Wordless Wednesday: Morning at KSLC

Delta planes SLC

Wordless Wednesday: Somewhere Over Denver

flying over denver

Mind My Personal Space!

sitting in the middle seat17B.

When you’re flying standby on a full flight, you’re happy to be assigned any seat, middle seat included. But if you’re in a middle seat, an exit row isn’t a bad way to go.

I arrived at the Philadelphia airport at 5:45 am for a 7:10 am flight. Because I’d been up late partying at #TypeAPhilly, I didn’t get to my hotel room until midnight-ish, and then I had to pack for an early flight. Winding down from the closing party wasn’t easy, and I didn’t fall asleep until after 1 am. This made my 4:40 am wake-up call brutal. What got me out of bed was knowing that I’d have a four-hour flight ahead of me, and I’d probably be able to sleep through a good portion of it.

As I boarded the plane, I scanned the aisles beyond first class to find my row. As I found it, I made eye contact with my aisle seatmate. He immediately gave me a look of horror. I gave him a smile and he grimaced. I glanced over to the man in the window seat, and he gave me a genuine smile.

I settled into my bulkhead seat, stuffed a book and bottled drink in the seat ahead of me, and pulled out my phone to pass time until the plane door closed. Mr. Window seat was asleep within 5 minutes of me sitting down, and he had overtaken the armrest to my left. My grouchy seatmate picked up his buzzing iPhone, tapped a button, and barked “This is Harry.” But it wasn’t just “Harry.” It was Harrrrrry, with a throaty growl to it. Like a parched dinosaur.

I sat back in my seat, put my elbow on the armrest, and he did this strange body wobble thing against my arm. I didn’t really understand the movement, but I tried to tuck in my arm as much as possible and ignore him.

I stretched out forward and crossed my legs, grateful for the extra legspace. The next thing I know, Harry barks at me “Mind my personal space!” Apparently, when I crossed my legs to get comfortable and avoid touching his arm, my foot had crossed some (invisible?) line in his mind. I had the toe of my sandal propped against the metal seat frame in front of me (separating the middle and aisle seat), but it definitely wasn’t in his “personal space.”

I was tired, so I decided to try to nap. I had a hoodie on, and brought a jacket with a hood. I put the hoodie hood over my head, then laid the jacket over me, with the hood covering my face. About 5 minutes later, I felt this awkward jab at my right thigh. Harry must not have liked my jacket touching the armrest, so he took the liberty of forcefully tucking my jacket next to my thigh. (Side note: I have a bit of a bruise today). I was a startled by his actions, but was tired and dozed off again.

Right as I was on the edge of dozing and sleep, there’s the big body wobble against my arm again. I know that bodies naturally relax as they sleep, but Harry wasn’t going to have it. He woke me up a few times like this, fully knowing I was TRYING to sleep, and after about a half hour I gave up, put my jacket under the seat, and pulled out my book onto the tray table. I was reading Stranger Here a book about weight loss surgery. A few seconds later, I heard Harry grunt “surgery” under his breath.

coke zero on delta flightI glanced over a Harry, who had his giant Beats by Dre headphones and watching “Django Unchained” on his iPad. His eyeglass frames were modern, and slightly more ornate than I’d expect on a middle-aged man. He looked unhappy, with deep frown lines and a clenched jaw. I could tell that he’d shaved, but not very well. His coarse salt and pepper hair bursted out underneath his dingy white Nike running hat. His Ed Hardy shirt was rumpled, and his jeans looked expensive, but dirty.

Harry looked very inconvenienced to be on the plane, and complained to a flight attendant about how he was unfairly denied a first class upgrade when she took our first drink order of the flight. I ordered a can of Coke Zero, he ordered Bloody Mary mix and extra peanuts. I reached down to my purse for some jerky, and he made a rude groaning noise as I was leaning down. I sat up and gave him a questioning look, and he snorted awkwardly and pulled out a hardcopy copy of Dante’s “Inferno.”

I attempted sleeping again, this time with my jacked tightly tucked around my legs. But I never really slept, because Harry kept doing this strange body wobble thing over and over. And over. And over. I counted EIGHTEEN times that he woke me up on this flight. WTF?

The second time the flight attendants took drink orders, I asked for water with ice and declined peanuts, pretzels, or Biscoff cookies. He curtly demanded “water with NO ice!” The flight attendant looked at me sympathetically. If there had been more open seats on the flight, I would have asked to be moved from my seat.

As soon as the flight touched down, he grabbed his iPhone and began madly punching out an email. I glanced at the screen, and the subject line was full of expletives. When the plane stopped at the gate, he unbuckled his seatbelt, sprung out of his seat, grabbed his carry-on bag, and went as far up the plane aisle as he could before other passengers boxed him in.

Nobody likes to be the middle seat passenger on a flight, but that doesn’t mean that anyone sitting in the aisle or window seat should treat them like a second class citizen. Or wake them up from a nap 18 times. Or forcefully tuck a jacket by their thigh. Or grunt about the things they are reading. If you want a seat in first class, pay for it – don’t punish your seatmate with your frustration.

Sure, it’s awkward to sit by a stranger on a plane. But don’t ruin the travel experience of the person next to you because you’re grumpy.

Richard Simmons Air New Zealand Safety Video

If you thought Deltalina was entertaining, you should check out the new Air New Zealand Safety Video starring Richard Simmons! Air New Zealand is notorious for their saucy safety videos, particularly the one where the crew are dressed in body paint.

If you’re sick of the #RickRoll, how about you do a #RichRoll?

Ode to a Certain Irish Airline

No airline is perfect, but a certain Irish airline tends to live up to all these cliches. Enjoy!

Pilots, Patdowns, and Rest Rules

Just wanted to put my two cents in on two aviation topics that are currently in the news: “naked body scanners” at TSA security screenings, and FAA reform of pilot rest rules.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 is National Opt-Out Day. It is an awareness campaign, cleverly planned for the busiest travel day of the year, to get the attention of lawmakers. Travelers are encouraged to opt-out of Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT, or “naked body scanners“) and request an enhanced manual pat-down. According the the official website:

It’s the day ordinary citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty, and protest the federal government’s desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an “enhanced pat down” that touches people’s breasts and genitals in an aggressive manner.  You should never have to explain to your children, “Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it’s a government employee, then it’s OK.”

The goal of National Opt Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change.  We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we’re guilty until proven innocent.  This day is needed because many people do not understand what they consent to when choosing to fly.

It’s more than just a traveler issue for me, it’s an issue of common sense. Pilots and other crew members are subjected to security searches day after day, and are exposed to potentially harmful radiation levels. Many airline unions have encouraged pilots to refuse the AIT scanners and request the pat-down everytime. Unfortunately, I don’t have the highest opinion of many TSA agents…many are young, inexperienced, and exploit the power trip that their uniform affords them. If my husband’s junk is going to be manually examined, I’d prefer it not to be done by a TSA agent. My friend Sam, a regional captain, wrote an excellent post on security silliness required for pilots. Why are crew members practically strip-searched when they have the greatest weapon at their disposal (the airplane), should they choose to cause a disaster? Will fingernail clippers or a shampoo bottle over 3.4 ounces be more dangerous? It just doesn’t make sense.

The other issue under discussion is regarding the FAA’s proposed Flight Time/Duty Time requirements. These new rules allow a reduction in the amount of hours a pilot may have on the ground, while increasing the total hours they may be on duty. Sully Sullenberger, the captain of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” is encouraging the traveling public to  lobby to have the proposed rules revised for safety. Please watch the following video, and visit the Coalition of Airline Pilot Association website to create letters to send to your local government officials.

Important Message From Captain Sully Sullenberger

Help keep the friendly skies safe, one pilot at a time!

Phony McPhonerton

Tomorrow (or tonight, or Thursday, who knows?) I’m leaving for New York City. I’m headed to the BlogHer Conference, which I’ve been excited about for MONTHS. Excited but anxious. I’ve read other bloggers’ accounts of their past experiences at the BlogHer concerences, and it seems like it could be a fine combination of awkward, awful, and awesome. I’m excited about the people I’m rooming with. I’m excited to be volunteering. I’m excited for the parties. I’m excited to meet my online friends in person, and reconnect with others I’ve previously met. But I’m worried…I feel like a bit of a phony. A self-proclaimed “blogger” who hasn’t even updated her site in over a month.

It’s been a crazy summer. Between Rosie’s rehearsals and performances in “The Music Man,” Taylor’s commute, and my school, I’ve managed to keep myself very busy. I am frustrated that school is taking so long, and was hoping to be working by now. I was really hoping to be off to NYC with a little more cash in my pocket. I’ve seriously considered not going. It’s hard to go to a big, expensive, unfamiliar place like New York without means to recover from a possible travel disaster. Some plans have already fallen through, partially due to my anxiety-ridden procrastination. As I write this, I’m still scrambling for a place to stay Wednesday night. I could plan on taking the Wednesday night red-eye from SLC…but if I miss the flight I’m hosed. Maybe I’ll try staying with another friend in an east coast city, then hop over to NYC Thursday morning. Who knows?

It’s times like these that I feel like a Phony McPhonerton. What happened to the confident, spontaneous, and blogging Nicole I usually am?

The Graduate: Aviation Professional Pilot

After years of effort, three schools, several majors, student loans, and the blasted algebra class that would never end….Taylor did it! He graduated from Utah Valley University’s Global Aviation Program. He achieved the much-desired Bachelor of Science degree, Aviation Professional Pilot.

It was a little strange to be on UVU’s campus, as Taylor’s program was entirely online (or in the air, if you will). It was a strange feeling. I’m grateful that Taylor was able to obtain this degree so flexibly…completing coursework in Utah, California, Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, and Georgia. Despite hundreds of drivebys of the UVU campus, we didn’t know where anything besides the McKay Events Center.  The day before graduation we drove around to look for the Alumni Center where caps and gowns were being distributed…and had to ask a few people where to go.

I’m so proud of Taylor’s accomplishments and drive to complete his degree. He is one of the lucky ones of his fellow aviation graduates to be lucky enough to be working the “dream job” (if you can call being a regional FO a dream). He’s had aviation in his blood, wanted to be a jet pilot since he was 3 years old, and he made it happen.

The Bachelor Finale: Jake and the Skank

“This is the life I’ve always wanted. This is the guy I’ve always wanted. This is the fairy tale I thought I’d never have.”

Vienna Girardi

So…Jake chose Vienna.

Vienna Marie Girardi

Born in Geneva, Florida May, 1986 (23-years old)
Currently resides in Sanford, Florida
Graduated from the University of Central Florida
Bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal Organizational Communication
Member of Kappa Delta

Back before this season of “The Bachelor” started, I was given spoilers for the season from my friends through Pilot Wives Club. I haven’t ever gone into a reality TV season with so much info, but it gave me a chance to watch this season of The Bachelor with a more critical eye. I knew Vienna would win, and I watched her words and actions with a fine-toothed comb.

Vienna Girardi rubbed me the wrong way from the season premiere. She does have a attractive body and spunky personality, but the best descriptive word that flashes in my mind is FAKE! How will she look without the hair extensions and push-up bra? How will he feel about her when she can’t fit into her little booty shorts? She quickly wrapped Jake around her French-manicured little finger. Jake “bonded” with her while bungee jumping, interpreting adrenaline for love. Jake dismissed the warnings about Vienna from the other girls in the house. And if Jake doesn’t end up happy, it’s his own darn fault.But who knows? Maybe Jake and Vienna WILL have their happily ever after. Being married to a regional pilot in Texas will be much different than the lavish dates and accommodations of St. Lucia. Vienna will love her 15 minutes of fame, but her story will change when Jake is gone over half the month. And that’s if he even goes back to flying “on the line.” She hasn’t yet experienced the disappointment that occurs when Jake gets delayed or extended on trips, when he gets scheduled major holidays and on her birthday.

My prediction? Jake and Vienna won’t last. They’ll enjoy the publicity for a while. They’ll get stalked by the paparazzi. They’ll plan their lavish wedding.  Jake will probably get that Southwest Airlines gig he’s been hoping for, but be stuck on reserve for years.  And while Jake is gone, Vienna will get bored and give up on him. Her Zoom-whitened smile will fade and she’ll get bored of being alone on his four-day trips. One or both of them will cheat. And in a few years, she’ll end up like this on a  future season of  “Reality TV Romances that Didn’t Work Out”.

The Bachelor: Jake’s an Okay Guy

The Bachlor, Jake Pavelka, Pilot Bachlor, On the Wings of Love
The Reality Show I Love to Hate

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about Jake Pavelka, AKA “The Bachelor.” I’ve only watched a handful of seasons of The Bachelor, so I knew the basic premise, the cattiness of the girls who “really think they’ve fallen in love,” and the awkward situations that ensue when 25 hot ladies go after one man. With this background, I was really dreading the outcome of the season with Jake as “The Bachelor.”  Now that the season is drawing near a resolution (and yes, I do know who ultimately “wins” Jake’s heart), I thought I’ve give an update on my impressions of America’s favorite regional pilot.jake Pavelka, jacob lynn pavelka, The Bachelor

I actually think Jake is an okay guy! He is charming,  sensitive,  and I honestly believe he has integrity. I like that he doesn’t string along the girls he knows he doesn’t have a future with.  My gut instinct is that he is proud of his body, and he normally wouldn’t be parading it around like this:

But honestly….I don’t mind looking (and don’t tell my husband!) ABC knows how to get viewers hooked! Now when I hear “On the Wings of Love,” like I did at the grocery store on my birthday, my mind immediately wanders to the above image.

There’s a big of a disconnect between his career as a regional pilot and the glitzy “rich and successful” career that ABC makes him out to have. Actually, my sources at ASA (his regional airline) have told me he hasn’t been flying on the line for quite some time, and he’s awaiting an interview date with Southwest Airlines in March. He flies the CRJ-200 (same as my husband) but most of the shots on the series show the 737 that Jake hopes to fly soon.

My biggest beef of the show continues to be the lack of emphasis Jake’s future partner will experience with his career. He hasn’t said a word about the realities of his time away from home. A pilot’s partner will always have to share their man with Crew Scheduling. He will deal with delays, reserve, domicile changes, and possibly even furloughs. He may be comfortable with his current salary with ASA, but it’s always a paycut to go back to First Officer pay.

Jake Pavelka, The Bachelor, Jake Shirtless

But in the meantime, I’m just going to forget about all the IMPORTANT stuff, and focus on the reality TV drama!