Since this series is as much about Aviation, as it is about travel, Its only fitting that Heather Poole, one of the most recognized #AvGeek on twitter, makes an appearance. Besides being the first lady, she will also be the first airline employee of the series, giving us a first hand inside look into the industry from her perspective.
Heather Poole has been working for a major US airline for over 18 years as Cabin crew and is a regular globetrotter. Her list of accomplishments also include a NY Times bestseller called “Cruising Altitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 feet”. Apart from that she also writes regularly for Gadling.com with her column called “Galley Gossip” and runs a pretty interesting blog too.
- First things first, what motivated you to travel, and become a flight attendant?
Heather – When I finally realised life was about amazing moments and new experiences, I knew what I wanted to do. I’ve been a flight attendant for almost 18 years now.
- As a flight attendant you often have a first hand view of people traveling to and back from their trips. What has been some of your most memorable travel and flight experiences?
Heather – My favourite trips tend to be the ones that were totally unplanned. I’ll never forget deciding at the last minute to hit the road with a colleague from work on a Friday afternoon. This was almost twenty years ago when I worked a regular 9-5 job on the ground. We drove from McAllen, Texas to Monterrey, Mexico for the weekend. We ate goat (a first), listened to guitar music under the stars, spent the night in a cottage on a mountain, and woke up early the next morning in the clouds. As a flight attendant, the nicest and most memorable layovers for me have more to do more with the people I meet than anything else. Once we landed late Christmas Eve in Bermuda. The man who picked us up at the airport and drove us to the hotel every week invited the entire crew over to his house on Christmas day for dinner. It was such a nice thing to do. This after having spent many Christmas dinners stuck at an overpriced hotel buffet.
- We know you work for a major American airline, do you have a favourite airline, if you’re allowed to answer this question ;)
Heather – Can I say my airline? I mean come on, they hired me! (After our competition didn’t.) I can’t tell you which carrier I work for because I’d like to keep my job, but it’s one of the big ones. And with that I’d like to thank all the frequent fliers who’ve helped me keep my secret. It’s got to be the worst best-kept secret in the world.
Also, I hear Cathay is pretty freakin nice. One day I’ll fly on them.
- Any preferred airport?
Heather – My favourite airport is Miami. Not to be confused with my favourite route! Because the NY-Miami is my least favourite route in the system. But as far as good food and people watching goes, you can’t beat Miami.
- And what about your favourite aircraft type? I bet it will be a Boeing ;)
Heather – Yep, I’m going to be sad to see the 767 go. I’ve worked that aircraft more than any of our other wide-body airplanes. I guess you could say I feel most at home on it.
- And I have read in one of your other interviews, that you’re fond of 777s as well. In all your worldwide travels, which has been your favourite city to travel to?
Heather – Anywhere we have a long layover that’s not at an airport hotel. All kidding aside, in the US I love spending time in San Francisco and Seattle. I’m based in NY, one of my favourite cities in the world and I live in LA, another pretty good place to be, so I’ve got those two cities covered. Right now I mostly fly domestic trips. My son is still pretty young so I don’t like to be away from home for too long.
- What advice would you give to budding travellers; those who are enamoured by it but still feel slightly befuddled with the idea of venturing into alien cultures.
Heather – My advice is to get out of your comfort zone, even if that means driving to a neighbouring city and checking out a new restaurant, park or museum. It doesn’t matter how far you go, as long as you go. You don’t have to jump on a plane and fly thousands of miles and spend a ton of money to experience something new.
- How do you like to prepare for your travel? Do you have a guide that you always turn to?
Heather – Frommer’s might be my favourite travel guide. But I spend WAY more time doing research online and getting advice from friends. One of my best vacations was a trip to Italy. I met a flight attendant on our flight to Rome who drew me a map of all her favourite places to go after I mentioned we would be staying in Positano. I visited every place she mentioned and it ended up being a spectacular trip. So don’t be afraid to talk to the flight crew. We like to talk. Plus we’re like cops; we know all the best places – that are cheap and good.
- What role do you think twitter has played in propagating travel at large?
Heather – I can’t imagine a world without twitter, and I mean that! You’ve got breaking news, travel advice, travel deals, and millions of people who can answer a question at the last minute about pretty much anything.
- And Finally, tell us couple of your must follow twitter accounts.
Heather – @PlaneBusiness for airline news
and, @FakeUnitedJeff for fun.
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