Monthly Archives: November 2011
Holiday travel.( Part 1.) Corporate style
Oh yes, the wonderful holiday season is upon us once again… Family and friends take extra time out of their busy schedules to spend time with loved ones… Even travel great distances to do so….”the average family” will plan for a long car, train, or plane ride to see relatives or just get away and take a small vacation together.. They book their travel plans weeks or months in advance to get the best fare and/ or hotel rates…and on that joyous day of travel, they pack, wait in lines, pray for no weather delays/ cancellations, and begin their journey to their hopeful destination….
The “above average family” does things a bit different… They fly private..which means, may decide a couple days in advance they want to see “Aunt Etna” on the other side of the country or get away to Hawaii for some quite family time. Someone Makes a phone call to book a private jet, or get their own ready. Someone may even pack for them.. And of course schedule their hotel stays, transportation while on vacation, and book their entertainment reservations. I think the biggest reason why private travel (for those who can afford it), has grown so much in this decade, is due to the fact that people dont want to deal with the challenging schedules of airlines and possibility of their plans being disrupted by flight cancellations and delays.. Generally speaking, people have less vacation time and ability to get away from work for these getaways. Our time spent with our family has declined due to the depressing financial state of this country and the need to work longer and more often. Flying private saves time, and in the long run can actually save money…
The children of these privileged souls come properly prepared with their iPads, iPhones, and all the rest of the newest technology based trinkets on the market. They may also have a nanny traveling with them which means iam not expected to play babysitter :-). ..These children, much like their parents, are also awaiting their 5 star catering once on board. and of course… I have it for them..
Now, I must say, as a corporate flight attendant, the holiday season, although busy, is greatly less stressful than it is in the commercial world of flying.. first, as i mentioned above, The children on board are well entertained, so there is not a lot of screaming and carrying on. Although they may appear to be a little spoiled, I do witness more manners when asking for things than I did while I was flying commercial. They also know exactly what they want and how they want it prepared… I find it both amusing and refreshing to serve a 5 year old that knows how he wants his chicken fingers cooked and instructs me on the specific amount of apple juice that is suppose to be filled in his cup..oh, and, ” please give me half a cookie, my mother says iam borderline gluten intolerant “..
The private jet setters also have the luxury of traveling with as much luggage as they want, including all the gifts for their family or friends. No need for standing in lines at the post office or fed-ex.. Or wrestling with bags in the airports and paying for each bag individually. For me as a flight attendant, the down side is that it does get a little crowded in the cabin, and navigating my way through and around bags while serving a 5 course meal, can get a little hairy.. It is a complete obstacle course and at times and I feel like iam in the circus ( balancing my silver platters of food and drink) through the sea of bags, people, and trinkets…
I pray to get through all my food service without dropping, spilling, or breaking anything!
Finally, I would like to mention, pets… Our little furry friends who usually have to stay at home or boarded in some kennel while the owners take their vacations, can happily come aboard a private plane with no hassle.. To many people (including myself), pets are like our children. And I know that when I travel home for the holidays, I want my pup with me. When I travel commercial I know that I have to deal with quite the preparation and ordeal to take her along. First, I need a letter from my vet clearing her as a “medically sound” animal to have in public.Second, I have to call ahead and reserve a pet space on the plane. Apparently there is this silly rule that there can only be two animals in a commercial plane cabin, at a time. Why can’t this rule apply to children??? Third, I have to pay on average $300 round trip for my 13 pound dog to sit with me or under my seat. Fourth, there is the whole procedure at the airport getting her through the security checkpoints and the rest of the airport..And finally, depriving her of water and food prior to the flight so she will not be In anguish during the 5 hour flight across country.
What is needed to fly your pet on a private jet?? nothing… Just the pet and it’s travel needs…no paperwork, no hassle…
Happy travel holidays… More to come after Christmas 🙂
Travel , Transportation,Technology..
As a corporate flight attendant, I find myself in foreign cities and countries on a normal basis. Sometimes it is destinations I have been a million times and I begin to know the layout of the land like it’s home. However, the first time I arrive some place New, it always becomes an adventure and can be both fun and frustrating at the same time…
When I arrive in a new city, the first thing I do is inquire about all the modes of public transportation available, ( ususally with my hotel concierge ). I also grab a map of the city ). since iam often running around to a multitude of catering locations, i try and make this as stress free as possible.
First, I take advantage of technology. There are now iPhone and other smart phone apps like , “hopstop”that help you navigate the nyc subway system, “google maps”,( that works just about everywhere)’ and “yelp” to help you locate the best choices and closest locations for restaurants, stores, gas and much more. And When i dont have time to seek out my own catering, I use a ” vip catering” app on my phone to locate a caterer worldwide! There are also phone apps or portable translators to help in non english speaking countries.
For transportation on my trips, I utilize the following.
In the states, I use everything: taxis, rental cars, car services, my two feet, trains, etc Cities like NYC, make it easy to get around. If you get tired of walking, a subway or cab can take you anywhere at any time. In Places like Midland Texas, a rental care is my first choice. While in Europe, I dare not drive ( due to the left side of the road thing, And my past experience of fluke accidents), so I use all public transport methods.. For example, London has the wonderful “tube”. If you have never used this because you think it is too complicated, rest assured it is even easier than the subway system in NYC. ( this coming from someone that can get lost very easily). It’s also cheap and safe. Which are two important attributes when running around aimlessly for days on end.. In Paris, I tend to use cabs or even a bike. And of course walk.. Since the city is so convienant to navigate around and so pretty ! By the way, This is the origin of my title “cobblestomes and heels” 😉
There are some places like Hawaii or the carribean islands that rent out scooters, gulf carts, and bikes too.. These are fun and make transportation easy.
On the job, There are times when a simple catering task can become one big adventure.
For instance, I was once in a foreign, non- English speaking city, with a catering list a mile long. In short, I got lost about 4 times, lost my train ticket, could not find a cab, and my cell phone died. In addition, Somehow I ended up having lunch with a random stranger… Yes, all in one afternoon.. The ” stranger” ended up being my guardian angel for the day. Besides treating me to lunch, He helped me finish my catering, get back to my hotel safely, and well, became a pen pal and resource for future trips to this city!
When is it the most frustrating? like the example above, In places where English speaking people and signs, are few and are between ( and there is not helpful stranger). This is where your portable translator comes in handy. Places like Germany or Japan, have been most challenging for me- especially while locating stores and specific restaurant locations where i need to gather work related items from. In this instance, I use all my resources. I may even “skpe” a friend who has knowledge of my whereabouts, for added assistance.
At times when my frustration level is too high or my energy level is is too low, I splurge on a car service with an English speaking driver…
Finally, I will have to say, my favorite place to get lost is Italy. Besides the fact that i love the food and culture, I find Italian people, especially the men, to be extremely helpful and chivalrous. When asking for directions to my specific catering destinations, I have been offered full escort service to ensure my success! Also, while waiting for my food preparation, everyone seems to offer me a complementary glass of vino and sample tasting of various menu items. Oh, and I certainly don’t mind the free cannolis and other goodies I come across when wondering into the wrong locations along my catering expeditions. Now some may say being a female and a tall blond may be the reason for this helpfulness. But What ever the reason may be, I welcome the assistance …
If you would like additional tips on transportation and other travel related resources, please do not hesitate to ask me !