Travelers Beware-Drug mules.

Travelers Beware-Drug mules.

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.

COPIED.

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.

Being a “different” traveler.

Being a “different” traveler.

As a person of color, being seen as a “different” traveler is not a novel experience. Having “locs” (or dreadlocks as they are commonly referred to) and being able to occupy spaces where people of color are not normally seen makes me appear different to many and sparks curiosity. I’ve learned to embrace being different and to see it as a positive experience. Here are five ways you can make your presence as a different traveler a more pleasurable experience.

1.Smile. Even in the face of obvious displeasure, it throws off those who tend to see you differently. It takes less energy to smile than it takes to frown and often gives you a sense of power not expected. Most people can’t help but wonder why you are smiling when they think you should not be. Positivity wins every time.

2.Embrace being the object of attention. This is yet another way to remain positive in the face of being made to feel different. Enjoy reading or listening to a book, or watching a movie, if you prefer solitude. Sooner or later, your comfortability appearance will actually become real, and you won’t even notice the looks.

3.Be open to curiosity. I have found that being open to having conversations or answering queries that respect my boundaries to be more informative than invasive. I have had many conversations about my hair and have learned to embrace curiosity to teach my culture to people.

4.Embrace being different and love the skin you’re in. No two people are the same, and everywhere you go, whether the destination is local or international, you will be different from the people surrounding you, be it in features or culture.

5.Know that just as you seek to gain new experiences and knowledge by traveling, many others are doing the same. Traveling opens us up to new worlds, and to many, we as travelers are part of their experience. An open mind is the best luggage you can carry.

Have you experienced being a “different” traveler? Has it been a positive or negative experience? I’d like to know.

5 Flight attendant annoyances

5 Flight attendant annoyances

There are many things that flight attendants find annoying. Some are more annoying than others, and some may not be an annoyance based on the individual flight attendant. The following are some that I still remember as being annoying to me. For disclosure, these are from my lived experience as a flight attendant.

1.Coffee: Having been raised and based in New York as a flight attendant, if a passenger said, “regular coffee,” I understood it to mean coffee with milk and sugar. If they said, “light and sweet,” I like most flight attendants had no idea how light to make the coffee or how many sugar packets the passenger needed. Some passengers meant just a drop of milk, and others wanted half milk, half coffee. Deciding how many packs of sugar meant sweet to a person you’d never met was a pointless guess at best. Like passengers, flight attendants are people from all over the country and the world; knowing each passenger’s specific coffee requirements was most times an exercise in futility.

2.Aisle Passengers. Most passengers prefer aisle seats because of the ability to have a little extra room. This preference was often a perception that overlooked the fact that the aisle they assumed to be extra space was the flight attendant’s working space. Airline service carts could be a hundred pounds or more and somewhat challenging to maneuver. Weighted down with beverages or food to serve the number of people on board, often proved a challenge for a flight attendant to operate. Aisle passengers often extended their body parts into the aisle, and it was not uncommon for the cart to inadvertently hit a passenger. In many cases, the passenger got angry at the flight attendant without considering that the service cart was at least 3 feet long and even higher. Hence, the flight attendant seeing over the cart, and the extended body part was unreasonable at best.

3.Touching. Passengers often think it is ok to touch or poke a flight attendant to get their attention, which is often very annoying to flight attendants. A flight attendant call light is within every passenger’s reaching distance, and using this is much preferable than to be poked. Moreover, a hand wave or similar gesture is universal regardless of language. Having your body nudged several times a flight could be rather annoying.

4.Lavatory doors. They are not automatic, and standing in front of them will not make them open. Often passengers would stand in the lavatory area waiting for flight attendant instructions on how to open the door or be told whether it was vacant or not. Bathroom doors, like every other bathroom door elsewhere, has a lock. Unlike most bathrooms, airplane bathrooms have instructions, and most often, if not in the native language, there is visual signage. Along with signage, airline lavatories also have an occupied/unoccupied sign, which in most cases are red and green and are universally understood to mean the same everywhere. To be seen as a bathroom attendant is very frustrating to flight attendants.

5.Asking “where are we?” Flight attendants walk up and down the aisle, usually positioned several feet above the window level. Furthermore, like most passengers, they cannot pinpoint locations 30,000 feet above the ground. Yes, several landmarks are apparent to some, but flight attendants do not have the luxury of sitting and looking out the window on flights, nor do they have an inner GPS. Your guess is as good as theirs.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse behind the scenes. These are perceptions of my lived and actual experience as a flight attendant. I hope they’ve been eye-opening and will make for more happy travels.

5 Covid friendly hotel stay tips.

5 Covid friendly hotel stay tips.

Having flown as a career for over 20 years I have stayed in many hotel rooms and so the experience has taught me a lot about what to look out for in terms of cleanliness.

1. Check the hotel sheets. No one wants to sleep on possible dirty covid sheets. I can’t tell you how many different times I have gone into a hotel room just dying to shower and get into bed and found that the sheets have not been changed. If you do this when you first get into the hotel room, there is plenty of opportunity for the hotel to fix the issue before you are ready to go to bed.

2. Make sure the sheets are visibly dirty before you check out of the hotel and prevent any possible Covid spread. I think it’s just a matter of kindness to the next guest and just plain hygienic. Don’t feel bad as the hotel should automatically be doing this anyhow. I always wiped the bottom of my shoe across the sheets before I checked out.

3.Place a face towel or hand towel on the bathroom counter to place all your items on. Especially in this time of covid you do not want to transfer any germs to your face or hands. It’s also a visual reminder of anything placed on the counter and it helps in not forgetting items like jewelry in the bathroom.

4. Take an extra washcloth and wipe the toilet seats down. I think we all assume that the hotel room has been cleaned thoroughly but my experience has shown that the toilet seat is often overlooked.

5. Treat hotel room floors like airplane bathrooms and never assume it’s just water. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed through hotel corridors and seen the remains of a hotel room party gone wild. Let’s face it, the hotel does not have the manpower or capability to thoroughly clean hotel room floors, nor do they often have time between checkouts. Covid can be easily spread through bodily fluids.

I hope my tips have been helpful, check back in for more of my lived travel experience.

Why I blog.

Why I blog.

I have long been a proponent of taking care of myself, and so my interest in blogging is to inspire people by sharing my knowledge and wisdom. I started this blog because even though I am well educated with a doctorate and have traveled worldwide, I felt that people did not hear my voice. I have first-hand experience professionally and personally, and so I believe there is much that I can share. My thoughts and experience count, and this is why I blog. My wish is for people to realize the power of their voices and opinions by bringing stories to the forefront that might create dialog and interaction. People are often so hesitant to share their thoughts or experiences for fear of perceiving that they are trying to be more than they are, even when qualified. Most times, sharing can be inspiring to others, but we need to celebrate ourselves most of all.

One of the first comments I received on my blog was from someone who had been following my social media posts for years and was excited to see more. This feeling gave me a purpose in that If I could inspire one person, maybe I could inspire a lot more. So despite the naysayers, I continue to blog.

When I try to discuss my thoughts and ideas on blogging with many of the people I thought would be supportive, they were not. Blogging was similar to my traveling. Many enjoyed seeing my posts but thought I was going beyond my place in life. As always, I listened to my inner self. If no one were going to celebrate my path, then I definitely would!

There will always be people who doubt you and your abilities, who subconsciously try to inhibit your growth or success. I blog one post at a time, just as I traveled one destination at a time. I have a well-lived experience that has all revolved around traveling. I am most comfortable with and something I can share, knowing that I have a breadth of experience to support my thoughts and knowledge.

I mainly wanted to blog in short posts to inspire thoughts. I may change as my blogging experience continues, but for now, I am just choosing myself and my way. I have faith that the universe will guide me.

Thanks for going on this journey with me. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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