other flight like I had wanted, we would not have gotten on the plane. If we had waited until Thursday morning to go to Chicago, we also would not have gotten on the plane. I would have missed my first red carpet and my first premiere.

But we made it. It was truly a miracle. Since we had an extra night in Chicago, my mom and I were able to run all of our pre-premiere errands in The Windy City. I arrived to the red carpet with freshly painted nails, new jewelry gifted to me by Kendra Scott, and my hair blown out by Dry Bar. The premiere was everything I had dreamed of and more, and I am so thankful I was able to be there to be apart of it.

*

Sometimes you are meant to be somewhere, and God will get you there no matter what. Sometimes we follow his path but then get scared and want to jump ship at the last minute. But He knows what’s best for us and He will get you where you need to go.

The peace I felt was overwhelming- I knew that God was looking out for me. That He wanted me at that premiere so He orchestrated a miracle for me to get there.

But it also takes teamwork and flexibility. Fast decisions on the fly. I am so thankful that my mom had been intuitive enough to check those flights when we got back from Nashville. She was on top of her game the entire travel experience, and I am so grateful for her.

*

There’s camaraderie within the Non-Revenue world. When I meet other Stand-By passengers, there’s this knowing smile that I always crack at them. Because they get it. We understand what we go through. The crazy stories we have to tell. Like I mentioned earlier, there’s even a Facebook group for Non-Revs, and everyone on that page is so willing to help each other out. It truly is a community. And communities stick together.

In All Kinds of Weather, we all stick together.

-The Fly Girl

 

 

On The Fly

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from Stand-By travel is how to be ready for anything at any moment. Spontaneity has become a part of who I am, which I am so thankful for. I never thought I would have the ability, let alone desire to be spontaneous.

But spontaneity and flexibility are requirements for any Stand-By passenger. If you are a stickler for a regimented schedule, then I’m sorry but Non-Revving is not for you.

I think God brought me into a family with traveling benefits for a reason. He knew my purpose on Earth is to act, a profession that requires spontaneity and flexibility. He also knew that my personality is a Type-A makeup, someone who is not really ok with being flexible or spontaneous. So to help guide me in becoming an easy-going person, God gave me the benefit of flying for free all the time. He knew that I would learn so much from travel that would morph my personality and give me experiences I can treasure forever.

My life has turned into one spontaneous adventure. I’m eager and ready for anything that is thrown my way, which is so freeing. I know that at the end of the day, every event and moment in time is orchestrated into a beautiful symphony, and God is the only one with the Play Bill; only he knows what’s coming up next and what this new song will be titled.

I wish everyone looked at life this way. And I wish everyone looked at travel this way. Because things go awry so frequently and the world would be a much better place if we could all just take a breath and be OK with the way things turn out.

But I understand- sometimes it’s hard to keep your cool when you have a plan set in motion but nothing is working out the way you intended.

Last week, I went to visit my brother in Tampa, Florida. It was my first time really ever spending any time in Tampa, and I was so excited to see him! Our plan was to attend a music festival all weekend long, and I was to arrive in Tampa on Saturday morning just in time for the first day of the festival.

But of course, nothing went as planned.

On Friday night, my mom (AKA my travel agent, best friend, and biggest aid in my travel experiences- seriously, get yourself a mom like mine) checked the flights for me and they looked horrendous. There were negative seats available on all of the flights to Atlanta (which I had intended on connecting through), and she told me my best bet would be to try the first flight in the morning from LAX to ATL, then connect from ATL to Tampa.

This was already a blow, because now I would miss the first half of the first day of the festival. I would now land in Tampa around 4 pm, which would mean I would have to meet my brother at the festival. Thankfully he knew I was flying Stand-By (and obviously he understood because he used to have benefits as well), but I was still upset that my plan had been ruined.

I spent the night at my sister’s house in Hermosa Beach, which is close to the airport. My new plan was to wake up at 4:30 am for a 6:30 am flight to ATL. My alarm went BRRRRINGG! And I woke up with texts from my mom saying, “Maybe you should try for the next flight. The first flight is getting crunched.”

Ok, another hour setback, but at that point there wasn’t anything I could do.

Another text from mom: “Oh, by the way, I actually checked the loads from last night and you would have gotten on the flight after all.”

UGHHHH. Ok so you’re telling me I would have been in Tampa on time, before the festival, like I had originally intended all along?

I wish my mom hadn’t texted me that.

I slept an extra hour, texted her frequently, and then realized I needed to get to the airport ASAP. I called an Uber and I was to arrive at the airport right on time for my now 7:30 am flight to ATL. All was right with the world.

Except nothing was right with the world. Because my Uber driver ran 2 stop signs and was pulled over by the cops, causing me to miss my flight.

That’s when I lost it. I called my sister at 6 am, crying, asking her to come pick me up. The remaining flights to ATL that day were all full and it didn’t make sense to even try. I would now go back to Lauren’s house and sleep, and then try for a 1:30 pm flight to Tampa that arrived at 8:40 pm.

I missed the whole first day of the festival.

I was belligerent and defeated, but I made it to Tampa eventually, as I knew deep down I would.

And that’s the funny thing about traveling, and about life in general: you WILL get to your destination at some point. It may not be when you intend it, but don’t fret because it will happen in its time.

We waste so much of our brain cells trying to plan our life out and rewire God’s plan for us. Think about it from a traveling perspective: delays happen. Flights are cancelled. The overhead bin space runs out. And our responses are always angry and controlling, as if we have the right to determine how things will go in our life.

Ha! How we know so little.

It’s probably a blessing that my Uber driver was pulled over by the cops, because who knows? He could have gotten us into a car accident with his unsafe driving.

And maybe I avoided an undesirable situation at the music festival on the first day. Maybe I was never intended to go for some reason I’ll never know.

But I got there eventually, didn’t I? And I still had the best weekend.

*

What I’m trying to say is, life is better when you have an easy-going, positive perspective. Yes, bad things will happen, and that really can get you down. But don’t let it! Everything truly happens for a reason. Even your Uber driver getting pulled over by the cops.

Isn’t life so much more exciting when you are excited about life? When you have no clue what’s going to happen tomorrow but you are excited to find out? When you have no idea how you’ll get there, but you know you will eventually?

That’s what life is like when you’re spontaneous, flexible, and positive.

That’s what life is like

On The Fly

-The Fly Girl

 

 

 

I Can Be A Local Hire Anywhere

This blog is not about acting. I made that very clear in my first post- I don’t want to talk about acting because I am writing to talk about anything other than acting.

However, my flight benefits do come in handy with my career choice, and I milk it like crazy.

There’s a program I’ve worked/studied with for 5 years in New York City called Broadway Artists Alliance. The program auditions kids from around the world and accepts them for Master Classes and Sumer Intensives with Broadway instructors. At the end of every week-long session, there’s a showcase in front of an industry panel. The students get to go up one at a time, introduce themselves to the panel, and either sing 16 bars of a song or perform a monologue for them.

Whenever I introduce myself to the panel, I use my famous catch phrase: “Hi! I’m Kelly. I’m over 18 and I have flight benefits so I can be a local hire anywhere!” I’ve done this every showcase for the past 5 years and now it has become a running joke at BAA. Last summer, kids began to catch on and would introduce themselves saying, “I’m from Missouri but I am always willing to fly into New York” or, “I live in Dallas but I have family in New York I can stay with”. Staff members started coming up to me laughing, saying “Look what you’ve started!”

But no, kids, having family in New York is not the same. Telling an agent that you are willing to buy a plane ticket any time is not the same. Because the reality is, your parents probably won’t spend $400 every week for you to fly into New York City for an audition. But for me? The cost is not an issue.

I just finished a weekend intensive with BAA, complete with said showcase. I went up and slated with my phrase, receiving laughs from the panel per usual. I sang my song and afterwards a casting director from Telsey + Company asked me how long I was in the City for. I said “Well, as of now until Wednesday. But I can stay as long as I need to. Or fly back in whenever. Like I literally fly in all the time, even at like 6 hours notice…” and I kept rambling on an on, making sure the casting director had no doubt in my ability to fly. Another industry member chimed in and said, “Kelly, we get it. You fly for free”.

I told you I milk it.

Why? Because it truly is a big deal in this industry. So many projects hire local actors only, meaning only actors in the certain city that the show or movie is filming in. It’s cheaper for the production to book a local hire because then they aren’t required to pay to fly an actor in and put them up in a hotel.

This is usually limiting to an actor starting out, because you are limited to building your resume with projects that are filming in the area that you live in. (I’m talking co-star and principal roles).

But for me, it’s thankfully never been an issue. Because of my benefits, I’ve always told my agent I’m willing to work as a local hire. And it’s also given me the opportunity to have agents in all of the major markets, whereas most new actors only have an agent in the city they are based in. Starting when I was 18, I had agents in Atlanta, New York, and LA. I’ve also had the privilege of building my resume working as a local hire in New York, LA, Atlanta, and Nashville.

I would not be where I am today without my benefit of flying. I would not have been able to be a Workstudy at BAA. I would never have made connections in the industry in New York City, leading me to getting my agent. I would not have my manager, because I signed with her through my New York agent (that I would not have if I had told her I didn’t live in the City and couldn’t fly for free), etc.

Flying has changed my life in so many ways, and honestly has become part of my identity. It’s part of how I market myself, it’s a conversation starter when meeting new people, it has helped shape my perspective on life, it has made me independent from a young age, and it’s helped me monumentally in my career.

I’m so fortunate to have this lifestyle, and while I have the benefit, baby I’m gonna milk it.

*

I’m done talking about acting now. For good. The only reason I wrote about it this time is because I am on my way back to LA right now after my most recent showcase with BAA. I actually called my manager today to ask if she could reach out to the industry panel and pitch me for meetings while I’m in town. I told her I was thinking about possibly flying back to LA tonight, so to reach out ASAP to see if anyone wants to bring me in, so I can know if I need to extend my stay in NYC.

As the day went on, I had only received one response from an agent who said they loved me but had a conflict on their roster. The rest of the panel had yet to respond, so I texted my manager and said “I think I’ll just head back to LA.”

She responded, “Do it. You can always fly back to New York tomorrow if you need to.”

And that, my friends, is a true statement.

And yes, I can actually be a local hire anywhere.

-The Fly Girl

 

It’s Not Always The High Life

We’ve all had differing experiences with air travel. Sometimes you are stuck in the back row of the plane next to the bathroom, other times you’re in first class being fed a five course meal. These experiences begin to shape how we view flying- if you fly a super cheap airline, you are likely to have a worse view of flying than if you frequently travel with a well known company. If you always choose a middle seat because of the cheaper cost, you are likely to not enjoy your experience as much as the person in the aisle. The list goes on.

As a Stand-By passenger, some people have this fantasy of my travels where I fly first class everywhere I go and live this life full of luxury. And while some people do have those perks, I do not. I’m sorry to ruin your fantasy.

For example, this week I have been on three different flights- LA to New York, New York to Atlanta, and Atlanta to LA. All three of these flights were completely different from each other as far as experience goes.

From LA to New York, I lived the high life: I flew business class with lie flat seats. This kind of in-air experience comes complete with a comforter, pillow, “Refresh” kit (complete with a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, a sleep mask, socks, lotion, chapstick, and tissues), a four-course meal, and a massage (yes, the chair could also massage you). Calling it a “nice flight” would be an understatement. This is the sort of fantasy people believe I live every time I fly.

Fast forward to my flight from New York to Atlanta: I flew Economy Comfort, a step behind first class but in front of regular coach seating. In this section, the leg room is a little bigger and your snack selections are better. I was assigned a middle seat, which is not what I prefer, but being in this section made up for it. It was a decent flight… until we landed. During our flight, the airline’s entire computer system crashed worldwide. This meant that there were no gates available at the airport because no planes had been allowed to take off. We ended up sitting on the plane on the runway for 3 hours- initial touchdown was 8:04 pm and the boarding door opened to let us off at 11:07 pm. What sounds like a nightmare to most was honestly ok with me- I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be and I was able to finish my homework. I was towards the front of the plane thankfully, but I was in a middle seat which wasn’t ideal. But in that kind of situation, the captain and flight attendants are completely out of control, so why make a fuss over it? There was nothing they could do except update us passengers and communicate with the air traffic controllers.

But yes: a much different experience from the first example.

Jump ahead to my current flying situation as I’m writing this post: I am on my way to LA from Atlanta. I was supposed to wake up and go to the airport for a flight with 50 seats on it, but I decided to sleep in an extra hour and jump on the next flight. Little did I know that this aircraft would be a little smaller than the other one, and there were less seats available. I got on the plane, but am currently sitting in a middle seat. Unfortunately, I am not in Economy Comfort- I am just a few short rows behind it. This means less leg- room, regular snacks, and a mediocre flying experience. But to add to this: On my left is a large man whose body is spilling over into my seat. He is wearing a rain jacket that is draped over onto my chair and won’t move it. He is on the window side, but our row mysteriously has no window. Talk about claustrophobia! To my right sits a man who has been arm wrestling me for the arm rest on my right side- he is in the aisle seat though and has a whole arm-rest to himself, and leg room for days! Can’t he see that this giant man next to me is taking up all of my space? Have some sympathy, man! The icing on the cake: the man in front of me has his seat pushed back. I am literally typing this with my hands attached to my sides, barely any room to be free.

Again- a MUCH different flying experience than the first and even the second.

So, have I unclouded those fantasies you had about me living the glamorous life, as Fergie described?

But at the end of the day, I can’t complain. There’s nothing bad about my life. There’s nothing I would trade about my flight benefits. There are people who are no longer able to get into this safe country, and here I am complaining about being able to fly all around the world for free?

I’m not complaining, I promise. The way I look at it, each experience gives me a new story to tell. I mean, I wouldn’t have this blog if I had the same, awesome, first class experience every single time I flew, right?

It’s not always the high life, but it’s the fly life.

-The Fly Girl

 

 

New Year, New Airline?

Standby travel is just like the future- what may happen is unknown and you will never know until you get there.

So what should you do if you absolutely, positively MUST be at a certain destination by a certain time and your flying odds are looking pretty slim?

You must make a decision. You can:

  1. Test your luck and hope for the best- you never know what could happen in your favor. Someone may not show up, other Non-Revs could leave because of the terrible odds, bumping you up in priority, the aircraft could be switched out to a larger plane with more seats on it, etc.
  2. Buy a “Confirmed for Less” ticket, meaning you will be a confirmed passenger but your ticket is discounted since you have ties with the airline
  3. Find the best deal and buy a ticket on whichever airline that may be.

Honestly, I’m always one for testing my luck. I’m [usually] pretty flexible, and I know that there is a possibility of me not getting on any flight at all with this method. But I also think that many people are scared to take a risk sometimes. I travel frequently and am always looking at the patterns of seat assignments, and I find very often that more seats become available than what is originally shown as available. It’s actually pretty frustrating because you never really know what your odds actually are to get on a plane. I’ve shown up to a flight that showed -6 seats on it, and I was number 12 on the list and still made it on the plane. With negative seats?! Come on.

So picture this: You’re home for Christmas break in Atlanta, GA. It’s Thursday night, and you find out you have an audition in LA on Monday morning. No biggie, usually you would just figure out what flight you needed to get on based on the loads, and get back to LA. You have three days to get there right?

Wrong. Because on Saturday night there’s an event that you’re committed too.

That leaves Sunday as your only day to get back to LA to be in place Monday morning for the audition.

Ok, well there are at least 10 non-stop Atlanta to LAX flights daily, so you should definitely have a good chance of getting on one of those planes on Sunday. If not to LA, then maybe you could even try ATL to San Diego, then San Diego to LA. Or San Francisco? The options are endless.

Well, not exactly. It’s Friday and you are making your travel plans and then HEY! Guess what? A snowstorm is coming to Atlanta that has cancelled two morning flights to LAX on Saturday! That means over 300 passengers will be rebooked on different flights for the following day, Sunday, the same day that you need to have your butt in a seat on the way to LA. WOOHOO!

What’s more? That same day, a shooting occurs at the Ft. Lauderdale/ Hollywood International Airport, causing a big stir and changes for flights as well.

All of these factors combined make for pretty bad odds of being at your audition in LA at 11 am.

So? Your parents decide that they shall purchase a “confirm for less” ticket so that it’s guaranteed that you’ll have as seat. Ok, probably a good idea.

BUT those tickets, even on a discount, have skyrocketed in price because of the cancellations and the last minute timing.

So, your parents decide (without your consent) to find a deal on a different airline and purchase a cheaper ticket from them. They say you’ll pay for half of the ticket because it’s your audition that you have to be back for in LA.

This all sounds pretty reasonable, right?

Honestly, I didn’t fight it. Because I pretty much agreed that the odds did seem slim and this audition is VERY important. I’d rather not miss a huge opportunity just to save a hundred bucks.

The flight is scheduled to leave at 10:55 am on Sunday. I am such an experienced, well-traveled, frequent flyer so this should be a breeze.

However, I’ve only ever really flown on one airline in my life, besides smaller jets to the out-islands of the Bahamas. So when the reality set in of my flight across the country on an unfamiliar airline, I didn’t like what I was feeling.

I don’t trust those other pilots. I know my own airline like the back of my hand. I don’t want to arrive to the airport in a different terminal. WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?

The night before the departure, I make my parents check the standby flight loads on my usual airline. Maybe things have cleared up?

They haven’t. All negative numbers on direct flights, no other connection options looking good.

I will be flying on a new airline.

New Year, New Me, right?

 

*

Sunday January 8th, 2016. 9:35 am. 1 hour and 20 minutes til departure. Gate T12.

Kelly arrives at Hartsfield Jackson, Atlanta International Airport. She has instructed her father to drop her off in the usual terminal. [She knows the airport so well that she knows she can get to her desired gate a different way than suggested].

 After passing through security, she makes her way to her gate. It’s located in a part of the T Concourse that she has never had stepped on before… and she’s not too thrilled about it.

9:55 am. 1 hour til departure. Gate T12

Upon arrival at the gate, Kelly notices that the flight before hers has been delayed… 4 hours. The gate agent comes on over the loudspeaker, explaining that as of now the Charlotte bound flight is “Still waiting for the crew to get here. As of now, the LAX flight has no gate change”

Kelly (V.O.)

No gate change yet? We board in 30 minutes…

(Remembers a horror story of a friend who flew this same airline and their flight was delayed 4 hours…)

Kelly calls parents.

Kelly

Hey mom. So honestly this airline doesn’t really have anything

together. The flight before is delayed and they haven’t

announced a new gate change or anything…

I think that the flight will be delayed for a while. I’m a little sketched out.

Mom

Hmm well that’s too bad I guess cause we paid for this ticket.

You have a seat so just sit back. I’m sure they’ll tell you something soon

Kelly is annoyed. Of course this would happen when she’s not even really comfortable flying this airline to begin with. She gets an idea…

Kelly

What if I check the stand-by flight loads?

Maybe something has changed?

Mom

Kelly, no. Don’t even bother.

Dad gets on the phone, agitated

Dad

Kelly, just go on the flight. It’s already paid for and non-refundable.

Ok? Bye!

10 am. 30 minutes until boarding, 55 minutes til departure.

Kelly unlocks her phone and opens Safari. She enters in the website for the flight loads and checks the loads with only a glimmer of hope.

Then she sees it:

ATL-LAX. 10:55 am. 12 seats unassigned, 9 passengers ahead of you.

She can’t believe it. She has a shot at getting on a normal flight!

Kelly immediately calls hers parents, everyone in disbelief. Her parents tell her to go up to the gate agent and ask about this paid-for flight’s status. In the meantime, Mom lists Kelly as a standby on the other flight. Kelly has to decide- risk it? Or stick with a sure bet, confirmed and already paid-for seat?

*

And like I mentioned above, I always opt for letter A: Test your luck.

I ran to a kiosk on the other side of the concourse, the normal, familiar side. Briskly walking to the Air train, I hopped on board ready to take a ride one concourse over to Gate A 15.

Foot tapping on the car floor. Doors open, lights flashing. But no movement. Tap tap tap some more. Nothing happens.

And I’m off the train, sprinting through the walkway between terminals. I make it to A concourse and head over to the gate.

Now Boarding: Zone 2.

The screen now shows new numbers….

13 seats unassigned. WIL/K listed as….

Number 6.

I’m gonna be on this plane!

*

And I made it. Because testing your luck does work. Not always, but sometimes it does when you least expect it. New Year, Same Airline.

Now, what happened to the other flight?

It was only delayed 10 minutes, which means I could not be refunded. For the first time in my life, I was THAT person whose name was called multiple times for final boarding.

But, I stayed true to my home airline. And when I boarded my flight back to LA, I felt right at home. I even got assigned to an Exit Row seat, which I am currently sitting in and typing this post, legs stretched out in front of me. A happy girl.

And the best part? I gave another Stand-By a seat. For the first time ever, I was able to help another stand-by get to where they need to go. For I was that person they were crossing their fingers wouldn’t show up so that they could hop on board.

What goes around comes around, right?

-The Fly Girl