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I believe there should be one place for everyone who has travel related questions to write in and receive all the information they need..
Free, honest advice .. From someone who actually travels ..
Where is that wonderful place?? HERE
please ask cobblestones and Heels all your travel related questions. You can also choose to have your Q & A’s public or private :-).. So when you have a question .. I have an answer..
Cobblestones and Heels…
I must say, I am not a fan of commercial travel… At all. Unfortunately, while I may work on private jets, my personal travel is commercial :(. So, I do everything I can to limit the stress and tedious steps that get me from my home to my final destination….
First, I highly suggest booking far in advance, 3 weeks to 2 months out. And on a tuesday when the booking prices are the lowest. Also, Travel insurance / flexible tickets are a good idea.. Things happen and plans may change….Book your rental cars, hotels, etc the same way.
24 hours prior, print your boarding passes and your checked luggage tags.
And, If you can avoid checking your luggage, do so! Use a multipurpose garment bag that can fit in the overhead bin and your non liquid cosmetics in your smaller carry on ( or a larger purse).
On the topic of cosmetics and “carry ons”, leave your good stuff at home. I like to bring cleaning cloths and multi- use face creams to make things easier. Travel size shampoos and conditioners of my favorite brands, and then I use the hotel lotions.
Don’t wait til the night before to pack. You will be thinking all night if you forgot something.. Pack a few days before and then the night before just double check.
Schedule a pickup van to bring you to the airport. They are cheaper than cabs, and are door to door service.. And very reliable. (again, we are trying to avoid stress!).
When you arrive at your airport, you should already have your paperwork, and, unless you are dropping off luggage for checked baggage, you should be able to proceed directly to the security line..
Ugh, the dreaded security lines, ! Ok, to cut down on the stress of this procedure, make sure you: wear slip on shoes, no belts, jeans with bling, or have any metal that will detain you and be cause for a pat down! Make sure you have checked your carry ons ahead of time for pointy objects, liquid over 3oz, and anything that will draw attention to your bags.. TSA get bored and look for ” things to do”. Lol.
Another nice travel aid is a water bottle with a built in filter! So you can bring it empty then fill it up in the airport fountain. Then you are not spending 5 bucks for a bottle of water!
For travel snacks, see my previous blogs…
Make sure you packed headphones, and your entertainment of choice. I think iPads are great for reading, writing, work, games, movies, etc. All in one!
Hmmm, have I forgot anything?
Well, that is what comments are for I guess… Feel free to write me for your specific questions and for more stress free flying tips!
Cobblestones and Heels
I recently decided to take a mini vacation in San Diego, CA. You see, even when iam not traveling for work.. I feel the need to go somewhere… Even if I have been there before ( many times before ). It’s a sense of escape and fresh surroundings that I crave.. it’s also the ‘hotel experience.’
I love the maid service, room service, and a phone next to my bed in which I can use to request just about anything … I love someone else making my bed everyday, and restocking my mini bar of bottled water and yummy snacks! And i even love the bathroom toiletries that are constantly replenished, ( which also make great gifts and stocking stuffers at Christmas time). 😉
I know that all sounds a bit high maintenance but it’s just something I have grown to love in my life…Its funny, many people ask me- “don’t you hate living out of a suitcase and staying in hotels all the time?”. And iam like, “Are you kidding?? I love it!”.
So, having said that, I have decided to add specific hotel segment to my blog.. I will add a new hotel experience/ review on a normal basis. As with my other blogs, I hope you find these entries both entertaining and informative… And as usual, I encourage you to comment or request info any time you would like 😉
Hotel Del Coronado
Corporate travel etiquette.
As we all know, there are certain rules (written and unwritten) that accompany commercial airline travel. Things such as standing in Long security lines and TSA procedures, Checking in for a
flight at least an hour prior to the scheduled departure, Boarding priority for the plane, and Adapting your plans and schedule around the airline schedule including delays and cancellations..
I call such things rules and etiquette of travel.
Flying on corporate jets is vastly different, but there are still procedures to follow and a right vs wrong way of “behaving”… Which I refer to as corporate travel etiquette.
Let’s start with the obvious ones. First, although a paying client may have anyone onboard he or she wants, all the names of passengers still need to be recorded and sent through screening prior to plane taking off. Another words, if you decide to have 5 new friends show up to accompany you on your trip at the last minute, understand there will be a slight delay to your travels until everyone is cleared from a security stand point..
Another more obvious rule, when traveling out of the country, make sure your passport and or visa are up to date… private jet customers is not excused from immigration laws. And no body wants to be detained in foreign countries…including the crew.. What you may not know is that Some foreign nationals require a visa for entry into the United States and some airlines and charter companies are able bring these passengers without a visa into the United States as they
participate in the “Visa Waiver Program” allowing the carrier to transport passengers from certain counties into the US.
One of my favorite etiquette rules to pass on to private flyers is this..Although you do control the time of departure, please do not show up 5+hours late. (without notification). For one reason, the expensive catering you ordered is probably now ruined and will have to be reordered and
re-billed. ( to you). Reason two, pilots have to file departure slots at some airports, this can be a major issue if you miss your slot window and then have to request another departure and or arrival slot. Crews also have Duty-Time restrictions which may be impacted by a delay in your departure. And finally, Some may say-it’s also a little rude..
Adding to my travel etiquette list, i would like mention that Once onboard the jet, please be conscious of the fact that you are on a multimillion dollar plane. Treat it like so, especially if you do not own it yourself… Unfortunately This is not obvious etiquette to everyone..
Recently, I was told that a huge celebrity figure, and their entourage, physically destroyed a Gulfstream 300. Needless to say, they are now banned from flying without supervision.. Meaning a flight attendant always needs to be present to keep them in check when flying with this particular charter company.
Smoking onboard, while sometimes allowed, is more often discouraged and sometimes forbidden by some aircraft owners chartering their aircraft to others. Not only is it unhealthy for passengers and crew to inhale, it also ruins the interior of these beautiful planes.. it seeps into the carpet, the walls, etc. Need I say more?
Then, there is the topic of luggage. (Yes, there is luggage etiquette as well.). While traveling on a private jet, the only real formal “rule” is the obvious – NO drugs or unauthorized weapons in your luggage! Other than that, passengers are generally allowed to bring everything and anything with them.. In large quantities . And they do! There are times when luggage gets out of hand and seating becomes limited on the aircraft . I have seen people attempt to pile luggage in my kitchen galley! So, read carefully- first, Large pieces of luggage go in the ” luggage compartment” not the main seating area.( cabin). Second, your smaller bags( computer bags, purses, gift bags, etc) can be stowed behind seats and in safe areas of the cabin so they don’t take flight when we do! And no, you can’t put them in the cockpit either. Your cabin attendant will carefully take care of all your belongings if you let her/him. So release a little control and allow them to make the cabin a safe and comfortable place for you, your guests, and your luggage.
And last but not least , Another one of my favorite etiquette rules once in flight, is the idea of actually sitting during take off and landing, without being told to do so..
The corporate flight attendants are not there to harass you or treat you like you’re flying coach on a commercial airliner, however, it’s safety 101 that should tell you it’s not a good idea to be in the lavatory or walking around during these two crucial times of flight. These planes can have mechanical problems or accidents just like any other plane.. so, act
responsible and safe on your own.. And dare I say, it might be a good idea to take off and land with a seat belt on! Eeek!
So, now you know the etiquette rules before booking your next charter jet.
I look forward to serving you 🙂
Sorry There has been in lapse in my blogging lately. It’s not due to lack of material, but just the opposite. I have had two days at home the last month.. One week spent on a campaign trail, one week spent in China, etc.etc.. Which brings me exactly to my topic of discussion…
My personal life vs my job… I need to start by saying I LOVE MY JOB. There is nothing better in the world to me than packing my suitcase knowing iam off for another adventure… Both on and off the plane… Knowing I will be somewhere in the world that maybe I have not yet been and will have the great fortune of experiencing different culture, food, people. Plus being paid for it.. 12 years now this has been my life And there is not one day that I contemplate giving it up.
Then, there is my life at home. A sweet , loving dog, great friends and family, and now a new boyfriend whom I adore..and love spending my free time with. People always ask me if I get home sick or lonely on the road. The answer is yes .. And I do miss my pup and my boyfriend very much, but since we spend the majority of our lives working, I feel blessed that I can have a career that I love so much, even If it means leaving loved ones at home for extended periods of time.
Recently, the topic of ” the future” came up in conversation between my boyfriend and I. It was not an easy topic for either of us to discuss.. But it was an important one. We talked about the idea of marriage, kids, and my job..
Being the blunt honest person iam, I did pronounce my reluctant attitude concerning children. I explained my position in my career, including the fact that you rarely see VIP flight attendants running around pregnant. ” I do not fly for delta” I told him.. Meaning, no one really wants to see a pregnant flight attendant on a private jet. I can’t even think of a comparison to that but iam sure I don’t need to.. It’s pretty self explanatory. I also don’t want to take a year off from my job or even be a mom that takes off across the world for weeks on end, leaving her child at home with a nanny…
I do feel like that is the position I am in.. Making a choice between my life now ( which I love) or a life without travel/ my career…
I don’t know if there are other corporate VIP flight attendants that feel this way, but I do know my job has been known to cause divorce.. The thing is, I have never really wanted children. I have wanted adventure. I have wanted to see the world and experience all the wonderful things that travel brings.
My boyfriend on the other hand wants other things. He wants a family to come home to at the end of his day. He wants a child to pass on his genes and name. And I get that.
So here we are…though I have made my decision concerning my life and my future.. I made it the first time I packed a suitcase and boarded a plane.. The first time I smelled jet fuel and took off into the sunset and above the clouds..
Yea, I love my man, my dog, my family and Friends. But my future, as long as I have one, has to include an airplane..
911… 10 years Later….
The impact 9/11. had on my entire life ; As a flight attendant, a native New Yorker, and an American citizen.
This past year i began writing a blog to journal and share my work experiences as a corporate flight attendant. If you have never read my blogs, i write on a variety of topics concerning private aviation and my travels , usually adding humor as I tell my stories. But today, as I write this blog entry, i reflect on the impact 9/11 had on my entire life..starting with my career as a flight attendant.
I began my career in aviation a year and a half prior to 9/11/2001 as a commercial flight attendant. My first year on the job was a huge lifestyle adjustment but also it was also exciting and full of new adventures . My only ” fears” I had on the job were that of long delays, bad weather, and cranky passengers. I never even gave much thought to the idea of a plane crash let alone hijacking! ( Those who know me well , know that iam somewhat of a fearless person in all aspects of my life.)
A typical day At work consisted of on-loading and off-loading passengers, quick meal services, and Flight attendant ” chitchat” on the jumpseat. When we needed a break from service, we would hideout in the cockpit chatting with the pilots. The the cockpit door was never locked and sometimes not even closed. Easy breezy days for the most part.
Then, on September 11th, 2001 .. Just 15 months into my career, EVERYTHING changed. Fear on the job meant different things.. We all had Fear of the middle eastern- looking passengers, fear of flying certain flight routes, and the general fear of that day happening again …
The cockpit doors became locked and enforced with steel, codes and passwords were changed, and our flight attendant trainings now included self defense maneuvers and additional hijack training. There were also government officials staged as passengers aboard every other flight. These measures were suppose to instill the feeling of safety to our passengers and crew members. But I don’t think it ever did..
A few years later I made a small career change and became a corporate flight attendant. Instead of a Boeing 737s with 120 passengers and 3 flight attendants, I now work on luxurious Corporate jets holding the maximum of 16 pax and only “little me” working in the back cabin. I honestly admit that I find my self getting a little nervous when i see names on my passenger manifest that are of certain nationality decent. and I often imagine different hijacking scenarios, and what I would do alone in the back of the cabin…all of these unpleasant thoughts that I would never have had if the tragedy 9/11 had not occurred . And unfortunately, those thoughts may never go away…
The Native New Yorker
New yorkers have always had the stereotype of being harsh, blunt, opinionated, and unfriendly. As well as tough, honest, and success driven … Depending on what part of the country you live in, seems to govern what your opinion is . In Los Angeles, CA, where i now reside, i often find myself defending My native state and its people. Sometimes, 9/11 will come up in conversation and when it does, I will always say…” Well thank God New Yorkers are tough and driven, because that city managed to rise up through the ashes, dust itself off, and move on,( holding on to the memory but not letting it hold them down.). ” What I didn’t say, is that I had my doubts if CA (especially southern) could have rebounded as fast and with as much pride and strength.
Don’t get me wrong, I know the whole country felt the pain of 9/11, but I do believe that New York residents felt it on a whole different level.. It was OUR back yard that was blown up, and OUR neighbors that were killed.. We didnt just read about it in the paper or watch it on the news..some of us saw the towers fall In front of us as our lungs inhaled the smoke from the fires…And 10 years later, the fear and threats of a repeat attack are still present everyday, especially on every anniversary of that day.
The American citizen
Prior to 9/11/2001, the only war I had ever experienced in my life time was the gulf war. And at the age of 14, when it was going on, I really didn’t understand it or pay much attention.. I was too busy being a kid. Playing with my friends and riding my horses.. And while I was aware of the stressed relationships between the USA and some other countries, I was still in a delusional fantasy land ( as my father called it), of thinking there was world peace. It really took 9/11 to change that for me. For the first time, my eyes were opened to the hatred and evilness in the world. I saw my country under attack and my sense of peace diminished. I began to doubt the future and even decided I didn’t Want to bring children into a world that was so destructive and unstable. Even after the day Osama Bin Laden was captured, I didn’t feel relief and I didn’t feel hopeful for the future of the world.. Because I knew there are more to take HIS place…
But I am sure of one thing.. wars do not create safety and can not undo the past.. They only create more hatred and fear. As an American citizen, I hope and pray now that somehow peace can someday be regained in the hearts of every human ..in every country, state,and city in this world…and MAYBE if I do my part with positive energy, loving prayers, and sharing the words in my blogs, it will catch on.
Today, On September 11, 2011, just remember the LOVE you felt for the lives lost, and the powerful structures that fell… But let go of the anger towards those who caused it.. Because you cant change the past…you only change the present and the future ..
Maybe we can all do that together….
Cobblestones and heels..
memoirs of a corporate flight attendant
Does anyone speak english?
My famous last words as I scour the crowded gourmet deli in a small town in Germany…after receiving my latest catering order via my blackberry, I
Have set out on a quest for a selection of cheeses, vegetarian canapés, and wine. I wonder the store looking for someone who may be able to help me find my requested items. The tall young man working at the counter is no help. When asked to translate the labels on the cheese counter, he just stares Back at me with a Solum expression that says either: i have no idea what you need, please speak German ,or, I really can’t be bothered with this annoying American today. Lately, my slightly pessimistic attitude towards foreigners leads me to think that it is the later. Either way, iam forced to look among the other patrons for help. And finally, an older woman who is sympathetic to my situation and speaks a little english, assists me with my translating needs. I then quickly gather my items and return to the counter to the unhelpful young man, and hand him my credit card.
Ok, that wasn’t so bad.. One stop shopping today for my next flight..and I know Mr. X will be happy with the catering items I was able to find for him. Which, is the only thing that ever matters in end.
Now walking down this rugged cobble stone street in my 3 inch heels, carrying my shopping bags, I look for a taxi.
In this job there are a few simple things that make me happy. For one, no matter what part of the world you are in, taxis generally all look the same. to most people this is an overlooked and taken for granted fact, but to me, anything that can take the guess work out of my job is appreciated. Another thing I am grateful for is being a woman when needing assistance with transportation, directions, or manual labor such as carrying heavy bags.. There is bound to be a “gentleman” somewhere in the vicinity that is eager to save or assist the damsel in distress ( smiley face). After a couple moments an old gentleman approaches me and gestures to my bags as if to ask if I need help with them. He smiles at me and says something in German I naturally can’t understand but I perceive it to be harmless. I say “verkehrsmittel ?”. Which i believe to be the word for transportation…he points to a cross street that is apparently a place I can expect to find a taxi. He continues to carry me bags across the street for me.I take out the hotel business card in my pocket and show it to him. A taxi cab pulls up next to us and the nice man still holding my bags takes the card and explained to the driver where to take me.
I thank him by a smile and a nod and hop into the cab.
Enroute back to my hotel I retract my blackberry from my purse and email my crew to announce my where a bouts and my catering success. Unlike the days I have to converse with restaurant or hotel staff in a non speaking country- in order to place my food requests, today was a breeze.
Now, i have two hours left to organize my myself before returning to the airport for my 3 hour flight to London. My pilots i am sure are enjoying a nice meal at the hotel or lounging in their rooms watching tv.. Which is what they do, while iam out running around in high heels on cobblestone streets……
My top Tips for travel out of the country
Including customs interaction
First let me say, most of my advice comes for learned experience. Not all pleasant lessons learned. So I feel it’s my civil duty to pass these tips along in order to prevent others from unfavorable experiences with immigration and customs.
Tip one, always apply for and renew your passport at least 6 months before travel out of the country. right now, due to security issues, there are major delays in processing. You may have seen this with drivers licenses as well. If you need a visa, also obtain as early as possible and research your point of entry ( country you will be traveling to), so you know exactly what you will need,before planning your vacation/ work trip. Countries such as Asia or brazil are very strict with this.
Tip two, if traveling to underdeveloped countries, find out which vaccine is needed. Customs usually requires documentation ( proof) of vaccine. Also, if a vaccine is needed, ie yellow fever, hepatitis, make an appointment with your doctor and find out exactly what is needed and what is not. As well as, the side effects, how far in advance to get the vaccine, how to take it, and how it may effect you personally.
Tip three, when you are in any customs office/ site, do NOT use your cell phone in front of the officers. they are not a fan of this and will express their dislike in a variety of ways (again, another lesson learned on the road).
Tip three, make sure you have copies of your identification documents, as well as the hard copies. Even download them to a computer, iPhone, etc so if all copies are lost, stolen, etc you can still access them. You do not want to be detain in a foreign country!
Tip four, answer all questions honestly and politely but donor give information that is not asked. depending on where you are, Americans are not always accepted with open arms… Shocker.
Tip five, do not think you can hide items, even high cash amounts. Be honest on your immigration forms.. Worse than not following the rules, is lying about it. Even on a private plane.
Since iam sure you all way want an example of this from my experiences, I will tell you a short story;
Working a trip from Europe back to the USA, i knew that upon our arrival into the point of entry airport, any fruits, vegetables, and meats I had on board, needed to be thorn out. However, I did not want to waste some of my catering that I may need for the next 5 hour leg back to my final destination, so I attempted to hide some items.( Honestly just a fruit tray and some gourmet meats and cheeses).. I figured, what’s the big deal..
Well, Customs came on board with their gadgets and dogs and asked me if I had thrown away all my “international Garbage”, and did I have any foreign foods left on board? I replied NO, and started to sweat.. The officer then walked through my little galley and began digging around in my drawers and cabinets.. And, as my luck would have it, found the damn fruit tray…. They looked at me with this questioned expression and I shrugged my shoulders and said- “sorry, I must have missed that”… Luckily, all I got was a good talking to, but I was told I could have been fined, along with my company, a lot of money.
Now this was early on in my career, but I will never forget how nervous and freaked out I was… Every country and city station handles things differently, some may not even look or ask, but on the chance that they will… I have never again attempted to hide anything…even a strawberry.
Tip six. You can never be too careful with the foods you eat and the beverages you consume. Be safe with bottled water, little to no ice cubes, steer clear from meats you don’t recognize, and seafood that is sold at an outdoor vendor. In addition, eat separate items than the people you are traveling with. One person getting sick is not as bad as all! A lesson learned over and over by flight crew.
Tip seven. Travel advisories put out by the government can be very helpful. Prior to your trip, read up on the suggestions and restrictions made by your government and other travelers.
And finally, tip eight. commercial plane or private, always know who the hell you are! Ie. your social security number, address, emergency contacts, where you are going and where you are coming from! Don’t look like an idiot and not have the answers to the customs forms.. You wouldn’t believe some of the passengers I have flown that can’t fill those things out by themselves! And sorry, no names 🙂
If you have any additional questions that pertains to international travel, feel free to comment and ask!
hello, Bonjour, pronto, ahoy, Hallo!
Finally, after years of my friends and family asking many questions about the details of my job as a corporate flight attendant, I have decided to blog as an avenue for their answers!
For those of you that do not know the difference between a Corporate flight attendant and a Commerical one, let me make the explaination simple.
First, I don’t work on Boeing 737s, Airbuses, or commuter prop planes. I work on Gulfstreams, Falcons, and Legacies. Second, I don’t sling peanuts and push a beverage cart. I serve caviar, 4 course meals, and spend days preparing elaborate catering for my passengers. Third, I don’t wear a uniform. I wear a Micheal Kors suit. And finally, I don’t spend 24 hours in Denver, Co or Newark, NJ. I spend a week in Argentina, South of France, or anywhere in the world my high profile clients wish to go! Now there is nothing wrong with uniforms or Newark… And I happen to like peanuts..but in making the comparison, you see my world in private aviation.
My job can be fascinating, stressful, eye opening, and exhaustingAll in one day. It can also cause havoc on my personal life, make it a struggle to stay fit, and brings new meaning to the term “jet lag”.
But I love it. And I thank God everyday for the opportunity to see the world, meet rockstars, celebrities, fortune 500 business clientele,and actually make a living doing it.
My hope is that though writing this blog, people reading it will not only gain a better understanding of the logistics of this occupation, but also see and experience the world through my travels.
Due to strict confidentiality agreements and rules, I will always change names or not mention any, when referencing my passengers.
Also, at times my specific whereabouts (hotel names, etc) may be left out as well.
Now, I am sure, after reading the above two sentences, I will still receive the ” who did you fly.” questions… So when I ignore you,please don’t take it personally 🙂
Otherwise, feel free to ask all the questions you want that pertains to the areas I travel, my job related duties, aircrafts I fly on, or even how I deal with life on the road.
With all that said.. Welcome aboard!