Love Is In The Air

An Open Letter To The Passionate Fedora-Wearing Couple Sitting Next To Me On An Airplane

{On a recent return flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Atlanta, I experienced the grossest flight of my life. The couple next to me was practically making love without the slightest care in the world that they were in a public place, sitting next to a teenager who looks as if she’s 16. As a Stand-By passenger, I have to be careful what I say to Revenue passengers, because if I say something that stirs another passenger, I could get in trouble.

So, I had to bite my tongue. I could not tell this man and woman to please save their behavior for a private space. I could not tell them that I was there, hearing everything they were saying and doing. I could not tell them they should be embarrassed of themselves and have proper decency in front of a girl. Did I mention this couple was in their 30’s?

So, this is my letter to them; what I would have said if I could. I really hope somehow, someway they see this someday. }

*

Dear Couple-Who-Is-In-Love-And-Wants-The-World-To-Know,

I’m so glad that you are happy together. Truly, I am. Love can be a beautiful thing.

But you know what’s not beautiful? Listening to the sound of you two swapping spit and seeing tongue in my peripheral vision.

We are sitting in a row with three seats. Three, not two. Yes, there is someone sitting directly next to you. Hey, Guy, Remember when you were making your move to rub your greasy hands all over Girl’s leg? Ok, and remember that thing you brushed with your arm a couple times? Yeah? That was my arm. A person. Next to you. Just wanted to clarify.

Even though I may be reading a book, that doesn’t mean I’m in a bubble where I’m   unaware of my surroundings. I am VERY aware of what’s going on here. The whispers, the biting of Girl’s ear, and the sound of kisses all over her face, I mean c’mon.

Thank you for finally breaking it up and deciding to sleep. But let’s remember here, we are not in your hotel room in South Florida anymore. No, we are on an airplane. So maybe don’t sprawl your bodies over the two seats you occupy and spill over into my personal space. Ok?

**1.5 hours later**

I have had to put up with you for an hour and a half, but we made it. We have landed in Atlanta and although you woke up a couple of times to snog some more, I am just glad to be back on land with people getting up to get their bags.

Wait, what did you just say?

Oh. My. Gosh. EWW. Please stop. Please stop discussing your “incredible” intercourse you experienced in your hotel room this morning- in detail. Really? REALLY? Wow, yeah you should be proud that you came in early last night and saved your love making for this morning after sleeping wonderfully together. These are all very important details that I definitely need to hear about your life.

Can you not at least talk softer? I mean seriously do you really not know that you are not alone right now, that there are 160 other passengers on this plane, and a teenager right next to you?

OK, Guy, you really are just a trashy jerk. Trying to convince Girl to endorse your weed smoking habit? So that IS what I smelled from your breath earlier when you reached over to show me a picture of you two.

  1. I did not ask to see this picture
  2. No, I don’t think you’re hot. Why are you asking me?
  3. Girl is right, you are a [insert inappropriate word here]
  4. I would not have laughed that off, Girl
  5. Really? You had to smoke a joint before going on an airplane?

Finally. It’s about to be my turn to deplane. Trust me I am going to RUN down this aisle like my life depends on it. Almost there….

STOP. Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I do not want hear about the dirty things Girl was planning on doing with you last night and I definitely do NOT need to see a demonstration of your finger playing the role of your penis. You are disgusting and if I could make you feel ashamed of yourself right now, I would.

Instead, I’ll just post your story on the Internet. Karma, huh?

P.S. Fedoras are not in right now.

-The Fly Girl

[All events are not over-dramatized for the purpose of writing. No hyperbole here, folks. And just to be clear, as soon as I got home I took a shower because I felt so gross having shared that space for almost two hours with this grotesque couple.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Been Waiting For You

One of the wonderful attributions New York has to offer is its’ ease in transportation. There are a plethora of options to choose from to get in and out of The City, mostly taken advantage of by the locals. If you’re a tourist landing in La Guardia for the first time, you are most likely to either A. Take a Yellow Taxi or B. Uber (thank you, technology). Both modes are fast[ish] and [somewhat] efficient, yet they both cost a significant amount of money, depending on your destination, and who wants to begin a vacation by throwing away all of their money at the airport? Not I.

Alas, on my first trips to New York, with and without adult supervision, Taxi or Uber were the go-to guys. I am in no way saying that you are a “tourist” for using these services, nor bashing the use of them. In fact, I still use Uber every now and then to get to the back to the airport from Manhattan, if I’m in a hurry. However, I would love to enlighten you, the reader, on some cheaper alternatives to get to and from the major NYC airports. Because who doesn’t love to save money?

These alternative forms of transportation are the ones that I have experience using. There may be more options out there that I do not know of- I am not the know-all of NYC transportation! However, I do know some tricks, and I hope you find these useful in your next trip to The City.

 

La Guardia Airport

Uber and Taxi fares from La Guardia to Midtown, Manhattan usually range from $28-$50. While these two services are efficient, here are some trustworthy options to get you into Midtown on a dime.

  1. The MTA Bus System

After I had gone to NYC by myself a couple of times, my parents quickly realized that a lot of my money had been eaten up by cab and Uber fares. After doing some research, my mom told me about the MTA bus system. Think of it as an above ground subway, because that is basically what it is. There are about four different buses that run to La Guardia and take you on different routes, usually to central subway stations in Queens. If you hop on any of these buses, you can get to NYC in about an hour for under $3- the bus fare is bought with a MetroCard, and once you exit the bus and enter the subway station, you automatically get one free transfer on your card. This means that you do not have to pay another $2.75 to get on a train to The City; just a one time payment. That’s right!

Here are the different bus options that I have taken before:

A. The M60 Select Bus

Tickets: For this bus you must purchase your ticket beforehand at a machine right next to the bus stop, using your MetroCard. You MUST actually purchase a ticket- sometimes when the bus stops at locations, MTA Police will hop on and check every passenger to make sure they have purchased a ticket. If not, they owe a $350 fine. This bus was supposed to help you get into Manhattan for cheap, not for $350!

Subway Stations:

  1. On this bus you can get to the Astoria Boulevard subway station with N and Q trains into Manhattan. The stop to get off of is usually about 30 minutes after you’ve hopped on the bus. Landmarks you must pass: the Queens Cemetery, a hookah bar called Hookah. (Or at least these are the landmarks I look out for…)
  2. If you are staying on the East Side of town, I would suggest riding the bus until you get into Manhattan on 125th street, and hopping off at the 125th and Lexington subway station. Here you can take the 4,5, or 6 train up and down the east side.
  3. If you are staying on the West Side of town, you can ride the M60 bus all the way to 125th and Broadway, the terminating stop, and hop on the 1 train that runs up and downtown.

Summary: The M60 Select Bus offers a longer bus ride than subway ride, yet is about the same length in total as the other bus routes from La Guardia. Bus runs every 15 minutes.

Total Cost: $2.75

B. The Q70 Bus

Tickets: No ticket purchase necessary, just a swipe of the MetroCard as you board the bus. (This means your MetroCard must have at least one full fare amount on it!) Once you swipe the card, you will have one free transfer to use for the subway; again a one time payment!

Subway Stations:

  1. Roosevelt Station has plethora of train options to get into The City. You could take the E or 7 train, depending on where in Manhattan you would like to go. Roosevelt Station is the first stop on this bus route after leaving the airport.

Summary: Taking the Q70 Bus means a shorter bus ride but a longer subway ride. It is a smaller bus than the M60, yet not as many people take it, so it may be a better option! Runs every 15 minutes.

Total Cost: $2.75

C. The Q72 Bus

Tickets: Same as above

Subway Stations: I have yet to take this bus, but I do know that it will take you to a subway station where a 7 train is located.

Summary: Even shorter bus ride than the Q70 and M60, however the longest subway ride of all. Bus runs every 15 minutes.

Total Cost: $2.75

 Overall Travel Time for Each Bus: About an hour, sometimes 45 minutes and sometimes an hour and 15 minutes, depending on the day.

* One tip I learned recently is that you should hop on the first bus that you see, since they all take you to a subway station*

  1. Airport Express Bus

I have only taken this bus once, and honestly I regretted it, however it is cheaper than a cab or Uber!

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased right outside the exit doors of baggage claim- look for an employee wearing an Airport Express Jacket. It costs $13 a person.

Travel Time: Depending on where you get off, this bus can take up to 2 hours to get to your destination in Manhattan. The first stop is Grand Central Station, which comes about 45 minutes into the ride. I would suggest getting off here and transferring to the subway to get to your final destination. Otherwise, if you want to go all the way to Midtown at Port Authority, you will be on that bus for 2 hours.

Summary: In my opinion, this option is good if you are traveling alone but are too scared to try the MTA bus/subway system. However, if you are traveling with someone else, each ticket is $13, and you could have just split a cab with the other person for the same price and faster arrival.

Total Cost: Traveling Alone- $13, Two People- $26, etc.

 

 

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

 

An Uber and Taxi from JFK into Midtown, Manhattan will cost you a flat rate of $60, usually rounding to $72 with tax. Don’t worry! There are other options:

  1. The AirTrain/ MTA Subway

The AirTrain is a train that runs to the different terminals in the JFK airport, similar to the Plane Train at the Atlanta airport.

Tickets: You do not have to have a ticket to get on the Air Train, however when you get off at the subway station, Jamaica Station, you must go to the machines and buy a MetroCard at an MTA machine, before you can enter the subway station.

Subway Station: Jamaica Station is the subway station you must get off at; it is the last stop on the Air Train. At Jamaica Station, you will get on the E train and ride it all the way into Manhattan.

Travel Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes (including Airtrain time)

Total Cost: $7.75- $5 for the Airtrain fare and an additional $2.75 on top for the transfer to the subway.

Summary: Taking the Airtrain/Subway is much cheaper than taking an Uber, however can be a little time consuming. If you have the time to spare, I say go for it!

2. The Airtrain/ Long Island RailRoad (LIRR)

Another option once you reach Jamaica Station by Airtrain is to take the LIRR train into Penn Station.

Tickets: Same as above, although instead of heading to the MTA machines after exiting the Airtrain, you must find the LIRR machine. There is only one, and it will be to the right when you walk into the station.

Train Station: The LIRR trains are at the same station as the subway, Jamaica Station. Just follow the signs that say LIRR, look for Penn Station on the schedule, and head to the track where that train will be. Choosing Penn Station as your destination is the best option for getting into Midtown, for Penn is on 34th St. and 7th Ave.

Travel Time: 45 minutes (including Airtrain time)

Total Cost: $13

Summary: While this route is double the cost of the Subway option, it is half the time, and still 4x cheaper than taking an Uber or Taxi. This is the most cost and time efficient mode of transportation to Manhattan.

 

Newark International Airport

Sometimes if flights are crunched to New York, I will end up on a plane to Newark, New Jersey! An Uber or cab from here to The City is about $75- WAY too much for me! Thankfully, there is another mode of transportation that is fast and thrifty!

  1. Airtrain/ New Jersey Transit

The New Jersey Transit is another train system that runs like the LIRR, yet is mainly based out of New Jersey. There is a station directly linked to Newark Airport!

Tickets: Once you deplane in Newark, you follow the signs to baggage claim and then look for New Jersey Transit. Once you get in that designated area, there are two machines from which you can purchase a ticket to Penn Station, and once purchased you are good to go on the Airtrain and the Transit!

Train Station: After the Airtrain takes you through all of the airport terminals, the last stop is Newark Station where you will get off to head to the Transit.

Travel Time: 40 minutes

Total Cost: $15

Summary: Taking the New Jersey Transit to Penn Station is a quick and cheap alternative to a pricy and lengthy Uber ride. The signs are more difficult to read, so be careful when using this mode of transportation- stay aware and follow directions clearly!

 

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All of the above options of travel were foreign to me until I experimented and had the courage to try them. At times it was nerve wracking to try new modes of transportation alone and under a time crunch, however it was exhilarating as well. Life is dull if we never have the courage to try something new- and once you do, you may end up discovering something that you wish you had tried a long time ago. My first time using each of these routes, I had to stay aware and pay attention to the people around me- sometimes asking for help or clarity, but mostly trying to use my natural instincts and sense of direction. There is no shame in asking for help, but there is also no harm in deciphering it out on your own. Sometimes, you may know more than you think.

Last April my best friend and I went up to The City for one day to attend the Opening Night of the Broadway show “Gigi”. Because neither of us had auditions or appointments that we had to be at, we decided to take the M60 bus from La Guardia into the City. I had become familiar with this route, however I had never taken the bus past the Astoria Boulevard stop. When we hopped on the bus, we decided to try a new route together- we would ride the bus all the way into Manhattan and get off at the last stop, 125th and Broadway, because it was the closest stop to our lodging for the night.

We were a little nervous to go on an unfamiliar path, but thankfully we were together and excited for the adventure! And what an adventure it was…

Once the bus made it into The City, the driver stated that the first stop in Manhattan, 125th and Lexington, would be the terminating stop on this route for today.

WHAT?

We were dealt a card that we had no intention of playing with.

You may think that this is not a big deal, but we were two teens, 17 and 18 at the time, and if you know anything about Lexington and 125th, it is a VERY sketchy neighborhood. If you look to your right, you will see a drug deal happening, to the left there are homeless men blabbering and walking like zombies on the streets, taking over the entire block. I’ve been around homeless people before in Times Square, but this was a whole new level. Toto, we aren’t in Kansas anymore.

The only thing to do was get off the bus. We hopped off and noticed the subway entrance right away, so we walked side by side and did not say a word or looked up until we entered the underground station. As mentioned above, the 125th and Lexington station has 4, 5, and 6 trains, running on the East Side. We had always stuck to our home base on the West Side, and did not know these subways at all.

At first, our hearts were pounding about as loud as a street performer drumming in the middle of a crowded New York City. The good thing was that we were together, and after we entered the subway we decided to make this situation a game and a test- How Well Can We Navigate The City Without Using The Internet or Maps For Help?

We huddled together and used every bit of knowledge about the subway as we could. Kaley told me that one time she had taken the green line to Grand Central Station and then transferred to a 7 train from there to get into Midtown. So, we decided to hop on the first 4,5 or 6 train that arrived and go from there.

Once we got to Grand Central, we had to walk around the entire station before we found the 7 train. I remember standing on that platform for 5 minutes, waiting for the Manhattan bound train and feeling proud that I had followed my gut and natural instincts to get us there.

We arrived in Times Square and squealed with pride at the fact that we used no technology or even ancient paper maps to arrive at our destination. Then we did what any teens would do- we both called our moms and told them the whole story. They were shocked, relieved, and also a little frustrated that we had not told them earlier that we were potentially in trouble in East Harlem NYC. We explained that we wanted to do this on our own, to prove that we are smart and mature young women.

That night if you had scrolled through your Instagram feed, you would have seen a picture of Kaley and me with the caption “Miss Independents”. That was the first time we truly realized that we could actually live in the concrete jungle and fit in, and it was an overwhelming, incredible feeling.

Although the easy way out is, well, easier sometimes, see what happens when you take a risk or dare to adventure. Welcome new opportunities. Welcome your intuition. Welcome to New York;

It’s been waiting for you.

-The Fly Girl

 

Miss Independent

I was 11 years old when I went on my first flight alone. Because I was under the age of 15, I was considered an Unaccompanied Minor and was looked after by the flight attendants. Where was this 5th grader headed? Probably to her grandparents’ house, or somewhere that she has flown to a couple of times. Summer Camp?

Nope. I went to Texas for the first time; Austin, Texas, to be exact. I had never been there before, let alone by myself. My best friend in elementary school had just moved there with her family, and they invited me to come visit, so I did! They picked me up from the airport and everything was fine. I had a wonderful time, and a week later my friend’s mom dropped me back off at the airport, solo again.

I remember being a little nervous when leaving Atlanta on the plane, but I had a whole row of seats to myself so I lifted the armrests and sprawled out, taking a nap. (This was back when I was short enough to do that, mind you). Departing from Austin a week later, there was not one butterfly in my stomach. I was excited to get home and see my family! I strutted down the aisle and found my seat like a pro.

This time I was next to a wiry girl wearing cargo pants and sporting a butterfly tattoo on her wrist. I politely said hi, digging through my backpack for my Nintendo DS. Next thing I new, she began word vomiting her personal life issues to me, an 11 year old girl, and as the underdog sitting next to someone with authority, I sat up and listened. For the next 2 hours, she warned me of adulthood and how I need to cherish my youth and have fun. “Right now you have no responsibilities and I am so jealous of you. You don’t know how good you have it. God, being an adult sucks”.

I dealt with a lot of anxiety when I was young, so once this woman put an idea into my head that the future was dim my mind began spinning faster than Alice’s Tea Cups at Disney. I practically ran off the plane into my mother’s arms, crying because this woman had honestly scared the crap out of me. I told her everything the woman had foreboded me of, and after comforting me for a while, she said, “Kelly, how old was she? Did she say?”

“23”.

TWENTY-THREE.

When I look back now, all I can do is laugh. How crazy is it that I was listening to some 23 year-old punk vent about the hardships of adulthood, when she was barely an adult herself!? I mean, to an 11 year-old she seemed so old. But now I realize she was probably going through some hard time where her parents decided to cut her off and she was pissed at the world and decided to vent to the first person that would listen to her. I just happened to be the victim, an elementary schooler about to embark on her first year of middle school. After that conversation, I was completely freaked out to grow up, let alone begin middle school.

*

I’ve always been timid of growing up since then. Okay, I can’t blame it all on that one experience in flight, but that conversation really had a big impact on me; I will never forget it. But as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to stay a kid and be in the comfort of my childhood home. I always felt a strong connection to the movie Peter Pan, for Peter and I have the same basic principles of life. I think we would have been friends, and I definitely would have taken his offer to go to Neverland.

Fortunately, I grew up having an incredible relationship with my parents, and home truly was an amazing place to be.

The irony? I have always been a very independent person. The story above is just one example: flying alone at 11 years old? I never realized how unusual this was until I took one of my best friends on a trip with me to Florida in high school, and she was really scared of flying without her mom. She was 16.

Despite my desire to stay forever young, I grew up pretty fast, at least in the realm of travel. [Refer back to “Friends In Flight” where I gushed about being in New York City without adult supervision for a week with my two best friends. We were 15 and 16.]

I was 17 when I went to New York City alone for the first time. It was spring of my junior year in high school, and while most kids were showing their independence by driving into Atlanta on the highway for the first time, I flew to NYC by myself. I landed in La Guardia wide-eyed and bushy tailed, excited for to explore the streets of Manhattan alone. No longer would I have to wait for my mom to catch up with me, or stop at the edge of the sidewalk when the red hand signal was showing. I was free to walk as fast as I wanted and breeze past the tourists at the crosswalk, crossing when the “Walk” signal was not showing. It was the first time I ever felt like a true New Yorker.

I navigated my way to Times Square and sat on the TKTS steps, feeling pretty good about myself when I saw teenage girls walking with their moms and dads and looking completely lost. I know, this sounds prideful. But honestly, that’s how I felt: Independent.

That trip, I met one of my good friends Lauren for the first time. We had connected over Instagram (Yeah I know, how millennial of us), and decided to meet in the City face to face and see a Broadway show together! Lauren was from New Jersey, so she and her mom took the train into NYC that day to meet with me.

Let’s recap: 17 year old Kelly flew to NYC by herself for the first time, avoided sketchy gypsy cab drivers at the airport and took a Yellow Taxi into Midtown, and met up with a complete stranger that she met over the internet?

Yep! Completely normal, right?

When I met Lauren and her mom, we clicked immediately. They were so nice and sweet, and we even got to see one of our mutual friends, Emerson, make her Broadway debut in Violet at the American Airlines Theatre. It was such a blast!

When we sat down for pizza before the show, Lauren’s mom asked about my experience flying alone. I related that I had done it before, but never to New York. I had been to NYC with my mom and friends a couple of times, but this was my first time alone. Her mouth dropped for a second, and shaking her head she exclaimed, “Well, I know a lot of people over 18 would never be able to navigate this city alone for the first time, let alone 17. I give you major props for that!”

That night, I took the subway to my Uncle’s apartment in Harlem after he had texted me specific instructions on which train to take, which direction, and rules of proper subway etiquette. I sat in his living room boasting to him about how I took the subway alone and it was “so easy and fun!” I was bubbling over with excitement and joy, purely enlightened by my first day in the City. He kept laughing at how amazed I was: Baby’s First Solo Subway Ride.

My uncle taught me everything I know about the subway. He pulled up the map on his computer and even gave me a newspaper to read on the train. After our lesson, he presented me with a certificate that read “MTA Green Belt”, and ever since then we have this running joke of MTA Karate. Whenever I stay with him, he will ask about my latest subway endeavors, and if the stories seem challenging enough to him he will move me up a belt. Challenges include switching trains, picking out the best car to get on for the nearest exit I need, near misses, and… wait for it… the MTA bus system.

I’ve come a long way since then: Currently, I am at a Brown belt. Take that, NYC.

In my next post, I will explain all of the exciting, cheap, and easy ways I use to navigate Manhattan. I have learned by trial and error, and now I can honestly say that I am a subway pro. I will provide my travel secrets for getting into NYC for under $3 from La Guardia airport, and my other modes of transportation when coming from Newark and JFK airport.

I truly am thankful that my parents trusted me enough to let me go to one of the biggest cities in the world by myself at such a young age. That day my junior year that I landed in NYC, something changed. I began to grow up for the first time. And while I was nervous at first, I flourished and thrived in the concrete jungle. Being an adult didn’t seem so scary anymore; it was thrilling.

Walking down the halls of my high school that Monday seemed so trivial and unexciting. I was anxious to go back to the freedom of Manhattan again. I thought to myself,

“Get ready world, here comes Miss Independent”

The Fly Girl

Adventures on Airplanes to Abaco

[ Warning: The some of the contents of this blog post are a little graphic. If you get queasy easily, maybe skip this post]

My family’s favorite travel destination is Abaco, Bahamas. Abaco is a chain of out-islands far away from the touristy crowds in Nassau and out of reach to cruise ships. For a week, my family will go boating, snorkeling, fishing, and beach hopping all across the island chain, hitting our favorite spots at Elbow Cay (pronounced “key”), Tiloo Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Manjack Cay, Guana Cay, and others. These islands are made up of 4th and 5th generation Loyalists from the Revolutionary War, their family names prominent on boat businesses, ferry companies, and grocery stores. I just experienced my 11th trip to this hidden paradise, so I thought I would reminisce on travel stories from the past!

Because Abaco is small and unadvertised, many commercial airlines do not fly there. The smaller airlines that do only fly out of Florida, so our trips begin there. Once in Florida, we connect on a no-name airline as paying passengers. While these trips may seem boring from the lack of Non-Rev stress, some of my best stories come from these 6-60 seater aircrafts. Stay tuned if you are interested!

Yes. You read the above statement correctly. The airplanes that fly to Abaco range from only 6 seats to about 60 at the maximum. Talk about a tiny plane! One of my earliest trips to Abaco was on a 6 seater, and I vividly remember walking up to the plane and sitting down facing the back of the plane with my mom sitting directly across from me facing the proper way. That was a fun flight!

Back in the olden days (early 2000s), Abaco’s airport on the island of Marsh Harbor was the size of a studio apartment in New York City. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but it was a little house looking structure, with one room where you walk in to find the gate agent. They had three gate agent stands, but no designated gates for any flights, no air conditioning, and one snack bar with flies zipping all around. If you arrived to the airport early, you had to wait outside on the benches, for that was the only seating area available. This may not sound bad at all, however the Bahamas gets pretty hot and muggy, and when you have food poisoning, it feels like you’re in hell.

When I was 13, I got food poisoning the morning we left Abaco. Food poisoning in it of itself is awful, but add a 30 minute ferry ride, a 15 minute cab ride on unpaved roads, and a 4 hour delay at a tiny airport with no AC, and you have a slumped over 13 year-old Kelly with a bag of melted ice held to her forehead. The worst part was, I never threw up until we landed back in Florida. At that point it had been 9 hours of a nausea and pain and I couldn’t take it anymore- I upchucked all over my seat as I stood up to leave. I felt immediately better! However I felt bad for the cleaning crew that day…

*

One of the most popular airlines to fly on to Abaco is Bahamas Air. It’s notorious for late departures and top-notch straight outta flight school pilots. Sounds great right? One year, our flight was delayed 2 hours because of a patch of thunderstorms settling over Florida. After the storms cleared up a little bit, we were cleared to depart from Marsh Harbor, so we were all thrilled. We got on the little 45 seater and took off to 10,000 feet. Everything was all fine and dandy until the flight attendant’s voice came over the loud speaker and boasts, “Well folks, you are so lucky they cleared us to fly! On our last flight, we almost died. Literally. Our plane got struck by lightning I think. It was CRAZYYY”. All of a sudden everyone’s pretzels fell out of their mouths and hands clung to the armrests of their seats. The rest of that 45 minute flight was full of so much tension that you could hear a pin drop, even with the loud hum of the engines. Can you imagine sitting on an airplane with no way out and the flight attendant telling you that the last time this plane was in the air it almost crashed? How comforting is that!?

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A couple times my parents decided to fly into Nassau and connect from there to the out islands of the Bahamas. These connections sometimes meant staying a night at Atlantis, which my siblings and I loved as kids.

Atlantis is one of those places where one night is enough- all you can do there can be done in one day. We don’t even really consider it “the Bahamas” because the island is flooded with tourists and cruises. The Abaco Islands form a little oval with each other, one side made up of the main island, Marsh Harbor, and the other side is a chain of smaller islands (like I mentioned before). On the outside is the open ocean, but on the inside is The Sea of Abaco, where most of our boating adventures take us. The Sea of Abaco is too shallow for cruises to go through, so none of the islands have been contaminated with that many tourists. Woohoo!

One time on the way home from Abaco, we had to connect through Nassau. Because it’s a bigger airport and a more popular destination, there are more opportunities to people watch. At this time, back in 2008, my family and I were obsessed with Adult Alternative artist India Arie and her song “video”. When we connected through Nassau back to Atlanta, she and her band happened to be on our flight, sitting in the row across from me! When we deplaned I stood up with my mom and told her how much I loved her music. Her guitarist was with her as well, and gave me one of his lucky guitar picks with his name engraved on it. This was definitely a moment I will never forget.

 

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My parents always enforced a strict sunscreen policy on our trips. Because we stayed for 7-10 days at a time and spent all day everyday in the sun, we had to re-apply constantly. I started going to Abaco when I was 6, so imagine the stress my parents endured of maintaining our sunscreen supply. One of the best inventions was the Rashguard, a sun-shirt that you can wear underwater and dries quickly, but also acts as a protectant from the sun (and sunscreen).

About halfway through our 2nd trip to the Bahamas, my sister (who was about 13 at the time), was on the beach with her friend all day. My mom had come outside and asked Lauren if she had sunscreen on and replied, “No!”. Two minutes later my mom came out, handing Lauren her Rashguard and walked back in the house to hang out with the other adults.

5 HOURS LATER

EXT. GREEN TURTLE CAY, GILLIAM BAY BEACH

MOM

Lauren, do you have sunscreen on?

I see you aren’t wearing your Rashguard.

LAUREN

No!

INT. VACATION HOUSE, BEDTIME

CU on Lauren as she lays in bed crying because her back hurts so much. We see that her skin is as red as a tomato and has now bubbled over.

 

LAUREN

It hurts, Mom! I can’t sleep!!

Mom walks to shower and proceeds to soak three towels, then lays them on Lauren’s bed for her to sleep on.

 

What does this story have to do with airplanes? Well you know how when you get sunburned, a couple days later your skin starts to peel? Well imagine getting the worst sunburn of your life, so bad that you have bubbles all over your skin, and then about three days later your entire body begins to peel. The timing is perfectly aligned with your flight home away from paradise. And you are sitting next to your little sister, (me), and once we stand up to leave the plane, she sees your skin all over the seat and yells, “EWWWW LAUREN YOUR DEAD SKIN IS ALL OVER THE SEAT”, loud enough for all to hear.

This was yet another time I felt bad for the cleaning crew.

 

*

Lessons learned from all of these flights? Just because you are traveling to paradise, does not mean your travel time will be paradise as well.

En route to my 11th trip to Abaco, I got to sit next to my boyfriend. Thankfully, nothing crazy happened on this flight. This trip was the exception to my statement above: sometimes, traveling to paradise can be paradise, especially when you get to experience the islands all over again through fresh eyes.

We won’t be back in Abaco for a couple of years, but I will never forget that view from 10,000 feet in the sky looking down on turquoise waters and lush green islands.

It’s Better in the Bahamas,

The Fly Girl

 

Let Me Sleep Among The Clouds

Preface: I have always been a semi-weird sleeper. On the weirdness scale, I’m at about a 4- not to the degree of a total freak who sleepwalks out of the house at 3 am, however apparently I do have some strange sleeping habits. When I was younger, my mom and I used to have a “slumber party” in her room while my dad was away for a few days flying. I remember one time when I was 8, my mom told me that I had talked in my sleep in the middle of the night, saying, “Pringles. Pringlesssss.” Either this is a case of child obesity, or just a little girl who loves chips and also happens to be a sleep talker. Or both? In 5th grade, I had a sleepover at my friend’s house and slapped her in my sleep. I have no recollection of this event. (Or do I…?) ((No. I don’t. ))

Sleeping on an airplane is an interesting concept. Unless you are in business class on a 5+ hour flight with lie-flat seats (refer back to my “London Calling” post if you’re curious), then you are doomed to a 90 degree seat that MAY be able to angle at 96 degrees upon takeoff if you’re lucky.

For decades people have tried all sorts of remedies for airplane insomnia. Neck pillows, traveling with giant blankets, ear plugs, fuzzy socks, noise canceling headphones, etc. Personally, I have no trouble sleeping in the sky because I am forced into the situation so often.

“What’s the secret? What brand of neck pillow do you recommend?” I have never tried a neck pillow, so I am not apt to answer that question.

Honestly, it just depends on the circumstance. If you’re in a window seat, using the window as a makeshift pillow can work. In this situation, you are gifted with a little more leg room on the window side, so you don’t have to worry about your legs hitting the person next to you. Using the side of a plane as a pillow pet is not ideal, however you can’t complain because you have it much better than the aisle guy.

Aisle seats aren’t for sleeping. Let’s face it. When you sit in the aisle, you have the responsibility of getting up to let other passengers out of the row if they need to use the restroom. Plus, in the aisle seat you are overexposed to the prowling flight attendants. One moment you’re off in dreamland and the next you awake with the pang of nerve damage inflicted on you by the drink cart that just hit your foot as it passed by. I mean if you like interrupted sleeping time, then this spot is for YOU!

Middle seats are a gamble. If you happen to be sitting next to someone you know, I say go for it. However, if you’re like me and primarily travel alone, use at your own risk. You can’t let your legs run free, for fear of touching the stranger next to you. And again if you’re me, your head could end up on an unfamiliar shoulder.

Yep. When I sleep sitting up, which I frequently do, my head becomes deadweight and swings back and forth like a tetherball. If I’m lucky, it will land in the realms of my seat space, but more times than I would like to admit I have woken up to find my head either:

a. on a stranger’s shoulder

b. invading the personal space of the passenger next to me

or                    c. halfway into the aisle (if I’m in the aisle seat)

 

I’ll even go as far as saying that last year, when I was flying constantly I remember waking up to find my head on the shoulder of the man next to me (who was wide awake) with a little spot of drool on my chin. I had no clue how long my head had been in the way, because, well, I’m asleep!! How embarrassing.

And sometimes it’s not just my head that causes problems. My arms and legs tend to have a mind of their own. Last week on my way to Atlanta I fell asleep and woke up realizing that my fist was resting on the edge of the seat of the woman next to me. I quickly folded my arms across my chest and shut my eyes before I could catch the woman’s glance.

But despite my weird habits, I can sleep on a plane, so hah!

Here’s the real key to sleeping soundly on a plane. Are you ready?

Ok.

If you’re aircraft has personal TV’s on the seats, hit the “listen” or music button. Go to On Air (the radio) and hit the channel called Sleep Soundly (or channel 5). Plug your headphones in, turn the volume down low, and I promise you, you will be knocked out within 5 minutes. The soothing sounds of the rainforest and symphonies are the perfect way to relax and forget that you are on a plane with at least 150 other people who are just as uncomfortable as you.

I cannot take credit for the above secret. If this advice works for you, thank my mom. She is the one who gifted me with this knowledge a couple months ago. Thanks, mom, for not only helping me, but also helping all of the other people reading this blog.

 

 An Open Letter To and From The Dream Crushers

I think the only thing more uncomfortable than sleeping on a plane is waking someone up to go to the restroom. An airplane is a melting pot of personalities. Sometimes you win the lotto and sit next to nice, friendly people and other times you never speak a word to the person you will sit in close proximity to for the next couple of hours. And if your case is the latter, it makes it even that much more unbearable to wake up the person next to you.

Currently on my way to LA, I am in a window seat and the woman next to me is in the aisle. She is armed with a personal blanket from home AND a neck pillow. You go, girl.

However, she and I have barely spoken. Right when we took off, she pulled out her sleeping weapons, tossing and turning frequently. The signs of an unsuccessful sleep. When the drink cart came around for the first time, we both unlatched our tray tables to get snacks. The flight attendant handed us pretzels and cookies and immediately she put hers on my tray, saying nothing. Was she playing Alpha, thinking she can use my tray table too? Or was she being nice? I couldn’t decide because she’s in her 30’s. I awkwardly glanced over and inquire, “Do you not want these?” She responded with one word, “No.”

After she drank her water she attempted sleep again, this time more successful than the last. Maybe neck pillows do work?

By about halfway through this flight, I needed to use the restroom. This woman had the aisle seat, so it’s her responsibility to let me out if I have to go right? We all know this.

I tried to make it as painless as possible. I even tried to hold it until she stirred, so I could then wake her up when she was only half asleep. But I drank a lot of water: my full glass that the flight attendant handed me, and half of my Nestle 24 oz. water bottle. I couldn’t take it anymore.

I lightly tapped her shoulder. She awoke wide-eyed, looking straight at the ceiling, as if Doctor Frankenstein’s monster was just brought back to life. Her head slowly turned toward me and I squeaked out “Hi. Sorry, I need to use the restroom.”

I expected a groan of some sort and about 30 seconds of fumbling with her things before letting me out.

Nope.

Instead, she closed her tray table and looked at me. She expected me to literally crawl over her to get out. And me being the one who actually needed to go, I did what I had to do.

When I came back she was asleep again, so I grabbed the seat in front of me and pushed myself off the floor, hurling my body into my window seat so as not to stir her sleep. I didn’t.

All this to say, if you are in the aisle, be nice about it. You chose the seat, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t teenage girls feel terrible about kindly waking you up. Just be courteous.

And maybe don’t pick the aisle next time?

And to someone sitting in the window or middle seat, please be courteous when having to wake someone up. Lightly tap their shoulder and say excuse me, instead of trying to yell in their face or hitting them to wake them up. Also, if you can hold it a little longer, do so and see if the person next to you wakes up in the meantime. Even better, wait until they get up to go to the restroom, and then go. That’s a win-win for both of you! Don’t be that guy who has to get up 15 times in one flight to “stretch his legs”, climbing over everyone in the row.

If that’s you, maybe pick an aisle seat next time?

Sincerely,

The Fly Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long Distance Made Easy (Or So You Would Think)

I’ve been sitting in my seat on my flight to LAX staring at my laptop for the last 5 minutes trying to come up with a clever way to tell you that I am in a long distance relationship, but I couldn’t come up with anything that would come off as cute about it. So, here you go:

I am in a long distance relationship.

My boyfriend, Parker, lives in Los Angeles. We met in Atlanta four years ago, and have been dating a little over a year and a half. He is also an Actor, and our relationship is filled with understanding and encouragement on both sides.

When he moved to LA last August, I thought it would be daunting to stay together as a long distance couple. Even though I knew I would move to LA in five months time, there were still a lot of unknown factors when it came to maintaining a long distance relationship.

“Oh c’mon, Kelly. Five months? That’s nothing. Plus with all of the enhanced technology these days, you two can see each other over FaceTime every day if you want to. And text. And call. Back in my day, there were no such things as cellphones and we had to do this thing called ‘write a letter’…” said Every Adult Over The Age of 50.

I would stand there, pretending I was intently attune to the conversation, and once the advice (well lecture) was finished trickling out, I would add: “And thankfully, I also have  flight benefits!”

During those four months of our long distance relationship, with the entire country’s expanse between us, Parker and I saw each other at least twice a month. The great thing about his locale was that it was in a city that pertained to both of our careers: THE city for the film industry, Los Angeles. I could fly in for meetings, workshops, and auditions and also get to see Parker! I flew in and out, creating a foundation for myself in LA while getting to spend time with him in between.

I do understand how lucky we are. For one of us to have the ability to fly for free and come as often as needed was such a help to our relationship. Going into it, we both decided that if we became the priority over our careers, a break would be needed. But thankfully, a balance was kept and the groundwork of our LA careers was laid in those four months.

Once I moved to LA in January, we were no longer long distance anymore. I lived at the beach with my sister, he lived in a suburb of Hollywood, and we saw each other almost everyday.

But now I am based out of Atlanta for the summer before returning to LA in the fall, so for the next three months we are long-distance again. This should be easy, right? We have already endured a long distance trial, and I can fly out whenever I want with a B R E E Z E !

Sometimes though, having flight benefits does not make for easy travel.With every benefit in life comes the rules and sets of limitations.

The fact that I fly for free does not mean that I automatically get on any flight I want. I can’t just flick my wand and teleport to a seat like some wizard in Harry Potter.

I am called a Stand-by Passenger. I am a Non-Rev (Non revenue passenger, meaning I do not pay for a seat), which means I am a lower priority to any paying passenger on a plane. If there are seats available on a flight, then I may get lucky and get on the plane. It can be smooth and easy, or extremely stressful. Never in between.

Within the world of Non Revenue passengers, there are different levels of priority that decide the order of the list of passengers awaiting a seat. On a simple day, the list is prioritized based on the number of years the employee in the family has been working for the airline. The traveler whose family member has worked the longest would be the first on the list, etc.

However, every Non-Rev gets six special passes per year called S2. If someone checks in as an S2, using one of the six treasured tokens, then that person moves to the top of the standby list. A Non-Rev who has a 2008 start date of employment could pass another with a 1988 start date if they check in as an S2 on that flight. WHAT?

And sometimes there are people who get to the airport amusingly early who wander around and realize they can take an earlier flight to their desired destination. They then ask the gate agent if they can switch to this flight, and the gate agent tells them that they might be able to get on but will have to wait to see if a seat is available. So what does this mean? This passenger is now also considered a stand-by and is added to our list. However, because this person is a Revenue passenger, meaning they paid for a ticket, just not necessarily on this particular flight, they are put at the top of the Stand-by list. Customers first! Not so amusing anymore.

Things happen. Sometimes mechanical issues can occur, delaying flights or canceling them. That means there are now 150 people at least scrambling to jump on the next flight available to that destination. And since they do not have a seat assigned, they are put on the Stand-by list, ahead of all Non-Rev passengers. Also during holidays, traveling as a Non-Rev is pretty tough. Flights are always booked tight and there is very little room to squeeze on.

And this particular travel day, I encountered both of these scenarios. It is the day after Memorial Weekend, which means vacationers are flooding the airport, sunburnt and exasperated, trying to get back to home to press “play” on their everyday lives. I had checked the flights the previous night and decided to list myself on a flight at 9:45 am that had 3 seats left on it. I checked the Non-Rev list and decided that I would use one of my precious S2 passes to jump ahead of other passengers. Even though my dad has been working for the airline for 26 years and our priority is already high on its own, a lot of Non-Revs had checked in using one of their last S2’s, because they knew it was a holiday weekend and flights would be tight. So, apprehensively, I had to use one of mine to jump the people who had jumped me. Confusing, right?

I get to the gate and the list shows no seats left. None. At all. I guess the numbers had changed by the time I had arrived at the airport. I was listed as number 5, as there were some Revenue passengers ahead of me also crossing their fingers that they would get on this flight.

My mom and dad taught me to never leave a gate until the boarding door is closed. Even if the odds seem stacked against you, you never know what could happen. Sometimes people fail to show up to the flight, and after their name is called twice the gate agent releases their seat and gives it away to a standby passenger.

This time, there were five people who had failed to board the plane, so the gate agent lined up the first five people from the Stand-by list onto the boarding area. My heart pounded with excited nervousness of the possibility that I may get on this plane after all! I was the last in line, as we were lined up in order of priority.

And then, right as the gate agent was about to call our names individually to board, two people nonchalantly came up to the gate. They had been standing there the whole time, picking their noses I guess. At that moment I knew I had lost my shot. In the end, two others showed up and only one Stand-by got on that flight.

My name was then rolled over to the list of the next flight, leaving at 10:53 am. There were more seats available on this plane, so thankfully I got on! I texted Parker saying, “Pick me up at noon?” and whisked myself away in the book I was reading.

About 10 minutes later the captain comes on the intercom and says that right as the flight attendants prepared for departure, one of the boarding doors malfunctioned and the emergency slide was inflated. He had called maintenance, and they would be here soon. For now, hold tight.

In those situations, you do one of two things: whisk yourself away in your book again or completely freak out. I chose the latter. I immediately began a texting war with my mom, going through all of the possible scenarios that could affect me. The maintenance could take a couple of hours to fix the aircraft, at which point I would still have a seat on the plane. Or, a new plane would be brought in, and all passengers transferred to it. (But if this plane were smaller than the one I was on, then there would be no way I would have a seat). Third, everyone would be asked to de-plane and get rebooked on other flights. Which means all remaining flights of the day to LA would be FLOODED with Revenue Stand-by passengers.

Thankfully, I have the power to look up every flight leaving the airport and check the loads to see which plane I could possibly have a chance of getting on. My mom came up with other options, connecting to San Francisco and then arriving in LA, flying to Salt Lake, or maybe even to Tampa to take the last flight of the night.

Meanwhile, time was ticking and I knew there was another flight to LA at 12:15 pm. It was 11:30 now, and all passengers had been asked to de-plane and wait in the gate area for further notice. To me this sounded like my death sentence.

I snuck over the gate of the later flight, which was thankfully only a couple down from the one I had previously been at. I checked the list and there were, surprisingly, 50 seats on the flight. Thankfully, this later flight had changed aircrafts at the last minute, and brought in a bigger plane than anticipated. Which means? More seats for me!!!

I then ran back over to my previous gate where I found out that our plane was being fixed and would be delayed about 2 hours. This meant that most people would not have to be rebooked (unless they were dealing with connections), and that the 12:15 flight, which would now leave earlier than my original one (which was my second flight of the day I had tried), would be wide open. So, I jumped ship. I swapped flights with my S2 priority and jumped everyone, getting a better seat than I had had on my last plane, and now fully stocked with free “Apology” snacks from my last flight.

After about 8 phone calls with my mom, 4 hours of being at the airport and 3 flights tried, I finally made it. I am currently writing from my aisle seat near the front of the plane. I am finally headed to LA after being apart from Parker for three weeks. I also get to experience a cool acting opportunity while in town, so it’s a win-win!

Phew, I know that was long. But I wanted to give you an inside scoop on what it is really like to fly for free. While it is glamorous sometimes, like flying first class to Europe, it can also be extremely stressful, which is the case most of the time.

But it’s thrilling (sometimes). You play travel agent for yourself (or your mom does), and you figure it out. It may not always be a walk in the park, but that’s life.

Yes, my long distance relationship is maintained under very ideal circumstances, but keep in mind, it may not always be easy. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

*If you think this story sounds stressful, then get excited. Because honestly, today was about a 5 on a stress scale of 1-10. I can’t wait to continue to share these experiences with you! *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends in Flight

You aren’t going to believe this. It’s just too good to be true. You’re going to think, “Wow this really would make for a great TV Show”.

My absolute best friend, Kaley, flies for free as well. Her dad also works for the airlines so her family has flying benefits. At any given point in the day, I could literally call her and say, “Hey! Do you want to go to New York?” No we don’t have our own private jets or a pool full of money, we just happen to be best friends who fly for free and who have the bulk of our other friends in New York City. That’s not out of the ordinary at all! Pshhh.

ISN’T THAT CRAZY? Oh, and that’s actually happened before, multiple times, the whole “Let’s fly to New York today!” thing. In fact that was the case of our most recent trip to the city. Our mutual friend had a college graduation party at a swanky venue in Midtown, Manhattan, and we couldn’t refuse the invitation. We decided to fly up for that party and spend one night in the city. Are we Serena van Der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf yet? We wish.

I tried to come up with a simile for traveling with your best friend, but all I could come up with is: “Traveling with your best friend is like traveling with your best friend”. It’s exactly how you would imagine it! Two teenagers taking on the airport (and Manhattan for that matter) like total pros. We have had conversations about how our families would hold competitions when we were little to see who could navigate through the airport the best. It may sound strange, but as an 8 year old I took such pride in knowing the airport terminals like the back of my hand. OK let’s be real, I still take pride in it. But I can’t talk about that feeling with just anyone, because they wouldn’t understand. But to talk about that with my best friend? Perfect.

While we ride the Plane Train in the Atlanta airport, we both mouth the words that the Voiceover is saying because we know them by heart: “The next station is Concourse A. A as in Alpha…” We hop off at our terminal, T (we had come from terminal F) and head to our gate. Businessmen and women stare us down, looking for a sign of a parent and then realizing that we are traveling alone to New York City, a feat that they never could have done at 18 and 19 years old.

But this isn’t our first rodeo together. Our first time traveling to The City alone was when we were 15 and 16 years old (along with our other friend who was 15). We were in Manhattan for a week by ourselves, training at Broadway Artists Alliance. None of our moms were there, as so many other kids’ were. In fact, my parents were out of the country that week and I barely had access to call them! Talk about becoming independent at a young age.

Ahhhh we were naïve then. I remember the three of us linked arms walking down the street as if we were playing Red Rover, nervous about potential dangers from New Yorkers. Man that was a scary walk… all the way to our nearest Starbucks at the end of our street. Bravo, young Kaley, Kelly, and Ann Marie. So proud.

However silly that sounds, I do give us credit for being three young teenagers in The Greatest City In The World alone. While there were hotel chaperones through our training program, our moms had all signed us up for the option of walking back alone and taking care of ourselves. And we did have some hardships on the trip: Our hotel room was on the second floor, visible to the lobby. Our 4th night there, our lock on the door broke. We had no idea what to do! I couldn’t call my parents, but thankfully the other two called theirs. And of course the moms began to freak out. Maybe calling them wasn’t the best idea after all… I mean we can handle this, right?

In the end, we notified the hotel concierge (who we were friends with by name; Winston and Paul we owe you one!) and they called a mechanic to fix it in the morning. We alerted a hotel chaperone of what happened, and she checked up on us that night. We ended up staying in the same room, and barred the doors with all visible furniture possible. (Imagine three girls shoving hotel room chairs and suitcases to barricade the room from the outside world).

So much has changed since then. When Kaley and I traveled to New York last week, we stayed in Harlem in my Uncle’s apartment to which I have a key. We rode the subway like it’s our job and walked through Midtown, this time not playing Red Rover but playing Lets Blend In Like Locals. And we do! Little lost lambs, otherwise known as tourists, will come up and ask us directions. Now THAT is how you know you’re a New Yorker.

I am so blessed to have a friend in a similar situation as me. Not only a friend but also my best friend! We understand each other so well and I can talk freely with someone about flying and not have to worry about sounding spoiled. Score!

While we don’t always get to sit together when we travel, the flight is still so much more fun with a friend.

When we reached 10,000 feet on our way home from our one night stand with Manhattan (that actually turned into two nights because New York wooed us), I snuck into first class and tossed Kay some cinnamon rolls.

As I deplaned when we landed in Atlanta, I walked up to Kaley where she had been waiting for me. A brown package flew threw the air and landed in my hands: Brownie Brittle, a treasure from the First Class Snack Bin.

Now that’s what I call friendship in flight.

 

 

 

 

London Calling // Wide Awake In London

Most of the trips I fly are to NYC, LA, or ATL, back and forth in different directions between those three cities. However, this week I had the incredible opportunity to go on a “weekend holiday” (as a Brit would say) to my favorite European city: London, England.

I have so much to say about this glorious city and the magnificent vacation my parents and I had together there: exploring the city (with and without maps), touring sights that we had not yet seen before, and to top it off, we flew first class there and back! It was such a delight.

“OK wow I have to stop reading this blog. Seriously? This girl is extremely spoiled and talks about Europe as if she had a royal family there or something. First class? C’mon.”

I know. I sound ridiculously spoiled so if you decide to stop here, I do not blame you. Don’t worry, there will be another post next week. I won’t be offended.

But if you do decide to stay, listen up. The ONLY way I get to fly first class to Europe is because those seats are so expensive when flying overseas that not as many passengers purchase them (I’m talking upwards of $5,000). This means there is usually plenty of availability in the business class cabin for a Stand-By passenger like myself to get on. And I hate to say it, but my family and I only like to travel to Europe if there is a good chance that we will get first class seats. When we were younger, my siblings and I would joke that the plane ride was our favorite part of traveling overseas because we got to watch free movies and eat ice cream sundaes, getting a taste of the “Glamorous” life that Fergie sang about on the radio. I know, spoiled brats, right?

But I truly am grateful for the opportunity to fly and vacation to so many incredible destinations. Most of the expense of traveling across the pond is the plane ticket, so to be able to have the opportunity to fly anywhere is truly a gift. I have been fortunate enough to experience other parts of the world and immerse myself in other cultures starting at a young age. I was 10 years old when we went to Europe for the first time. Destination: Paris, France. Since then, I have been to Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Munich, Salzburg, Brussels, and London (now twice!).

What most people get hung up on is the length of our trips. Our family tradition is to go to a European city for three nights only. Yep. Three nights. And actually, this most recent trip to London was only supposed to be two nights, until I convinced my mom to stay a third (which I will talk about in a minute). Because we can pop into a city whenever we desire based on the flight availability, we don’t have to stay for multiple weeks to make up for the high cost of the flight. Plus, when my family vacations, there is not time for relaxation- we are doers. We always follow an extremely tight schedule that has been planned so that we can fully experience the city in the short amount of time that we’re there (Or try to at least- sometimes the city just has so much to offer that we can’t get all of the sights in, just as we felt about our previous trip to London four and a half years ago).

So what did my parents and I do this time in London vs. the last time we were here? Last time: The Tower of London, King’s Cross Station (Platform 9 ¾), Abbey Road, Harrods, Southbank, The British Museum, Covent Gardens, and a bus tour. My whole family, 3 nights, staying in an apartment right off the Bakerloo Tube line.

This time, only three family members were present. We stayed at a hotel in Piccadilly Circus, the London equivalent to Times Square. Our hotel was central to everything we wanted to experience, so it was perfect as far as location goes, but also amusing because it was so central that it was as if we were staying in Times Square. (And if you are a regular to NYC, you know that this is the last place you want to stay).

Despite the sea of people right outside our hotel, I fell in love with this city even more. Surprisingly, my parents and I did not have a plan, and just left everything up to our instincts and desires. The point of the vacation was to not stress out but to truly relax and enjoy our time. And we certainly did.

We toured Westminster Abbey, rode The London Eye, stumbled upon the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, took a stroll through the St. James Garden, explored the Winston Churchill Museum, and wandered around Covent Gardens and Trafalgar Square.

We also saw a show on the West End! Growing up as a theatre kid, it has been my dream to see a show in London, Europe’s equivalent to Broadway. We decided to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, a brilliant show whose technical execution and staging blew me away. The plot was so different from anything I’ve ever seen, and the actors were incredible (and not mic-ed! That is the European way. No mics are used in any show!).

Our last day in London, Sunday, my parents and I were walking through the Theatre district when I noticed a marquee with my favorite actor, Kit Harington on it. He plays Jon Snow in HBO’s Game of Thrones, and I am absolutely obsessed with him. We tried to go into the box office to get tickets for the show, Doctor Faustus, however in London the theatres are dark on Sundays for their day off (performing again on Mondays unlike in New York). This particular show is Kit’s first appearance onstage since playing the lead in War Horse before he was cast on Game of Thrones. Because of his shoot schedule, this performance has a limited run until June 25th. This was my one shot to see the show, but we were supposed to leave Monday morning. However, somehow I convinced my mom to stay with me another day: I would pay for the tickets to the show and the hotel room for that night. My dad would go home to Atlanta because he had to go back to work, and my mom and I would transfer hotels to Covent Gardens.

And let me tell you, it was worth it. Doctor Faustus was interesting and very dark, however I learned so much about themes of price worth paying for fame and fortune. I had the opportunity to meet my favorite actor and my mom and I were in box seats at the theatre. On top of that, we had a wonderful afternoon exploring Soho and literally turning down random streets that we thought were quaint, wandering around like we were locals. It was magic.

I know this post has been very long, but how could it not be? London is my favorite city in the world. Not only did I come to love it in new ways this trip, but also I found pure joy and learned a valuable lesson.

Part of the reason for taking this weekend holiday was to take a break from the “A” word. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been advised to find happiness outside of the acting business and enjoy life to the fullest. So, coming into this trip, I booked out with my agents, and let go of any thoughts about acting. I had had two auditions and a callback before I left, but they never entered my mind during our stay. And you know what? I had one of the best weekends of my life- I had a wonderful time in my parent’s company. The irony: acting was still all around me, and I was HAPPY about it! We ran into a Warner Brothers film set for a new Ryan Reynolds/ Samuel L. Jackson movie, and saw two shows on the West End.

Our last night, at 1:30 am London time, just as my mom and I were about to turn off the lights for good and I doing my final scroll of my Facebook feed, I got a message from my agents. They asked if I could call, yet I couldn’t because I can only use Wi-Fi on my cellphone in Europe. The first thought that entered my head: “Oh no, I have an audition tomorrow and now that I decided to stay in London another day, I may miss it”. But then I read the words, “You booked it Kelly! You booked (insert the name of a TV Show here)”. I was overcome with happiness, excitement, and disbelief, shaking uncontrollably. No longer was there an ounce of tiredness in my bones. I came to London to let go, and once I truly allowed myself to do so, God showed me that enjoying life and His creation leaves for more opportunity for His purpose to prevail.

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I used to have an extreme fear of jet lag when traveling to Europe; a fear that I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. Of course, when I was overcome with this anxiety, I lay awake for hours. However, during this trip to London, I slept soundly every night. Falling asleep was a breeze and I truly latched onto the time zone!

Last night, after I received the news of my booking at 1:30 am, I could not fall asleep for hours. My mom and I were overjoyed, texting friends and family and squealing with delight over the wonderful news. We couldn’t fall asleep until 4 am. We were wide-awake in London, yet I wasn’t afraid about not being able to sleep. I didn’t mind at all. Besides, I knew we had lay-flat seats in first class on the way home to rest on.

The Fly Girl

Come Fly With Me

In 2015, I boarded 85 planes and flew 85 times. This number means I flew on average at least once a week, sometimes two. [My record however was 6 planes in 7 days]. No, I am not a businessman, nor do I work for a company that requires me to travel back and forth to some mundane office job. I am not even of age to work in an office, nor do I ever intend too (no offense to anyone who does, it’s just not the path of life that I am on).

My name is Kelly, and I am 19 years old. I have the incredible blessing of flying for free- my dad is a pilot, so my family and I have free flying benefits. I can go anywhere in the world for free as a Stand-By passenger- this means that if there is an empty seat on the plane, I can hop on and take that seat. (With some priority rules of course, which I will discuss in later blog posts)

I am an actress. I work in TV/Film, Voiceover, Commercials, and Musical Theatre. Most actors plant themselves in one city in hopes to conquer that particular market (The Big 3 Cities being LA, New York, or Atlanta). However, with my flying benefits, my parents and I have come up with a schedule where I am able to fully and completely work in all three markets, commuting back and forth from each, and changing my home base every once in a while. I recently moved back to my hometown near Atlanta for the summer, however I will be commuting to LA and NYC quite often. For what, you might ask? Auditions, workshops, classes, networking opportunities, and to visit friends. I have agency representation and free lodging in all three cities, so I am able to be a local hire and audition in all of the major markets! I do not take this opportunity lightly- while I am young and have the ability, why not take advantage of my circumstance and also pursue my dreams?

But this blog is NOT about acting. In fact, I am doing this because writing is a hobby I very much enjoy, and takes me out from under the cloud of stress that constantly hangs over my head. Recently I have been told that I need to find other things in life that make me happy, anything but acting. My fierce passion for my career has a tendency of consuming my everyday thought, and consistently holds the key to my happiness. However, I only have one life, and I am beginning to realize that the best way to enjoy it is by maintaining strong relationships with people I care about, and doing the things that I love. I love to act, but if working as an actor equals my happiness in life, then I will probably never work. It’s the ease of acting, the radiant joy that comes from within combined with the skill (and mostly the look) that you have, that books you the job. If you are in your left side of the brain, thinking about how badly you want the job and piling up pressure on yourself, your body will crack in the audition room. As an actor, I balance on a thin wire. In order to avoid the sharks circling beneath my feet, I must think about anything other than the potential of falling while walking on the tight rope.

[I know. I just talked about acting. THAT IS THE LAST TIME! This blog is indeed about traveling, and I will only mention the “A” word again if it pertains to my reason for hopping on another plane. ]

This blog is about my experiences traveling. Not necessarily the destinations I go and the “cool” spots to visit, but the experiences I have as a 19-year old girl flying alone. I meet so many people from all walks of life, and go through so many crazy situations on a typical travel day. I will also include passages about my favorite airports, the cheapest and easiest modes of transportation when arriving in a city, my go-to travel essentials, in-flight entertainment, and details of current trips plus flashbacks from when I was young.

One last thing: I do not think I am better than anyone. (And if it sounds like I do from this post, please tell me). I am not trying to promote myself and get a following online. I am very aware of how spoiled I sound when I talk about flying, and trust me, I am trying my best to avoid that air. I am insurmountably grateful for this life that God has given me and for this unbelievable benefit I was dealt.

Honestly, I never would have decided to blog about my experiences if it weren’t for the encouragement of my boyfriend, Parker, and a recent encounter with a casting director named Kim. I lightly mentioned to Kim in conversation that I flew in that afternoon for a workshop she was teaching, and intended to fly out the next morning. She was intrigued, and soon we began talking for 25 minutes about my situation and my experiences. I mentioned that I had thought about writing a blog, and she immediately responded, “YES. Also, write a Pilot”, no pun intended, “This would be such an entertaining show”.

For now, I am sticking with the blog. I hope that you enjoy my posts and if you feel compelled, share them with your friends! (But if you don’t, then that’s fine too. Because again, I am not trying to promote myself)

Thank you for flying with me!

The Fly Girl