9/11 As A Flight Attendant

Monday, September 11, 2017

On September 11, 2001 I was an eleven year old homeschooler who was excited that we were getting satellite TV at my house in rural Vermont. 
Cable TV didn't reach that far (it still doesn't), and I was excited to be able to watch the History Channel, MTV, and Disney Channel Original Movies. 

The first thing we watched with our new TV was airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. 

Like most Americans, I remember that day with absolute clarity, but as a kid, you can't appreciate the magnitude of a moment like that in history. 
I knew something horrible had happened. I knew the adults around me were shocked and horrified. 
But I just didn't have the perspective to understand the ramifications of what was unfolding that day. Did anyone, really?

For the next 14 years, 9/11 was a horrifying moment in history that changed the world and devastated the lives of innocent people, but it felt far away from my life in rural Northern Vermont. 

Then I became a Flight Attendant. 

I remember so clearly seeing the memorial to the American Airlines Flight Crews at our training center in Dallas while I was there learning how to do this job. 
It hit me that if these people hadn't been murdered, they would have been my co-workers. 

Between that memorial and the security procedures we learned and constantly practiced, 9/11 didn't seem like a far away historical event anymore. 
It became something that had happened to my airline. 
To my colleagues. 
It became something that I had a personal responsibility to prevent from ever happening again. 

As a passenger, you just have no idea the steps Flight Attendants take every minute of every flight to keep you safe, whether it's from turbulence, dehydration, or a terrorist attack. 

On 9/11/2001 the Flight Attendants were the first of the First Responders who tried to save lives that day. 
They tried to stop the hijackers. 
They called the ground to warn people. 
They knew what was happening and they. fought. back. 

Every single day, Flight Attendants save lives in the air and on the ground. 
It's what we're trained for. 
It's our job. 

Too often, passengers are completely disrespectful towards us when we enforce the rules and follow the procedures that are in place to keep you all safe. 
Once, I even got yelled at by a passengers for following anti-hijacking procedures. 
He thought his drink was more important than the safety of everyone on our aircraft. 

Flight Attendants and Pilots think about September 11th every single day. 
When Come From Away came out, I was delighted as a fan of musical theatre, but I was more delighted as a Flight Attendant. It felt like people were paying attention to the day that changed everything. 

So many people lost loved ones on that day and in the weeks, months, and years after as a result. 
So many acts of heroism were performed by everyday people. 

But it was the flight crews and the passengers who were the first to respond and the first to perish. 

Every day I step on an airplane, I am prepared to sacrifice my own safety to protect my passengers and to protect people on the ground. 
We know the risks, and we do this job anyway. 
I am extremely proud to be a Flight Attendant. 

So the next time you fly, bring a thank you note for your flight crew to show your appreciation for the hard work they do to keep you safe. 
Even better, just do what we ask you to, in the air and on the ground. 
But most of all, remember the courage and heroism of Flight Attendants like Betty Ong and read the stories of who they were and how they lived.

Beautycounter: Why I'm In

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I am a fairly skeptical person. 

When I was going through sorority recruitment years ago, I was just WAITING for someone to try to haze me because I had heard all the rumors and I was ready to be a whistle blower. 

The hazing never actually happened and I ended up with a group of sisters for life.
Chi O till I die-o. 

I tend to approach situations optimistically, but with my eyes wide open. 
Not everything that glitters is gold, or even a good AB rhinestone. 

So when my pal/hero Kristin Ingram (Miss Virginia 2005) started promoting this company called Beautycounter I was mildly interested (because she IS SO COOL YOU GUYS) but mostly skeptical. 

I assumed that it was like most other sell-from-home makeup/skincare companies: possibly a pyramid scheme, with products that are just OK but definitely not as good as what I could find elsewhere. 

Well. I was wrong. 

I suspended my skepticism long enough to actually have an open mind and learn about the company.
I was impressed by what I heard. 

I heard about a company committed to getting safer, effective, high quality products on the market AND committed to advocating for change in the cosmetics industry.
Beautycounter cosmetics, skin care, and other products are free of 1,500 toxic chemicals that can have an adverse impact on your health. 

Product safety is a women's rights issue. 
Women use the vast majority of personal care products: toiletries, skin care, and cosmetics. 
In the European Union, there are over 1,300 chemicals that have been banned from use in the formulas of personal care products. 
The United States has partially banned only 30 of those harmful and potentially toxic chemicals. 

It is so icky to think about, but everything you put on your skin seeps into your body.

For a while I just chose to ignore this fact. 
Everything causes cancer these days, right? 

But I've reached a point in my life where having kids sometime in the next decade is a tangible concept, and I'd like to do what I can to keep myself healthy for that whole... thing.

You know, possible pregnancy and motherhood. 
(Ick, but like, also babies are cute.)

There's really no rush. Seriously. But still. Eventually.

I've tried a few "clean" or "honest" products here and there, but I'd mostly given up on it because they just weren't quality skincare products. 
They didn't work, or worse, I had an allergic reaction to them. 

So even after I was impressed by everything I learned about Beautycounter as a company, I held off buying anything until I actually tried the products. 

Kristi mailed me some samples and as soon as I put them on my face I knew I was a goner. 

You guys, these products are outstanding.

Seriously, my biggest hangup about using products sold by independent consultants in the past has been the quality and the effectiveness. 
I've tried products in the past that have been just ok, but I could easily get something better at a nearby beauty supply store or in Europe on a layover.

This is different.

The one that really sold me on the whole line is the Cleansing Balm

I've used a few fantastic cleansing balms or oil cleansers in the past, but they were either too expensive (think $135 for a single tub) or I just wasn't sure exactly what was in them and that skeeved me out a little bit. 

This balm blew all of them out of the water. (heh)
Figuring (correctly) that it would be a perfect addition to my ten step skin care routine
I tested it by using it to wash my face AFTER I'd already used my normal cleanser, and it removed makeup traces I didn't even know existed. 
My washcloth was covered in grime that I normally would have just LEFT ON MY FACE. 
I was instantly impressed by Beautycounter skin care. Boom. 

So I was all "KRISTI SIGN ME UP FOR EVERYTHING" and then my bank account was like "CALM DOWN AND DO THIS THE SMART WAY".

And so, as of today I can hook you up with outstanding products (that are free of 1,500 harmful chemicals) as a Beautycounter Consultant. 

For those of you keeping score in the back, yes, I now have three jobs AND I help my mom with her businesses AND I do a little bit of volunteer work on the side. Oh, and I cross stitch. And take in special needs dogs. And somehow have a boyfriend who still wants to hang out with me.
Even my side hustles have side hustles. 
#MillennialLife amirite??

But I'm SO impressed by these products and by the mission of this company that I'm willing to make room in my life for this ONE MORE THING. 

So come at me, y'all.

If you've already heard about Beautycounter, maybe through their partnerships with Target, J Crew, or goop, and you've been wondering where to buy Beautycounter products, look no further!

I'm ready to help you get your hands on some outstanding products.
If you're unsure until you try a sample, hit me up and I'll hook you up.
And speaking of hook ups, if you want some free/discounted products there are ways to make that happen too.

Click here to visit the Beautycounter website and get your hand on the products ASAP!

Here we go!

Summer Flying: Tips for Infrequent Flyers

Thursday, July 20, 2017

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times: Summer. Flying. 

During the summer months, people tend to go on vacation more. In response to this trend, airlines have more available flights and they often sell tickets at cheaper rates. 

Additionally, more of my coworkers go on vacations as well, leaving their trips to Junior Reserves like me so I end up working my hiney off (while wearing a wool uniform) during the hottest months of the year. The good news is that I get to make more money. The bad news is that I AM VERY TIRED. 
Seriously, Summer Flying has me waking up at 2am for flights some days, 6pm other days, and criss crossing time zones like it's my job. 

But wait. It's literally my job. 

"More people, more problems" is never truer than during June, July, and August, when the temperatures rise and so do the number of people on our aircraft who have no idea how to handle riding on a plane. Couple that with the inevitable summer storms that wreak havoc on base operations for many major airlines, and you've got yourself a perfect storm. (heh)

Summer flyers tend to be less experienced with air travel- maybe you only fly a couple of times a year for that big vacation, and THIS IS IT. 
There's absolutely nothing wrong with that! Thank you for buying a plane ticket and helping to keep me employed! I'm really glad you're here. 


There are a few basic things that you can do to maintain your sanity AND help your flight crews love you as you go on your summertime adventures, and luckily for you I'm sharing those tips with you today. 

Five Tips for Infrequent Travelers:

1. Plan for things to go wrong. 

Your flight will get delayed and cause you to miss your connection. There will be no outlets on the plane.  The lines will be long at security, getting food, or for the bathroom. 
One of the worst parts of air travel is that NOTHING is within your control - except how well you prepare for the inevitable. 
Get to the airport at least two hours before your flight.
Carry snacks with you.
Pack whatever items you might need for a surprise overnight in your personal item. Try to avoid checking a bag.
Bring an external battery like this one: iJoy Portable Charger Ultra-Slim 10000mAh Power 10K Power Bank (Green).

I understand how frustrating it is to get trapped or stranded in an airport due to circumstances beyond your control- it has happened to me many many times.
I get how enraging it is to miss out on things at your destination that you were supposed to be participating in.
But please, keep your cool and be polite to the airline employees. 99% of the time what has happened to you is out of their control too. We WANT you to get to your destination. Please be polite and calm, and remember that everyone you're dealing with is just a human being.

2. DO NOT ask your Flight Attendant "What do you have?"

There is a menu in the setback pocket in front of you.
Or just order what you would always order on the ground.
Or order what you really should anyway: water, no ice.
(Or wine. I'm for it.)
Say please when you make your request.
Say thank you when it's handed to you.
It's that simple.

3. DO NOT ask your Flight Attendant for a blanket!

Airplanes are air-conditioned on the ground and it is COLD when we get up to 30,000 feet in the air.
Don't wear a tank top and shorts and then ask me for something to help you stay warm.
No matter the season, dress in layers to fly. I never ever ever fly in shorts or a short skirt because I know I will freeze and practically get hypothermia. Don't dress for the five minute walk from the car to security, dress for the airplane you're going to spend six hours on. Pro tip: keep a handy cotton scarf like this one with you whenever you travel:

4. Download the app for the airline you're flying.

Seriously you guys, the airline I work for has the most useful app.
You can track your bags, monitor gate changes and flight delays, and even pull up maps of various airport terminals so you can figure out how to get from gate A22 to gate F19. It's even free to use with our in flight wifi.
This way you can avoid asking your flight attendants questions like "Am I going to make my connection?" to which our answer (or at least the truthful answer) is ALWAYS "I don't know."
We aren't psychic. We aren't omnipotent. 
Use the app to check you inbound arrival time and the departure time of your connection. Technology is good.

5. Please don't use the bathroom while the seat belt sign is on.

Guys, following lighted and posted signs on an aircraft is literally the law. Additionally, if the seatbelt sign is on it's probably because we've just taken off, we're expecting turbulence, or we're about to land. In all of those circumstances it is REALLY DANGEROUS for you to be out of your seat. 
Go to the bathroom in the terminal before the flight. Use the lavatory when the sign is off, even if it's not a pressing issue.
Don't get out of your seat when the plane is taxiing on the ground. If we're about to take off, you could cost us our place in line for takeoff. If we've just landed you could get seriously injured if we hit a bump or stop suddenly. Just the other day we had almost reached the gate and the pilots had to suddenly hit the brakes hard. All the passengers who had undone their seatbelts smacked their heads on the seat in front of them and felt very foolish.
And on that note, if you see flight attendants sitting in their jumpseats you should most definitely be sitting in your seat.

Let's all fly smart this summer! 

How to Give the Best Wedding Speech

Monday, June 5, 2017

All wedding speeches/toasts fall into one of these categories:

1. Hot mess.
The speech giver decided to wing it, downed a few shots, and/or it's unbearably raunchy.

Please let this end.

2. Boring.
Cliche. Blah. Cringe. Is he still talking?

3. Thank goodness that's over.
"Well, at least she tried."

4. Delightful.
Short, sweet, heartfelt, effective.

5. Brilliant.

Public speaking freaks people out, so it's understandable that sometimes people fall into one (or more) of the first three categories. 

You want your toast to be a four or a five, so let's make it happen.

Look, the reality is that not all of us can or should deliver a speech in the form of a rap, or a Disney song medley, so here's a basic formula for a speech that will take you from a 1 to at least a 4. 

(For the purposes of this example, let's assume you're making a speech on behalf of a bride.)

A Formula for a Solid Wedding Speech:

Introduce yourself and your role at the wedding.
Explain how you met the bride as briefly as possible.
Share a quick anecdote that showcases an excellent part of the bride's personality.
Share how the bride's new spouse brings that excellent thing out in her.
Share a story of the two of them together that exemplifies why they're a great fit as a couple.
If appropriate, add a quote or traditional proverb.
Finish strong with something simple like "To the happy couple!" 

Obviously if you're an experienced pro, add in some jokes (as long as they're rated G) and references to things the couple loves. Personalize it. 

Most importantly: write a speech that is focused on the couple you're celebrating. 
This is their day to shine together.

Have questions? Feel like you need some coaching on speech content or delivery? 


Ten Tips for New Hire Flight Attendants

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Last week, my base welcomed our first round of New Hires in almost two years. 
Those of us at the bottom of the seniority ladder are SO EXCITED they're here. 
These new kids improve our chances of holding weekends off, getting trips we want, and they bump us up closer to the mythical "line holder" seniority level we've been dreaming of for two years. 

Ten Tips for New Hire Flight Attendants:

1. Get a distinctive ringtone for Crew Scheduling.

I went with the theme from "Archer" because it always feels like they're sending me on missions. The downside is that I now can't watch Archer without having a mini panic attack when the theme plays. Chose a ringtone or song that you don't mind ruining as an anxiety trigger for the rest of your life.

2. Be physically active.

The thing that surprised me the most when I started this job was just how physical it is. Walking miles dragging bags in high heels, lifting bags, hauling 300lb carts, getting down on the ground to fix things, and more. That activity plus the sheer physical task of traveling all. the. time. makes this job a very physically tasking one.
When you factor in the physical requirements of an emergency situation on top of the day to day haul, you need to be physically fit to do this job well.
Get some cardio in at the hotel gym, eat fruits and vegetables (that have not been fried), and get as much walking in as possible during your layovers.

3. Explore new things during your layovers and in your base.

You need to make sleep a priority, but when you're in a new city you should get out and EXPLORE! My go-to move is getting to the hotel, changing into a weather appropriate outfit, and using Yelp to find a place to get some good food within a mile or two of my hotel. I'll then map walking directions to that food place. Depending on the area, I'll check with the front desk of the hotel to see if the route is safe and walkable, and then I venture out! 
Tip: to look like a local instead of a tourist, pop some headphones in, but keep the volume low enough that you can still clearly hear everything going on around you. 

In your new base, ask co-workers where you should live/eat/play and don't be afraid to use modern technology to help! I picked up a nice young man on my second night in Philly thanks to a popular dating app, and now we've been dating for two years. There are multiple apps to help you make new friends in cities too!

One of my goals for 2017 is to eat Ramen in every city possible.

4. Try to save a little money for the slower months.

During the summer we fly more and therefore make more money. During the winter months there are fewer flights and less money. Plan accordingly.

5. Download your monthly schedules at the end of the month.

For tax purposes, you need to know every single layover you had all year. The simplest way is to just keep track every single month.

6. Always screenshot your pairing/sequence at the start of a trip.

Sometimes Crew Scheduling likes to pull some shady stuff. Make sure you have a record of what you were actually assigned so that you can pay claim/ sort things out.

7. Learn your computer system and your contract inside and out.

Crew Schedulers are human. They make mistakes just like we all do. They'll try to give you trips you're illegal for. They'll try to assign things out of order, simply because they don't know any better.
Be ready to question things respectfully by asking what page of your contract allows what's happening. If something seems incorrect, ask about it! Know how to use your computer system to bid

8. Create a packing system that works for you. 

You will lose your mind and all your stuff if you don't have a place for everything so that you can make sure everything is in it's place before you check out of your hotel room.
I have some suggestions for how to make that happen as a Flight Attendant.

9. Rely on your co-workers and ASK QUESTIONS if you aren't sure about something.

We all remember our first working flight. We all remember what it was like to feel unsure. Ask other flight attendants for help or to explain things to you if you're confused. Whether that's on the aircraft, in the galley, in the crew room, in a briefing, or at home when scheduling assigns you something that doesn't feel right. Use your resources! Reach out to your coworkers on Facebook if you can't find one nearby in person- there are so many people who will help you get this right. Just please don't bring your notes from training on your first flight. You'll look like a dork.

10. You are not alone, this is an overwhelming life change.

Becoming a Flight Attendant isn't just starting a new job. It's starting a new job in a new city, away from your support system at home, in a high pressure environment, where people's lives are in your hands. To top it off, you're never sure where you'll be when and you're constantly in motion. 
Everything feels strange and new and exciting, but it can also produce a lot of anxiety and sadness.

This is a big deal. It can be really hard, but you aren't alone. Every single FA flying has been through what you're going through.
Don't be afraid to reach out to your friends or to senior flight attendants to ask for advice or help.
We want you to succeed and we want you to flourish- we're a family connected by wings. 

A Weekend in Ireland

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Two years ago, when I first started my job as a Flight Attendant, the very first trip I was assigned to work was Dublin. 
When Scheduling called me, I was asleep. When I heard the word "Dublin" I asked "Like....Dublin, Ohio?" confused, because as far as I knew Dublin, Ohio doesn't have an airport and I also couldn't fathom getting sent to IRELAND for my first work trip. 

I had a great crew and had a lovely time. It was a phenomenal first trip, especially as I'd never  been to Ireland before. 

This weekend I returned to the country with my lovely partner in tow, and we had a wonderful time!

We left Philly on Thursday night, landed at Shannon airport on Friday morning, rented a car and drove straight to the Cliffs of Moher. 

After spending a few hours at the Cliffs, we continued on to Galway, where we stayed with a very generous friend of Martin's who also happens to be an Archaeologist there.
(SO COOL, right?!?!?)
Friday night and Saturday we were shown around Galway by an expert tour guide/ archaeologist, and on Sunday we got up bright and early to head back to Shannon for our flight home. 

It was definitely a whirlwind adventure, and I wouldn't recommend it for less experienced travelers, but Martin and I are old pros so it suited us just fine. 

A few observations and a list of things I learned on this visit:

1. Flying in and out of Shannon was SUPER simple. DO IT.
Shannon is a much smaller airport in a much smaller city than Dublin. If you're adventuring on your own rather than with a tour group, that can make your life a LOT easier. Customs lines are shorter when you arrive and when you leave.

2. Renting a car was straightforward, and driving on the "wrong" side of the road was fairly easy.
Let me be clear, Martin did all of the driving because the car had a manual transmission and I can't drive stick shift, no matter which side of the road we're supposed to be on. 
 The hardest part was how NARROW the roads were. 
It was worth it to be able to set our own schedule and not have to rely on busses to get everywhere we needed to go. It was also less expensive than buying bus tickets for two adults everywhere.

3. Americans were EVERYWHERE.
There are SO many cultural connections between the United States and Ireland that this shouldn't be surprising, but WOW. So. Many. Americans.

4. Everyone was SO NICE.
Seriously, from the car rental people to the bar tenders to the random strangers we befriended at pubs, everyone was so friendly and pleasant through the trip. 

5. Ireland is super obsessed with JFK.
There were tributes to President Kennedy everywhere we went. In the airport, in the Claddagh Museum, on street corners, in Galway Cathedral. EVERYWHERE. 
Now, I have a working knowledge of the relevant history here, but I was still surprised by the degree to which Ireland showed the love for "their" US President. As a New Englander and as a Democrat, it kind of felt like running into an old friend every time we'd stumble across a tribute to him.

6. Everyone has a cousin or five on the East Coast, and everyone loves Boston.
Usually when I travel, no one has any idea where Vermont is. In Ireland, most locals we met had a working knowledge of the geography of the East Coast AND they'd visited Boston. 
Everybody we met there just loves Bean Town. 

7. The food was AMAZING. 
Everything I ate was delicious. I had amazing fish chowder and then the best gin flavored ice cream. The end.

Contemplating the delicious Fish Chowder I had just eaten.

8. Ireland is the most castleated country in the world.
Ireland has more castles than anywhere else. Our resident archaeologist pal taught us that this is because land inheritance worked slightly differently in Ireland than in other countries with castles. *coughUKcough*

Ruined castles are so gorgeous.

9. Everything was SO FREAKING SCENIC.
It was beautiful. It was adorable. It was charming. It was majestic. 
We couldn't get over how lovely everything was.

10. Ireland is FUN. 
Altogether, we just had so much FUN in Ireland. Everything combined to make our trip a blast, and we just had the BEST weekend. 
Special shoutout to tour guide extraordinaire Jay Hall for his expertise and hosting! All of his roommates and friends made us feel so welcome. Thanks Jay!

When he's not participating in archaeological digs, Jay has been working in an antique book warehouse. We got to visit that too and I almost lost my mind. 



Sometimes your boyfriend GIFs you walking home from the pub in the rain. 

A Professional Bridesmaid

Friday, May 12, 2017

For the past decade or so, I've worked events. 
My mom has two inns/event venues in Northern Vermont, in college I worked as an event coordinator for a local gallery, and then there's the constant political/non-profit work... plus, all my friends keep getting married. 

I've been a bridesmaid in a Gatsby Theme wedding in Scotland. 
I've been a bridesmaid in my ex-husband's ex-girlfriend's wedding in Arkansas. 
(Yes, that story is as good as you think it is. The short version is that females are strong as hell.)
I've been a pre-ceremony announcer, an impromptu DJ, a flower girl wrangler, a day-of coordinator, a Bride's Enforcer, and I recently booked my first gig as a wedding officiant. 
Oh, and I even got married that one time too. 

Our dear friends Mark and Marleigh got married last week, and it seemed like a good time to slap a label on what I've been doing casually for a long time: being A Professional Bridesmaid. 

Essentially, I want to offer more broadly what I've been doing for my friends for years- help with wedding planning, resources, and coordination. 

I just think it's the weirdest thing that our wedding culture tells us that when a ring is put on your finger, it instantly imparts all the knowledge necessary to execute a "perfect" wedding day. 
Oh, and that perfect wedding day had better involve a trendy-but-also-timeless wedding color scheme, an open bar, and six creative uses of burlap. 

Photo Credit: Lauren Brimhall Photography

You know what makes a wedding perfect? 
Two people in love get married. 

But it's never that simple, is it? 
Society and family put so much pressure on what you "should" do, on what you're "supposed" to do, that it can often take the joy right out of marrying your person. 

Having help from someone with experience, knowledge, and a practical perspective will save you so much time, stress, and money. 

Photo Credit: Lauren Brimhall Photography

I am not a wedding planner. 
I don't want to design your event for you. I don't want to craft your center pieces. 
I want to empower you to make the best choices for your wedding, to the best choices for your role in someone else's wedding. 

Then on the day of your wedding, I want you to have all the tools to have a joy-filled and minimally stressful experience. 

Whether that means I'm there in person to answer last minute questions from your vendors and your great Aunt Susan, or that means I've made you a phenomenally detailed wedding day timeline, you deserve to be relaxed on the day you commit your life to another human being. 

The packages I've put together start at $15 for some quick answers, and they go all the way up to me putting on a chiffon dress and being in your wedding photos. Whatever you need, friend. 

If you're planning a wedding, if you're about to be a bridesmaid, or if you've got wedding questions, hit me up: caroline@aprofessionalbridesmaid.com 

Tell your friends. 
This is going to be a good time.