First off, I’m thrilled to announce that The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America (Unofficial Guides, 2016) is now on bookshelves! My brother found a copy at Barnes & Noble in the Denver area while I’ve seen it gracing the shelves at local Minnesota stores. Speaking of the lovely B&N bookstore, August 6th & 13th I will be partaking in a dream author event: a book signing at Barnes & Noble at, you guessed it, Mall of America featuring my new release. The book signings will take place starting at noon both days with no set end time.
Will I see you there?
14955 Galaxie Avenue, Apple Valley, MN 55124
If you’ve never read the column this is how it works…the columnist works with a trainer, registered dietitian and life coach throughout the year, while writing a monthly diary for the print issue of Shape Magazine and blogging once or twice weekly for the website. She shares struggles, successes, tips, recipes and offers inspiration as she works toward her goals.
My gym is Life Time Fitness and I have to rave about how they have stepped up to the plate to offer guidance as well as my trainer, dietitian and other resources to ensure my success. My life coach also has ties with Life Time as a fitness instructor. They will all be introduced in my Shape column soon.
You can following along in the print magazine and read more about the steps I am and will be taking to lead a healthier life on the Shape blog which will contain all of my posts. As for social media, I’ll be tweeting from @ShapeWLDiary which will also be launching soon.
This is going to be an exciting year!
While it’s impossible to share everything we discussed, I am posting the powerpoint I used as our visual. The main take-away is that freelancers are evolving and cover a wide spectrum of media. PR should take this into consideration when they work with freelancers.
Most people don’t know the difference between commercial aircraft. But when you fly frequently you will begin to notice subtle aircraft differences and eventually that observation and knowledge becomes second nature. Before long you can tell from the ground what type of aircraft is up above making a descent or what model you’re boarding for a flight. And after a while you have your preferences.
This is especially true when you work the aircraft, whether you’re actually in control of the plane as captain or first officer or working the cabin as a flight attendant. For example, when I worked as a flight attendant on the Boeing 737 I adored the new (at the time) 700 series. There were air flush lavatories, leather seats and everything was new and shiny. On the other hand, I dreaded the 200 series. The lavs had blue juice, the engines were too loud and when passengers sat down the fabric cushions produced a fog-like cloud of peanut dust.
When I first started at what is considered a regional or connection carrier I wasn’t sure what I would think of the Embraer aircraft. I had lived by the philosophy, if it’s ain’t Boeing I ain’t going.
The Embraer 170 and 175 were much smaller than what I was used to, but it ends up these little guys are great aircraft. And as for the coined term “regional”, that’s pretty much false. I ended up flying way outside of the regional realm. Based out of Minneapolis, I traveled down to Florida, New Orleans and Houston and up to Saskatoon and Vancouver, Canada.
From day one I noticed passengers saying, Wow! This is a much bigger regional aircraft than I expected. Most passengers can stand up straight and there isn’t a need for gate checking luggage since the overhead bins fit average sized carry-ons. The seats are comfortable and there’s plenty of under the seat space for bags since there’s no dividing bar. The seat headrests bend and move up and down to accommodate all heights. Best of all, there is no middle seat which guarantees everyone is comfortable.
Passenger comfort aside, it’s also an ideal aircraft to work on as a flight attendant for a number of reasons. The engines aren’t terribly loud, the galleys are easy to work in, and because there are only two flight attendants needed on the aircraft there are two extra jumpseats on the 175 and one on the 170 in case one breaks or a co-worker needs to get home to work. There are also a number of other features that make life easier, too…
1. Flight Attendants control the temperature. At my former airlines temperature conversation went like this.
Me: Hi, Captain. Could you cool it off? It’s very cold in the back of the plane.
Me: Hi, it’s me again. Now it’s too hot.
Me: Hello…sorry to bother you again. It’s still really warm. People are feeling faint.
Captain: The other flight attendant just called and said it’s too cold in the front of the plane.
On the Embraer both flight attendants have temperature control: one for the front, one for the back.
2. The door arming lever is an easy up/down handle. Not every airplane door is alike but I can’t tell you how much I loved not having to bend over and fasten a grimy, sticky girt bar to the floor latches when arming the door’s emergency slide. It’s also nice that the flight deck has an armed indicator so the pilots can tell us if the door didn’t arm or disarm properly.
3. Cabin viewing window. I’ve sat on many jumpseats that have a view of a blank bulkhead wall, but on these Embraers there are viewing windows so the flight attendant can see everything that’s going on in the cabin while sitting in the jumpseat. On the 175 the window can close – which is great for night flights when the people in the last row are sleeping. This photo is of the 170. It’s a tinted plexiglass window.
And in a nutshell, that is why I loved working the Embraer 170 and 175. My question for you is…do you have a favorite aircraft?
Some days are fun and full of comradery and laughter while other days can only be described as so intense that you hope you never have to relive a day like that again. Tests are almost daily and vary from written fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions (which must be passed with an 80% or higher) to evacuation commands which must be said verbatim. In other words, if you miss one word it’s considered a fail and you have to pull a do-over. By then end, every student knows the cabin and it’s safety features and before long it becomes our second home.
Below are some photos taken throughout the month-long training to give you an idea of what flight attendant training is like.
This is our Flight Attendant Manual (FAM), also known as our Flight Attendant Bible. You can’t tell how thick it is, but believe me, it is. We read every word. It’s a mandatory item when we fly and if we forget it we’re grounded.
Emergency equipment. We have to preflight (make sure it’s operational) each piece of equipment every time we board an aircraft.
Here’s a video of us inflating our life vests. That’s me on the far right. (refresh the page if you can’t see it).
Ready to fight the fire with my Protective Breathing Equipment (PBE).
And we did get to practice fighting a galley fire at the airport.
We donned the flight deck oxygen.
Jumping down the emergency slide is mandatory. It’s much steeper than it looks.
We spent a lot of time in the cabin trainer rehearsing “what if” scenerios.
One night we were at the airport until 3 am for hands-on aircraft experience.
Finally, Graduation Day!
And here I am now… once again an official flight attendant. And loving every moment…
Warning: Like clowns, not all kids are comfortable being around these over-sized, colorful characters. Fortunately, they don’t phase my offspring.
If you’d like to learn more, read the tips on my post Mall of America Character Meet and Greet on The Vacation Gals. In the meantime, here are some of our Mall of America (MOA) meet and greet photos:
Dora and Diego
Sharky the Mall of America’s Underwater Adventures Aquarium mascot
Spongebob and Patrick
Dora and Boots
Bubba Gump Shrimp
Wonder Pets: Ming-Ming and Linny
I know that one day the kids won’t be as enthralled to pose with characters, but for now I’m grateful for these fun meet and greet moments at Mall of America. They’re only little for so long.
More recently though, you might remember the HomeAway Super Bowl advertising campaign featuring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. Well, the Wagon Queen Family Truckster featured in the commercial is on the road this summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day promoting HomeAway vacation rentals. The wagon is stopping at destinations across America and this past weekend it came though the Twin Cities. The timing was perfect because it was the weekend of the Minnesota Red Bull Flugtag (homemade flying contraption competition) and there was an entry called Team Griswold, aka Team 20. The Family Truckster Team designed the green station wagon with wings! We attended the event and even saw Team Griswold “fly.” It looked great and even came in 3rd place (the world record was broken by the 1st place winner). After that we headed over to Minneapolis restaurant Joe’s Garage where the Truckster was parked.
HomeAway had asked me if I’d like to be part of their promotion and ride in the Truckster as one of their bloggers this summer. I had to decline but my friend Jennifer Miner is going to be representing The Vacation Gals on a stretch of the trip departing from Seattle this weekend. She’ll have a great time.
While I didn’t get to ride in the Truckster my family did snap some photos with this famous station wagon. If you do the same as it comes through your town, be sure to enter the contest on Facebook. HomeAway is giving away a few vacations this summer.
I know flying seems like a far-fetched dream for some people but the Let’s Go Flying program really is a great way for future pilots to get a sample of flying, learn some terminology and fall in love with the adventure – because after you do it once, it’s very likely you will want to return.
You can read more about my flying experience on The Vacation Gals.