Galley Gossip: A weekend in Chicago- talking about blogging & a quick trip report

It’s been a few years since I’ve had a nice long layover in downtown Chicago, so I’d forgotten what a truly wonderful city it is. You see, whenever I’m visiting the Windy City my crew and I usually get stuck at an airport hotel, if we even leave the airport at all. So when I got an invitation to speak at the travel blog exchange conference, I decided to make it a long weekend. I also decided to bring my mother along.

Our flight from New York departed to Chicago on Friday. Saturday we spent the entire day wandering around and exploring the city. More about that later. Because on Sunday, I, yours truly, actually sat on a panel with some of the most powerful travel bloggers around. In fact, I took a seat right between Sean Keener (co-founder of Bootsnall) and Nomadic Matt. And on the other side of Matt sat Michael Yessis (co-founder and co-editor of WorldHum). Honestly, I’m not even sure what I was doing there, but I was very excited about it and I do hope someone photographed it. Because we were there to discuss how to keep a blog lively, I won’t bore you with the details of “lively” blogging, but I will share a few of the questions and answers I think you might find interesting.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE STORY ON YOUR BLOG AND WHY: I couldn’t narrow it down to just one post, so I shared my three favorite posts…

  1. THAT DAY – 9/11: This is the most serious post I’ve written to date. The best part was AOL featured it on 9/11 last year and it inspired millions of people to share their own stories of that tragic day, a day that not only took so many lives, but also completely changed the way we travel today. Some stories were so emotional they made me cry. Powerful stuff.
  2. FLIGHT ATTENDANT PET PEEVE #1: ANSWER PLEASEThis is my very first Gadling post. Over 700 people responded and the majority of those comments were not nice…not at all! In fact, it felt like 700 drive by shootings. I learned very quickly I needed a tough skin in order to write about what I do for a living, and to shake things off, and not take the comments personally. That was a huge lesson. I now work hard to show that flight attendants are nice, good people, who are also smart and interesting. Because we are!
  3. THE HOTTEST TREND ON THE AIRPLANE SINCE THE MILE HIGH CLUB: The laviator post is one of my favorites not just because it was featured on MSNBC and National Geographic, but because so many people responded and joined in the fun. I never expected that! I love including my readers, whether it be by having contests, sharing letters, stories, photographs, whatever, so if you’ve got something to share, let me know!

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO PROVIDE FOR YOUR READERS: An escape from day to day life. At least that’s what I hope to provide for readers who are unable to travel as often as they’d like. For those who do travel regularly, a chance to see what’s going on behind the galley curtain. Because aviation enthusiasts really are curious. I also enjoy educating my readers by allowing them to “see” what it’s really like to be a flight attendant and letting them know why we do the things they do, because honestly, we really aren’t on a power trip, we’re just enforcing FAA rules, rules that are really quite simple.

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR BLOG ALIVE WHEN YOU’RE NOT TRAVELING: Thank goodness for readers who inspire posts with their comments and questions.

And now for my quick trip report….

WHERE DID I STAY? Hotel Burnham. We got quite a deal on For just $129 / night we had an amazing view on the 15th floor in the refurbished, 105 year-old, Reliance Building . Located in the theater district, the pet-friendly, boutique hotel is a short walk from Millennium Park. In the lobby they offer a complimentary wine reception from 5-6 pm. The rooms are plush and tastefully decorated, the beds are comfortable and set against a bay window overlooking the city, and a zebra print bath robe awaits you in the closet. What more could you ask for? A Nordstrom Rack, you say? Right next door.

MY FAVORITE MEAL? Fish and chips at The Gage. They weren’t too crispy or even greasy. They were, however, perfectly flakey. Not only is the food amazing, but the portions are huge. The atmosphere is a mix of cool and contemporary, and while the prices are a tad bit high, it’s totally worth it. Especially if Oliver is your server.

MY FAVORITE THING TO DO? Walk around Millennium Park. I don’t know what I loved more, the Opera singers practicing at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in the middle of the afternoon, the gorgeous gardens at every turn, the kids splashing around in Crown Fountain, or the family fun festival we were lucky enough to run into, all while just wandering around.


Photo of the Day (7.14.09)

Holy cats, is that Paul Brady of Jaunted fame? Posing for the laviator series? Oh, you flatter us. The last time I heard from Paul, he was wrestling alligators for tips in Chile. According to this picture, he was on Spirit Airlines yesterday, so he can’t be too far from the grand old States of America. I wonder what he’s up to.

I know that we’ve been banging the laviator drum non stop for the past few weeks, but it’s always fun seeing the photo of a colleague posted up on our Gadling flickr pool. If you’ve got a laviator or a wonderful picture of your own that you’d like to submit for the Photo of the Day series, stop by and add it, just remember to save everything under Creative Commons, otherwise we can’t use them!

Galley Gossip: The official laviators music video!

Dear Heather,
My name is George, I am from Europe and I’m 19 years old. I know about your websites since a long time. Today I was browsing and I’ve discovered the pictures with the laviators. In the same time I was listening to a song and I’ve got inspired. I have a great idea of making a video with all your laviators and send it to you as gift. I will use the pictures only for you and me. I won’t publish it. If you want you can use it for your websites, I think everyone will like it as it’s kind of tribute or so. I’m sure it will be nice, great and fun. Please don’t break my heart and give me your accept. I will send you a sample first so you can decide what to do with it. It’s my gift, please accept it. : ) Thank you very much!

Kind regards,


PS I’ve never traveled by plane even if this was one of my dreams (include becoming a flight-attendant!) but I couldn’t afford a trip. I am fond of airlines. I know all the procedures. I have collections of airline newspaper advertisements and I have videos on YouTube as well. I once had a virtual airline…I love the crews. When I see an airplane my heart melts. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

Fly beautiful!

Dear George,

Not only do I give you my accept, I LOVE IT! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t even tell you how much this video has made my day and I can’t wait to share it with all the other laviators! George, you are too kind. I really wish I could fly to wherever you are in Europe (Romania, I think) and give you a big fat hug.

Now we’ve got to figure out a way to get you on an airplane! SOON. I mean how can it be that someone like you, someone who absolutely loves everything about aviation, someone whose heart melts when he sees an airplane, has not yet flown! It’s just not right. Something must be done about this.

Again, thank you George.


For those of you who have absolutely no idea what this is all about, read my Galley Gossip post, the hottest trend on the airplane since the mile high club, as well as what MSNBC recently wrote, The New Mile High Club is “G” Rated . And then, next time you fly, don’t forget to pack a camera in a carry-on bag and whatever you do, don’t be afraid to get creative! Need a few photography tips before you slide the camera into the pocket and make a move to the lav? Check out what our very own Gadling photography expert, Karen Walrond, suggests when it comes to taking a self portrait. Until then, take the poll below and let me know which phrase you prefer on YOUR T-shirt…



Galley Gossip: Laviators unite! (mile high headshots)

Recently I wrote a post, the hottest trend on the airplane since the mile high club, about something disturbing, yet quite intriguing, that was taking place not just on the airplane, but behind the locked lavatory door at 35,000 feet. Passengers, and I’m talking all kinds of passengers, have been photographing themselves in the bathroom. Alone. Doing what, I don’t know. But they look like they’re just standing there. And I wanted to do it, too.

I had written, “Oh you better believe I’ll be taking my own self portrait in the lav on my next flight to New York on Wednesday. Until then, check out these interesting shots.” And then I added a photo gallery I’d put together of passengers I’d found on standing in the lav, camera in hand.

One Gadling reader responded, “Heather, if you do photograph yourself in the lav, please spare us the picture! I think people will lose any respect they have for you.”

Sounds to me like someone needs to lighten up, and they can start by grabbing their camera and joining the club – the laviators club. I did! Yep, that’s me up there in the photo looking not so hot on a flight from Los Angeles to New York. Hey, it was late and I was tired. But I just had to do it. Even though my seat mate did look at me a little funny after he caught me trying to sneak my camera into the front pocket of my pants.

The first thing I did when I got home was download the photo, that photo right up there, onto my personal blog. I had a good laugh and I honestly thought that would be that, end of story. But a few days later I got an email with a photo attached from a Gadling reader. “This one’s for you,” Nate wrote, and that’s all he wrote, and it cracked me up!


The very next day I got another one! Jeff wrote, “I made you a picture.” I clicked the link and thought to myself, Oh. My. God. What have I started?

Next to join the club was one of my favorite flight attendants, Sodwee, also known as Airboy. He works for Emirates. He wrote, “Heather, I was thinking of you from CDG to DBX.”

Airboy wasn’t the only one thinking about me in the lav. Leesa wrote, “My daughter and I flew to LA last week and thought you might want some lav pictures for your collection.”

Well Leesa and her daughter were right! Not only do I have an interesting collection of mile high headshots from readers like you, I want more, more, MORE! So next time you’re on a flight don’t forget to take your camera and make sure to think of me – in the lav. Please, I beg you, join the club – the laviators club. And I’ll add your photo to the gallery above. Hmm…I wonder if Karen Walrond, our own resident photogapher, can give us a few tips?