Galley Gossip: Passenger of the month – Lorna Brett Howard

Name: Lorna Brett Howard

Occupation? Toy maker, Penelope Peapod, feminist political activist

I went to the Penelope Peapod website and couldn’t help but think a doll that size would fit perfectly inside a travel bag! So where do I get one? Penelope Peapod is a take along toy, a doll in a wicker basket handbag that turns into a bassinet. The “handbag” can hold other things so perfect for travel and then Mom does not have to carry their daughter’s toys, as so always happens. You can order a Penelope Peapod at If someone writes Heather Poole sent me in the “notes/comment” section I will send them a free outfit and blanket set….after all, half the fun is changing her clothes!

That’s so nice of you! Thank you. I’ll be ordering two. You mentioned on the flight that you travel often with your child. How often is often and what’s your secret to making sure everything goes smoothly?I have been in a commuter-marriage for five years and my son is four. We travel every week, Sundays, to and from New York to Chicago. Hauling a baby through security is hard, toddlers worse. At four, it is easier now. The secret is, of course, organization. Having the right snacks (non-sticky, easy to eat) and distractions, books, figures to play with….and I must admit, a portable DVD player. Once an older man lectured me on how bad it was for kids to watch too much TV/movies and asked why I didn’t just read to my son on the plane. I gave him a kind smile and said I did and left it at that. I wanted to ask him if he ever had traveled with his children every week but then I thought, of course not. He had no clue. JUNE CLEAVER IS DEAD I wanted to say. And I am sure June did not have to get on a plane every week.

Yeah, I remember seeing a kid watching a DVD at a nice restaurant years ago and thinking, I’d never do that. I have since learned never say never. Now when I travel with my son we never leave home without the ipod with the screen for watching Handy Manny, Curious George, Caillou…you get the picture. Number one travel tip for parents? Have a bloody mary, just one, when you get on the plane! Ha, just kidding…sort of. I would say to keep calm even when they fuss as it just makes it worse. Check whatever you can and have lots of distractions. Sometimes a brand new book or little toy goes a long way.

When my son was between the age of 3 months and two years, I couldn’t live without my Sit-N-Stroll. What’s your favorite travel item when traveling with your son? I had a Sit-N-Stroll and it was great. It was difficult to get down the aisle sometimes, depending on the type of aircraft we were on and how wide the aisles there were, they have become more narrow as the seats have become wider and more comfortable. Other than that, a good organized bag with everything easy to find – that fits under the seat in front is essential.

The Sit-N-Stroll only fits down the aisle on a widebody aircraft. I hear you on the organized bag. I bought an expensive diaper bag and ended up never using it because the Diaper Dude was much easier to travel with due to all the pockets and the messenger style, allowing hands to be free. How many miles have you flown this year? I don’t know! Every Sunday back and forth, haven’t added up. In addition, we travel a lot for vacations. So my son is a platinum member already and he knows all the clues – buckle up for safety, no portable electronic devices until the captain says so!

Much respect! Last flight? May 10th

Check it or Carry on? I try not to check anything because then you have to wait, and at O’Hare and LaGuardia it can take a while. But sometimes it is better to check when you have too much to haul from Gate One Million, which is always where we seem to land in O’Hare…I don’t think I have ever been at Gate 1!

Window or Aisle? Window for my son for sure.

Something to Drink? He always has a Sprite, a flying treat.

Beef or Chicken? We are both vegetarians so we rarely eat the food offered.

What exactly is in your carry on bag? A “milky”, a juice, cheddar bunnies, raisins, fruit roll ups (a bit sticky), two books, a few airplanes, my son’s “lamby” which he can’t fly without, wipes, DVD player and few DVDs, magazine or book for me

Any packing tips/tricks? Light!

Describe your traveling outfit. Jeans, t-shirt, sweater (gets cold sometimes) or a wrap, for my son, the same!

Best shoes to wear through airport security Boots, and I always wear boots!

Any airport routines?Oh yes, French fries at O’Hare and donuts at LaGuardia…what can I say, we generally eat healthy so it’s no big deal.

Nicest Airport? I love the marine terminal at LaGuardia because it is so small. O’Hare can be nightmare because the gates go on forever and it feels like a million mile walk out of the terminal.

Favorite Airport restaurant? Potbelly’s sandwiches at Midway Airport in Chicago.

I’ve never heard of Potbelly’s. Now I’ll be on the look out. Hotel away from home? The Peninsula, any of them, love the hotels. Or the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, a dumpy, cool, chic and weird place.

Favorite in-flight announcement? We are getting in early AND there is gate waiting.

Book last read on a flight? War and Peace, Tolstoy. That is when I thought buying Kindle was a good idea. Have you ever seen how big that book is??

Now finish the following sentences…

I can’t fly without my…laptop. I work on the plane, and my Blackberry…And of course my son!

On my last flight…I met Heather Poole! And loved her.

Oh now that is nice. Really nice. Thank you for that. Moving on – this passenger I sat next to…was convinced I was Julia Roberts. We were pregnant at the same time. I kept telling him I wasn’t, he asked for my autograph. I think he thought I was pretending.

I had this one flight…where I was crying about something sad that had happened in my life and the flight attendants were so nice.

If I could be anywhere in the world, I’d …be in Belize, diving the Blue Hole, not wearing shoes for a week and staying in some cool old hut.

When it comes to traveling, I wish…that I didn’t fly into two of busiest airport in the world — I feel I am always delayed due to weather in Chicago. but there is nothing to do about that. So I guess I wish that ALL those rentable luggage carts in the terminals had seats for toddlers. Some do not and I don’t know why, just a place for a purse, not for little legs!

Why are/do flight attendants…I have no complaints. They always seem to be nice and pleasant even in the face of some very crabby passengers.

Next flight? I’ve been happily in one place for three weeks (rare) but will travel on the Monday after Memorial Day….should be fun!

Galley Gossip: Passenger of the month: Adam Schaffer

Name: Adam Schaffer

Occupation: Media and publishing executive. I am in the magazine business, but had the honor of being on the editorial advisory board of Inside Flyer magazine a few years back

Which is exactly why I picked you as my passenger of the month. Tell me something interesting you learned while working for Inside Flyer: Airline club memberships are huge. Not only is the lounge access terrific, but the agents there can often “get things done” that agents elsewhere in the airport cannot such as upgrades, special sitting, moving flights, etc.

Recently I wrote a post, The passenger didn’t ask for much, about a demanding passenger on board the very same flight you were on. A Gadling reader commented by saying, “I fly all the time and I’ve never seen anything like that ever happen on a flight!” If I hadn’t told you what was happening would you have known what was going on nine rows behind you? I had no idea the incident was as prolonged as it turned out to be. I have a good sense and can tell when “something is up” somewhere on the airplane, but you and the crew handled that situation very well.

Thank you! So how many miles have you flow this year? 20,728 thru march 31st.

Last flight? JFk-LAX

That was my flight, the crazy flight! Check it or carry on? Carry on! I once went to Moscow and St. Petersberg for eight days with a carry on!

It can be done, because I went to Italy for 10 days (Venice, Rome & Positano) with only a rollaboard and a tote bag. Window or aisle seat? Aisle. I do not like to be confined.

Something to drink? Water. I fainted on a flight to Spain on my honeymoon due to dehydration. The next thing I know I am laying in the aisle and the flight attendants are shaking me awake and asking if I’m okay. Apparently I fained and fell against my wife on the way down. My wife tried to wake me and I didn’t move! So she ran to the forward galley yelling, “I haven’t been married 24 hours and I think my husband is dead!”

Wow – I hope you buy a really big bottle of water before each and every flight, especially when you’re traveling on my flight! What type if luggage do you carry? Sturdy and inexpensive. I had a nice Tumi bag I had to check once…and it was ruined. The baggage handling system will eat your luggage!

Sorry to hear that. Any packing tips or tricks? Mix and match. Take as little as possible.

Best shoes to wear through security? Crocs are great, but then your feet get all grimey, so I suggest socks. The TSA does need to find a way to make the whole shoe thing better.

I agree. Any airport routines? I always check to see if the inbound flight is on time and where it is coming from. Sadly airlines will hedge their bets on announcing delays. Then I buy a lot of water.

You sound like a flight attendant – checking the inbound flight for delays! Smart. Best airline experience? Recently I flew on American Airlines from New Delhi, India to Chicago. 15 hours and 40 minutes en route. The new AA business class cabins on the 777 are really nice and the service was amazing. Many meal opportunities and options (and great Indian food) and a terrific choice of on demand entertainment. I was dreading the flight and was actually a bit bummed when it was over.

Nicest airport? Shanghai Pudong, best damn gift shops anywhere.

Favorite airport restaurant? One world lounge in Hong Kong. Get the “Dan Dan Noodles”

That’s all my husband talked about when he came back from Hong Kong, how amazing the lounge was and how great those Dan Dan noodles were. Hotel away from home? Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas

Too funny! I’m pretty lucky on the $1 slots over there. Favorite in-flight announcement? “In preparation for landing..”

Book last read on a flight? We are like that only, understanding the logic of consumer India, by Rama Bijapurkar

Now finish the following sentences…

I can’t fly without my…Ipod and noise canceling headsets

On my last flight…I actually watched a movie and didn’t work. Saw “Yes Man” with Jim Carey

This passenger I sat next to…Got me my current job! (Be friendly to those around you)

I had this one flight…Where the flight attendant actually threw my food at me! (And, for the record, I was just sitting quietly) It was an Atlanta to LA flight, so you can guess the carrier.

If I could be anywhere in the world, I’d…Be in Fiji and nowhere else.

When it comes to traveling I wish…A supersonic plane was in the pipeline somewhere. Would love to do LA to Hong Kong in five hours.

Why do flight attendants…Put up with crap from passengers? I know it’s a customer service thing, but some folks need a good bop on the head!

Next flight: Lax – JFK God willing in business class.

Photos courtesy of (water) Moussefromsacto, (dan dan noodles) Avlxyz, (Fiji) Muzzman

Galley Gossip: Passenger of the month – Author Thant Myint-U

Name? Thant Myint-U

Where do you live? Right now in Bangkok, but before that in NYC for many years.

Bangkok, wow! Pretend I’m a tourist and I’ve just asked you to recommend a few places to check out while I’m visiting Bangkok, places you actually go to, what would you suggest? The Vertigo bar on top of the Banyan Tree hotel (pictured below), the Oriental Spa at the Oriental Hotel, the Tea Room at the Erawan Hyatt Hotel

Sounds nice. You write books, right? Hmmmm. It’s a little complicated. Most of the next six months I’ll be writing a new book. I’ve also worked for the UN more than ten years on and off, and taught history for a while at Cambridge University.

Tell me about your most recent book, The River of Lost Footsteps. It’s partly a history of Burma (which is where my family is from) and an attempt to introduce Americans and others to Burma’s incredibly colorful and exciting history. It’s also partly an autobiography, a travel book, and the story of my family over the past two hundred years.

Ever write about something you’ve seen on a flight? Yes. Well a little bit. In the RoLF I mention my first long flight on Pan Am from New York to Bangkok (and then to Rangoon) in 1974. We flew first class and had to go NY-Frankfurt-Istanbul-Teheran-Dehli-Bangkok-Rangoon. There was a bar and a big movie screen. It was such a long flight with so many stops I still remember the itinerary (even though I was only eight years old then).

Are you working on a new book? It’s called “The Hidden Map of Asia”. But can’t say anything more, other than that it should be published in a year’s time.

City you spend the most time in? Bangkok, about half my time this year.

Where do you travel the most often? All over Asia, Europe and the East Coast. My main cities last year were NY, London, Reykjavik, Oslo, Berlin, Stockholm, Beijing, Kathmandu, Rangoon and Bangkok.

Miles flown this year? Not sure, over 100,000.

Do you remember your very first flight? I think it was when we went to Jamaica when I was four (with my parents and my little sister). Don’t remember very much about it though. I think it was TWA.

You’ve been traveling your entire life! What about your last flight? I bet you can remember that. Rangoon to Bangkok last week. On Thai International (which is one of only a few airlines that fly to Burma these days). Only an hour. Great Thai food though and champagne. I take it many times a year. Always full. And Buddhist monks get automatically bumped up to business.

I did not know about Buddhist monks getting automatically upgraded to business class. That’s very interesting. Unfortunately, I’m sad to report, I do not believe we do that here in the States. So what Type / brand of luggage do you own? Globetrotter hard case (I have two sizes, one carry-on and one bigger)

Check it or Carry on? I usually check-in if it’s for a trip that’s more than a couple of days.

Checking your luggage does make flying a lot less stressful, but you have to get to the airport early and be prepared to wait at baggage claim. Window or Aisle? Aisle. I get claustrophobic in the window seat unless it’s a business class seat where you can easily get out without squeezing past the other person.

I’m an aisle girl myself. I think most people are. Any favorite seat in particular? Business class seat on Singapore long-haul (Singapore-NY 19 hours). I just watch a movie, eat, sleep for nine hours, wake up, eat, watch a movie and I’m there.

You actually make a long flight sound do-able. Something to Drink? Diet coke or champagne.

Beef or Chicken? I guess chicken

You don’t sound too enthusiastic. I guess you pack snacks? Never done that!

So what exactly is in your carry on bag? My laptop, papers, newspapers, books.

Any packing tips/tricks? I travel superlight. Sometimes just an old leather briefcase with a couple of extra shirts and socks and toiletries for a few days.

Describe your traveling outfit. Depends on what’s going to happen at the other end. I might wear a suit if it’s a short trip and I have a meeting to go to. And usually wear a blazer with jeans on a long trip.

Best shoes to wear through airport security? I more or less have only lace-ups so I just wear whatever I have to wear and don’t think too much about security hassles. In Asia it’s different. Very short lines. And you don’t have to take off your shoes.

Any airport routines? I always get a massage at the Thai Airways business lounge in Bangkok.

It’s official, I want to be you. Best airline/experience? I actually like the super long flights. No phone, no blackberry, no internet. I read and watch movies and don’t have to worry that I’m missing anything. The best views by far were in Nepal, flying right up against the Himalayas.

You make travel sound amazing. Most memorable experience onboard a flight? During the Bosnian war I used to fly every few weeks from Zagreb to Sarajevo (I was serving in a UN peacekeeping operation), and once or twice our planes got shot at as we approached Sarajevo airport.

That’s crazy! How about the nicest airport? There are so many nice ones in Asia now. Beijing is probably the most impressive. The one in Rangoon is probably the most surprisingly nice – brand new, efficient, easy.

Okay I’m ready to move to Asia. Favorite Airport restaurant? Hardly ever eat in an airport restaurant, actually.

Hotel away from home? These past few months it’s been the Chatrium in Rangoon (at least four weeks there altogether). I’ve been at a little guesthouse in Reykjavik a lot too.

Most luxurious hotel you’ve ever experienced? Hard to say, over the past year probably the Pimalai on Koh Lanta (an island beach resort) in southern Thailand and the Four Seasons in Bangkok.

Favorite in-flight announcement? We’re arriving early. Or we’re ready to take off and you look around and they’re lots of empty seats. Or the local weather is 70 degrees and sunny.

Oh I like those! Especially the part about the empty seats. When passengers are comfortable, they’re happy, and when they’re happy, flight attendants are happy, which makes for an amazing flight. Book / magazine last read on a flight? Financial Times.

Favorite travel book(s)? Pretty much anything by VS Naipaul or Paul Theroux.

You did recommend that I read The Old Patagonian Express, by Paul Theroux, and not only did I read it, it’s now one of my favorite books. It inspired me as a writer and a traveler. Where did you go on your last vacation? Trekking in the Himalayas

Tell me about your favorite destination? I’m always happy to go to Rangoon, which is where my family’s from – I’ve never lived there properly but have gone nearly every year since I was very young. It’s been so isolated but is still an amazingly cosmopolitan city – with Buddhist pagodas, mosques, Baptist churches, synagogues, and people from all across Asia, beautiful, with an incredible (and often very violent) history, and great food.

Now finish the following sentences…

I can’t fly without my…reading material

Once this passenger I sat next to…turned out to be a famous network news anchor.

If I could be anywhere in the world, I’d be…on the beach in Burma

When it comes to traveling, I wish…I didn’t have any luggage

Next flight? – Kuala Lumpur, for the day, in ten days.

Vertigo Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel in Bangkok…

Galley Gossip: Flight attendant of the month – a retired New York City detective

Name? Kieran

Base? LGA (New York)

What did you do before you became a flight attendant? NYC Detective 23 years, Insurance Fraud Investigator 7 Years

No way! I’m impressed. So what exactly made you want to become a flight attendant?
I saw an ad for open house at LGA Marriott.They were looking for flight attendants for New York only. I went with my resume and I figured even if I didn’t get the job, I might get a date. I got the job that day and the date years later.

Not just a date, Kieran, but a fiance! (His fiance is also a flight attendant.) Last flight?
Las Vegas

That was the trip we worked together, which was a very nice flight. Hours flown this month?
50 hours this month

Galley or aisle?
I like to work first class on the 757, S80, 737, and aisle on 767.

Thank goodness there’s you, because I’m an aisle girl myself. First class, business class, or coach?
All classes

On the widebody or narrowbody?
I like widebody but if something else with a nice layover shows up, I’ll fly that.

Favorite airplane? 767 and 737

Regular Route? I have been doing Las Vegas the last couple of months but I will probably fly whatever my seniority holds.

Dream Trip? Long San Francisco layover

Nightmare Trip?

I thought I was the only person who didn’t love the Seattle flight. Craziest thing that ever happened on a trip? It was a 767 San Francisco to New York trip. The plane was taking off and about ten seconds into lift off, this women screams and runs to the back of the plane where I am (simply out of fear of flying). I yelled “sit down you crazy nut” and she sat on the floor next to me until we leveled off. I recommended she take a greyhound bus on her return trip home.

That’s why I always recommend that passengers who are afraid to fly book seats near the front of the aircraft because there’s less turbulence. Tell me, what exactly is in your rollaboard? Shirt, pants, underwear,socks ,jacket and shaving kit.

That’s it? Any packing tips/tricks? I am the worst packer

Me, too. My bag always looks like it’s going to explode. Nicest airport?
Las Vegas

Worst airport?
Miami and Dallas

I take it you don’t enjoy walking three miles between connecting flights. Favorite airport restaurant?
Figs at La Guardia

Any traveling snacks? no

A flight attendant without snacks? I don’t believe it. Hotel away from home? S
herry Frontenac

Favorite in-flight announcement? “Ladies and gentlemen the front door of the aircraft has been closed so if you have a blackberry,blueberry ,cranberry strawberry,banana, cantaloupe and it has an on and off switch or a battery you must turn it off. I will let you know when you may use approved electronics when we are in flight.”

Book / Magazine last read on the jumpseat?
Collected poems of Robert Service

So you’re a romantic! I had no idea. Most annoying passenger question? “
Where are we?” My answer is usually “In a big airplane high up in the air” Then I ask the captain.

Kieran and his fiance (who is also a flight attendant)

Galley Gossip: Passenger of the month – Christopher Elliott

Name? Christopher Elliott

Where do you live? Orlando, Florida

Occupation? I’m a travel journalist.


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