Galley Gossip: Passenger of the month – Christopher Elliott

Name? Christopher Elliott

Where do you live? Orlando, Florida

Occupation? I’m a travel journalist.

Website? Elliott.org

City you spend the most time in? Orlando

Okay, that makes sense. Bad question. So where do you travel to the most often? New York

I love New York. Everyone should visit New York at least once in their lifetime, especially during Christmas. Miles flown this year? Just over 5,000.

Do you remember your very first flight? It was a Pan Am flight from New York to Munich in 1972 or 1973. I was probably four years old at the time, but I still remember the plane. It was huge — a Boeing 747, I think. The flight attendants were very kind to us. I remember my baby brother being in some kind of hammock. I looked out the window almost the entire time. Wow, we were actually flying! You know how airline people say they have jet fuel in their veins. Well, after that flight, I did.

It’s true, once you work for an airline it’s almost impossible to stop. Type / brand of luggage you own and travel with? I’m using a Travelpro Platinum 6 at the moment.

Check it or Carry on? Carry it. Always carry it.

I take it you pack light. Window or Aisle? I still like to look out the window.

Favorite seat? Anything in the emergency exit row — except the middle seat.

Something to Drink? Soda water with lime, please. I know — booooooring! — but I’ve I’ve learned some hard lessons about drinking on planes. Let’s just leave it at that.

Good to know, I’ll save you a few limes. Beef or Chicken? Chicken.

What snacks do you pack? Gummi bears.

Gummi bears? Really? What exactly is in your carry on bag? My laptop, an extra pair of khakis, shirt, pajamas and something to read.

You DO pack light. My kind of man. Any packing tips/tricks? Roll, don’t fold.

That’s what I do. Describe your traveling outfitLoose fitting pants, button-down shirt, blue blazer, sunglasses.

Best shoes to wear through airport security? Anything you can get into and out of easily. I have a pair of Clarks that slip right off. For trips to the mountains, I wear a pair of New Balance hiking shoes that are surprisingly easy to take off.

Any airport routines? A triple grande nonfat latte before boarding.

Was that you behind me in line at Starbucks? I always make it a point to get a tall latte before every flight. Best airline/experience? Any time I’ve been upgraded to first class. Which never happens anymore.

Ahhh…but is that because you’re flying Southwest? Most memorable experience onboard a flight? I was flying from Frankfurt to New York in the 80s. We were over Greenland or Canada, and encountered this sudden, violent turbulence. I looked out at the wing and saw it bending — you know, like a wave — and people were screaming. Some were crying. The plane dropped quickly, in an apparent effort to get away from the rough air. Everyone thought this was the end. I literally was saying my last prayers. I wasn’t sure if we could survive a crash, and if we did, I knew we’d quickly die of exposure to the elements. And just as quickly as it had begun, it stopped. It was way scarier than the aborted takeoff in Houston a few years later.

Nicest Airport - Orlando.

Favorite Airport restaurant? There’s a little taco place — not sure what it’s called — near the Southwest gates at LAX. Best darned Mexican food ever.

Next time you’re in Los Angeles I’ll take you to the best darned Mexican food place ever! Burrito is my middle name and chips and salsa is my favorite food. Hotel away from home? I had a great experience at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa recently. I could probably move in.

Most luxurious hotel you’ve ever experienced? The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. I stayed in the JR suite a few years ago. Wow!

I grew up in Dallas, so I know that hotel – talk about NICE! Favorite in-flight announcement? Anything on Southwest Airlines.

Passengers do seem to love their humor. Book / magazine last read on a flight? The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner

Favorite travel book(s)? I like to re-read Ann Tyler’s “The Accidental Tourist” every now and then. It’s a good reality check.

I’ve never read that one. Perhaps I’ll pick it up for my flight home. So…where did you go on your last vacation? My last vacation — well, it was a weekend trip, really — was to Canaveral National Seashore with my family. It’s my new favorite beach on Florida’s East Coast. Beautiful sand dunes, unspoiled coastline, and you’re a stone’s throw from the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center.

Oh I’m going to check that out! Sounds beautiful. Tell me about your favorite destination? Vienna, Austria. It’s where I grew up.

Now finish the following sentences…

I can’t fly without my… Bose noise-canceling headset.

On my last flightI slept almost the entire time. What a beautiful thing.

If I could be anywhere in the world, I’d …On a diveboat in Key Largo, Fla., right over Molasses Reef on a flat-calm day with 100 feet of viz.

When it comes to traveling, I wishI didn’t have to do as much of it as I do.

Why do passengers…lean their seats into my knees?

Why do flight attendantstell me that “I’m going to need to” do something instead of just asking me to do it.

Why do pilots…always seem to wait until I’m asleep to make their in-flight announcement?

Next flight? I’m grounded for the next few weeks.

Okay, now ask me a question, any question! What is the meaning of life?

Hey now, you were supposed to ask me something about flying! Not go all serious on me. That’s okay, because I do know the meaning of life – for me. Life is the journey, not the destination. Thank you so much for your time, Christopher. Enjoy your travels and fly safe