Travel comes with some inequities in the travel and tourism industry for people of color. Often that impact is also affected by race and nationality. The reality is that traveling while black comes with some individual challenges. In my travels as a black woman, I have experienced being denied certain privileges because of my race by non-blacks and other people of color. With non-blacks, I have encountered people thinking I am not good enough or entitled to enjoy the same travel experiences. With some people of color, there is sometimes a judgment or derision that I think I am better because I am experiencing certain travel opportunities. Race, nationality, and ethnicity are the realities of traveling while black. Here are my thoughts.
I define EbonyTravelers, as any traveler of color. As someone who has experienced the travel space professionally and personally, I am confident that travelers of color are identified primarily by their race. If someone were to ask me, I would say we are all one race, the human race. However, the reality is that at first sight, I am recognizably a part of what many define as the black race. That racial identity is a part of my reality when I travel because, in many countries, my race often defines me as a minority. Usually, I travel and go into quaint little stores in the tourist areas. Because of my race, I prepare myself to encounter issues from those who may not see me as simply a tourist. I am careful not to put my hands in my pockets or go into my purse, as someone may assume I have taken something. Unfortunately, this experience is a common one for many travelers of color.
With travel, race and nationality are two distinct constructs. Travel identification first comes from one’s passport, which automatically defines nationality. When traveling internationally, one’s identity is often determined by the passport one carries. I travel under an American passport, so my travel identification is based on that nationality. I’ve found that when I identify as an American, even though my black race is apparent, my travel experiences are more favorable.
Ethnicity and nationality are different constructs but sometimes just as important as race and nationality. Ethnicity is related to race and culture. I was born in Barbados, even though I travel under an American passport. The ethnicity of Barbados also includes race, but ethnicity does not seem to be a factor in travel as much as race and nationality. When I travel, it is not until I have conversations with people that my ethnicity is recognized, so I find that it does not often affect my black travel experience.
Regardless of race, nationality, or ethnicity, there is racism in the travel industry, and it affects the experiences of EbonyTravelers. There is often a need to produce more identification and a justification of reason for traveling than other travelers experience. Additionally, people of color are subject to more random searches and checks while traveling than non-blacks.
Despite the realities of traveling while black, I believe there is a need to show the experiences to black travelers more than ever. While there has been a surge in black travelers, there is still a lack of inclusion in mainstream travel advertising. As a result, many people of color are unaware of the many travel experiences they can experience. A more diverse travel perspective needs to be shared so more travelers of color can enjoy the travel experience. Travel makes us better, and the more black people are exposed to travel, the more race, nationality, and ethnicity mean less.
As a former flight attendant, I have seen many travelers take offense to a flight attendant’s request to follow an airline rule. I can honestly say that flight attendants do not try to make passengers unhappy. In contrast, happy passengers make for a comfortable flight for everyone. Flight attendants are simply doing their job, and that job comes with rules and regulations they must follow and ensure that you do as well. Not enforcing the rules exposes flight attendants to fines and loss of employment. Here are a few reasons for the rules some passengers take offense to.
Although it may be comfortable not to wear a seatbelt, there is an excellent reason for ensuring that passengers wear their seatbelts during the flight. One of the most compelling reasons is air turbulence. There are times when turbulence occurs without warning. If this happens and a passenger is not wearing a seatbelt, they can be severely injured or killed. One of the reasons this does not occur often is because flight attendants ensure seatbelts are worn.
Airplane exit seats are desirable because of the extra legroom. However, many passengers conveniently forget that the extra room is there to get people out of the airplane in an emergency quickly. This reason is why young children and disabled people are not allowed to sit in the exit row. Imagine a young child trying to open and throw a 70-pound window exit or someone unable to get out the exit quickly. Flight attendants are required to ask before every flight if a passenger is willing and able to assist in the event of an emergency. Moreover, there is no time to rearrange seats in an emergency. Therefore, even when the exit seat is available, there may be a reason a passenger is unable to sit in it.
The seatbelt sign.
Passengers must be seated before the aircraft can leave the gate and stay seated until the seatbelt sign has been turned off. This rule is not an airline rule but an FAA rule. Although there are rare cases, flights have had to stop on the runway suddenly, and if not seated, passengers can be hurt. In addition, airplanes can occasionally collide, which is another chance for passenger injury. However, these occurrences are rare, and so often, passengers think walking around to be of no danger when that is far from the truth.
Disruptive passengers have become more and more common recently. However, passengers should understand that flight attendants are doing a job that requires them to enforce the rules. Not following these rules can impact passenger safety and jeopardize a flight attendants’ job. Challenging flight attendants on basic rules is simply being rude. By sharing this information, I hope that the reader will be just a bit kinder to flight attendants next time they get on an airplane and merely follow the rules.
When people think of travel, they often have thoughts of all the wonderful things they expect to happen. Suppose it’s a beach vacation; travelers think of sunny beaches and warm waters. If it’s a winter vacation, many will think about the snow and the incredible snow activities. However, for many, vacation expectations can be disappointing and frustrating. These expectations are because social media often only shows picturesque and positive vacation experiences. Therefore, it’s best always to have an open mind when traveling and expect the unexpected. Here are a few things that could go wrong despite all your best-made travel plans.
Even though travelers may have booked their flights in advance and know the time guidelines for getting to the airport before a flight, many still miss their flights. Reasons from waking up too late, confusing am times with pm times, long TSA lines, or leaving items at home are common. It’s always best to prepare and do prechecks the day before departure to ensure none of these scenarios is a factor for your travel plans.
Many people do not have a passport, but many of those who do, have passports that have been expired or are very close to being expired. International travel requires having at least six months validity. Many travelers take the time to plan and pay for their trip then get to the airport with an expired passport. An expired passport is a traveler’s self-inflicted wound; all related expenses are at the traveler’s cost. If you plan to travel internationally, check your passport’s expiration date before booking your flight.
Getting sick is probably one of the most common realities of traveling. Most often, travelers get sick from consuming contaminated food or water. However, many often get overexposed to the sun and get sunburnt or are bitten by insects. Travel, in general, puts us more at risk for sickness as we most often travel to places with persons we are not familiar with. Traveling by air puts us in close contact with people we don’t know, and the airplanes’ recirculated air makes encountering germs more possible. If you plan to travel, take precautions like staying hydrated and getting enough sleep. In addition, traveling with some medicines to combat minor sicknesses is highly recommended.
When traveling, it’s not uncommon to lose personal items. Items such as passports, mobile phones, losing your wallet or purse, losing luggage, and forgetting to pack certain items are common occurrences for many travelers. Often, we are so caught up in our new surroundings that we forget our belongings. It’s best to be organized when you travel. Use packing lists if you must and keep copies of your important documents like passports, credit cards, and reservations. If you lose your electronics or wallet, you can more easily make reports if you have more than one way to access your information.
I hope you never experience the unexpected when you travel, but I want to make sure you are prepared if you do. Have you ever experienced any of these scenarios? If so, how did you handle it? Please let me know in the comment section below.
Traveling expands your life more than anything else, whether domestically or internally. The US is a beautiful country, and there is plenty to see and do, but if you want to travel internationally, you must have a US passport. If you already have a US passport, take a minute to check its expiration date. You must have at least six months of validity on your passport to travel. If you don’t already have a US passport, here are the steps to making sure you have one.
The first step.
If this is your first time applying for a passport, you must apply in person. You can find an application on the US Department of State website that can be downloaded in a PDF or filled out and downloaded online. In addition to the application, you will need proof of citizenship, an original ID and a copy, a recent photo, and payment. If you renew your passport, you can complete the process online unless you are under 16, you got your passport when you were under 16, your passport was lost, stolen, or damaged, or if your passport was issued more than 15 years ago.
The first step in getting information for your passport is looking up the US Department of State, travel.state.gov. Here you will find all the information on what to expect if you are applying for your first passport, renewing your passport, or need to get an appointment at a passport agency. Many services will charge you a fee to process the passport application, but the application is simple and requires the same information you would provide to a service.
Due to Covid, the timing to receive your passport varies. The Department of State website currently estimates 8 to 11 weeks for a routine application. You can have an expedited service; the timing is at 5 to 7 weeks. To get a passport within three days for a life-or-death emergency, you must have an international travel itinerary within three days, and you must complete the application at an agency by appointment only.
Passport fees for an applicant over 16 are currently $130 for a passport book and $30 for a passport card. If the applicant is under 16, the price for the passport book is $100, and the passport card is $15. To get your passport faster, you can pay $60 for an expedited fee. There is also an option for quick delivery by first-class mail for $18.32 to have your passport delivered in 1 to 2 days after the passport has is ready for delivery. Payments can be by c personal, certified, cashiers, or travelers check. You can use credit and debit cards except for expedited services. Always check with the agency to confirm payment options.
Whether you plan to travel or not, I highly suggest getting your passport. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. In addition, consider a passport card. It’s better to walk around with your passport card than your actual passport. I hope this information helps and encourages you to either get your passport or make sure it’s valid or renewed. Please let me know if you find this information helpful.
I recently read a recent article about someone finding their packed luggage filled with Christmas gifts, stolen, and replaced with trash and dog food. I don’t know the facts of the situation, but the story made the news. I have heard of items missing from luggage and even had my misplaced baggage issues. Here are a few tips to help you with lost luggage or missing items from your checked baggage.
Lock your luggage.
From the time you hand your luggage off when checking in for your flight, it goes through many different hands. The reality is that not all those hands are honest. Travelers should think about what items they place in their luggage and if they are willing to face the reality of not all their packed luggage being returned to them.
Use a TSA lock.
Baggage goes through a lot of screening behind the scenes. Travelers should always use a TSA-compatible lock. If your luggage is selected for screening, TSA agents will be able to open your baggage without breaking the lock. It is within their rights for TSA agents to break nonTSA compatible locks, even locks built into the luggage if chosen for extra screening.
Have your luggage stand out.
Yes, many bags look alike, and bags are often mistaken by an honest mistake. The chances of someone walking off with a brightly colored bag or a bag with clearly distinguishable stickers is much lower than a standard piece of black luggage. It’s best to have a unique way to recognize your luggage instantly. Try to find a quirky bag tag or brightly colored ribbon to attach to your luggage and make it easily identifiable.
Leave valuables at home.
Within the fine prints of the airline ticket is the fact that, in many cases, the airline is not liable to replace all the items that may have gone missing from your luggage. Many US airlines only provide an average of $3,000. for lost, damaged, or delayed baggage. In some cases, the limits can be as low as $1,500. per checked bag. Additionally, electronics, cameras, jewelry, and computers, are not covered by most airlines.
Many travelers’ insurance or even homeowners’ insurance can cover lost or damaged luggage. In addition, certain credit cards will provide limited coverage for lost or damaged items if used when purchasing from the airline. Some airlines will sell excess valuation coverage that may increase the compensation they will provide. It’s best to have travel insurance and ensure it covers loss or missing luggage.
There’s not much that travelers can do once their luggage is lost or misplaced. Taking photographs of your items beforehand might help when filing a claim, but few people do so. Even fewer people keep a record of the things they pack. Have you ever had items from your luggage lost or missing? I’d like to know. Comment below.
I recently wrote about theft on an airplane and got so many responses. Today I’d like to discuss another aspect of air travel many do not consider. As flight attendants, we knew to look out for the warning signs of drug mules, excessive sweating, refusal to eat or drink, or acting nervous. I recently saw a post on social media where a lady shared the story of her interaction with a drug mule. I like to write short insightful pieces, but I had to share this as is. This story is not my story, but I am sharing it because it is accurate and does happen.
COPIED (As was written by the unknown author without correction)
If you travel by air a lot, beware of over friendly chatty seat neighbours.
The older lady comes and sits next to me inside the plane. She asked me to help her put her bag in the overhead luggage compartment. But a gentleman sitting across quickly came through. (I am not very tall and the overhead luggage compartment is something I try to avoid at all costs.
Immediately she sits down she strikes up a conversation. She was very pleasant and well spoken. So we chatted all through the flight to Dubai.
Suddenly, when the pilot announced that we were now proceeding to begin our descent into DXB, my good friend ‘developed’ stomach pains. Me with my good heart, I pressed the stewards button, and the stewardess came to find out what the problem was. I told her my seat mate was not feeling well. And this lady, she suddenly began to address me as ‘my daughter’. The stewardess told me that there was nothing they could do except give her some painkillers and wait until we landed. The pilot announced that we had a medical emergency on board and advised us all to stay calm. My new friend was crying and sweating like crazy. And she refused to let go of my hand… everyone assumed we knew each other.
So we landed at DXB and the same gentleman who helped put up her luggage in the overhead compartment removed her luggage. But as he removed the luggage, he advised me to distance myself from this lady and make it clear to the cabin crew that we were NOT travelling together. He was a godsend!
So indeed, the cabin crew came and asked me if we were related, I categorically told them we had met on the plane. I didn’t know her at all. So we began to deplane and as I said goodbye she kept begging me to carry her handbag. I was so torn… but the gentleman looked me in the eye and emphatically shook his head. He passed me a note telling me to let the cabin crew handle her.
So I exit the aircraft and leave my ‘new friend’ to wait for the wheelchair and be handled by the cabin crew feeling very guilty.
As we waited for our luggage to come through, I hear this commotion. My ‘new friend’ was running, trying to escape the cabin crew, having gotten out of the wheelchair! She left the stewardess with her handbag and just ran towards the exit with the rest of her hand luggage! Luckily the airport police were faster than her. They got hold of her and brought her back in handcuffs.
This lady starts calling out to me.. my daughter… my daughter!.. how could you do this to me….. that’s when I caught on. She was carrying drugs and she was trying to implicate me!
Luckily for me, the gentleman who had helped her with her luggage came forward and told the airport police that me and her had just met on the plane. The police took my passport and asked her to reveal my full names if it was true we were travelling together. By God’s grace, I had not even told her my first name! I was still asked to follow the police to a little room where I was questioned extensively. Where did I meet her?… where did I board… where did she board. Etc… And my luggage was extensively searched and dusted for fingerprints.
They dusted all her luggage and my fingerprints were not found anywhere on her luggage or on her handbag!
I was let go with advice never ever to touch anyone’s luggage either in flight or at the airport. So from that day, I don’t care how much luggage you have, you will deal with it yourself. I will not even offer you a trolley to put your luggage on! Your luggage… your problem…. is my policy. And if you can’t reach the overhead compartment, and I am the nearest person, please call the cabin crew because all I will do is give you a blank stare and then look away!
A lesson to glean therein for intending air travelers.
Just as I wrote about theft on the airplane, I could not have relayed the dangers of being too friendly more pointedly. Travelers should be relaxed and have fun, be nice, but most of all, be cautious. I hope this story opens your eyes a bit.