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.


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

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.


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.


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…


What if I check the stand-by flight loads?

Maybe something has changed?


Kelly, no. Don’t even bother.

Dad gets on the phone, agitated


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











Where In The World Is The Fly Girl?

The past couple of months have had me traveling frequently. LA to Atlanta back to LA to New York to LA to Atlanta to London to Atlanta to LA…. it keeps going.

My roommates in LA have had a hard time keeping track of me. I came home from a recent trip to London and one of my roommates said, “I’ve literally had to look at your Snapchat stories to figure out where in the world you are.”

And I’ve realized that I’m at this stage in my life where that is what I thrive on: never being in one place for too long. The constant “on the go” feeling. The desire to chase adventure and not be holed down to one place.

It’s a thrilling place to be, not ever wanting to be in one place. Yet, at the same time, it’s unsettling. It’s as though I’m trying to escape reality. I want to live a life of glamour and adventure and not face the monotony of everyday life.

The irony? My everyday life is never the same. I fill my days up with countless tasks, meetings, activities, and anything to stay busy. I see friends all the time, make lunch dates, work on writing, music and school work. I yearn to make each day count towards something.

But for some reason, I’m antsy. I desire to travel and see the world. I look for ways to get out of my home-base of LA. It’s not that things are bad here- I’m doing really well actually. But no matter what city is my home base, I want to get away.

Is that a bad thing? Maybe, maybe not. I need to learn to be ok with doing nothing. I’ve struggled with this all of my life, so that is nothing new.

I guess the way I look at it, I am not getting any younger. While I’m young, single, and have the opportunity, why not travel whenever I can? Why not take advantage of the situation? I’m making friends all around the world, experiencing different cultures and learning how to be an independent woman.

I live off of the adventure of traveling. The plane rides, guiding myself through a city, meeting up with different friends, even the stress of potentially not getting back to where I’m supposed to be.

Because am I really supposed to be anywhere? This is my life, my journey, and I get to pave my way through it.

Wanna know where I am?

Follow the contrails.

-The Fly Girl


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!




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.


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?”



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