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My Michigan trip, Part 4 – Southwest Airlines’ flights

Looking out the plane window at the clouds - love it!

Looking out the plane window at the clouds – love it!

This is my Michigan trip blog series, part 4 – Southwest Airlines’ flights.

You can read part 1 (God has surprises in store) by clicking here;

part 2 (the beautiful RV) here;

part 3 (the Encounter ministry weekend) here.

me at Lake Michigan

me at Lake Michigan

I love flying on planes. It never ceases to amaze me when the plane is taking off so fast, how man has created something that flies in the air over the clouds, inspired by God creating the birds.

Yes, I love traveling, period. It is so fun (usually!) and makes me so happy, visiting new places, seeing new people and things, and trying new kinds of food! God has blessed me and my family, enabling us to travel to different states and other nations, for mission trips, business, and fun!

 

Me working as a flight attendant for Mesa Airlines

Me working as a flight attendant for Mesa Airlines

I have a motto for traveling: “Pack light, take lots of pics, and have fun!” As a former flight attendant, I learned how to pack light for faster and easier traveling (usually just my roller board for the plane). It was one of the most fun jobs that I’ve had ever had in my life. I loved it!

One of the great perks of my job was being able to fly free on my days off work, and my immediate family, too. I flew Ray and Leah to Orlando, where she saw the beach and ocean for the first time in her life, and to New York for us to see Niagara Falls. We crossed over to the Canadian side to see the falls there, too –it was breathtakingly beautiful! We went to Sea World, where she rode her first roller coaster, a water ride, and we petted and fed dolphins- two dolphins came up to Leah! So awesome! She had the biggest smile on her face and I did, too.

I also flew to Portland, Maine alone one weekend to see a beautiful lighthouse and huge boulders on the coast and watched amazing sail boats in the ocean. I saw the “whaling wall” (pun for the wailing wall in Jerusalem) and took a shuttle tour around the city. I was able to fly home to see my family on time off work, but not nearly enough!

If I had worked there at Mesa airlines longer, I have no doubt that my family and I would have traveled much more to different, exciting places. It is a big reason that people work for airlines, to bless them and their families. I was also able to sight see pretty cool stuff alone, in various cities on the southeast coast when I got off work. One specific thing that comes to mind is a Pompeii volcano museum exhibit in Alabama. I had dreams of traveling to other nations, but those trips came later. (In a different way – God provided! He’s a miracle worker!)

But my base was in Orland, Florida, and my family lived in Missouri. I just missed my kids too much to be that far away from them (I would cry in the jump seat on the plane, missing them!), so I resigned after working about six months, at Christmas time. 

me with Ray and Leah when I worked for the airlines

me with Ray and Leah when I worked for the airlines

Travel hack: Usually when I travel, I don’t check a bag but take a small roller board piece and a personal item (like a small backpack or large purse) to carry on board the plane. I’ve learned to roll my clothes. This sometimes can make more room than just packing clothes flat. You can also use packing cubes, which I bought both our daughters Heather and Leah for their trips this year.  (You can watch different packing tutorials on YouTube.) That way, I don’t have to worry about my luggage getting lost and being without clothes and essentials for my trip!

Travel tip: Different airlines have different requirements for luggage, so be sure to check it before you pack and go to the airport! For this trip, I did check a larger suitcase, because everyone needed sheets and a pillow for the Encounter ministry camp’s bunk bed and I couldn’t fit all that into just one small roller board. 

Travel Hack: Pack your toiletries and other essentials (makeup, contacts’ saline solution, little bottles of shampoo and conditioner and lotions, Tylenol, and any needed medication, in your roller board and/or backpack, purse, or bag to take on the PLANE. You don’t want any things you really NEED to possibly get LOST on checked baggage! I also recommend taking an extra outfit, underwear, and socks in the roller board or bag with you on the plane, just in case of lost luggage. Hopefully, that won’t happen to you or me!

Bunk bed at Encounter ministry camp

Bunk bed at Encounter ministry camp

One time when flying back to Kansas City, Missouri, my checked big luggage did get lost. I had to wait a couple of days for the airline to locate it and then Ray and I had to drive the over-hour drive to the airport and back to get it! 

I put a silver, curly ribbon on top of my black roller board’s handle to help identify it in the overhead compartment on the plane. So many people use small, black roller boards! You can also use cute luggage tags, like a purple one of mine which reads, “Adventure awaits!”

Silver ribbon for roller board

Silver ribbon for roller board

 

Tags for our luggage

Tags for our luggage

On my recent Michigan trip, a friend paid for my planes’ fares (thank You, Jesus!), and booked me on Southwest Airlines, which is THE best ever!

Southwest Airlines is THE best!

Southwest Airlines is THE best!

They are efficient, professional –and funny! Some of the flight attendants make jokes after the announcements, like the one on the flight from Kansas City, Missouri to Chicago, who concluded with enthusiasm, “We’re in Chicago! Whoo hoo!” Everyone on the plane laughed.

I like to dress comfortably when traveling. For this trip, I wore a lightweight, palm trees’ leaves shirt with 3/4 length sleeves, black “skinny” pants, ankle socks, and lace-less, white sneakers (what I call my “airport shoes” so I don’t have to tie and untie shoe laces, when going through the busy, hectic security lines).

Me ready for my Michigan trip

Me ready for my Michigan trip

I also carried my cute, comfy blue jean jacket to wear in the airport and on the flight, because planes can get cold. You might take a hoodie, shawl, or lightweight jacket during the spring/summer months or a heavier coat for fall and winter. (Planes no longer usually provide blankets for passengers on planes.) YouTube also has many video tips on what to wear, pack, and NOT pack for your trip.

Me in my comfy jean jacket on the plane

Me in my comfy jean jacket on the plane

Southwest Airlines has superior service to other airlines, in my opinion. I also love Southwest Airlines’ sharp, professional-looking uniform and its colors (orange, blue, and white), and its heart logo. (I’m a heart girl!) When I worked as a flight attendant for Mesa (smaller jets servicing Delta), a Southwest Airlines flight attendant encouraged me on a shuttle one night to apply at Southwest. She said it is the best company, with the best pay and benefits! I seriously considered doing that, before resigning to go home to my family!

Southwest Airlines flight attendant's pretty uniform

Southwest Airlines flight attendant’s pretty uniform

 

Southwest Airlines heart logo

Southwest Airlines heart logo

 

I love flying with Southwest!

I love flying with Southwest!

While taking a selfie on the plane, apparently this woman and this man in back of me didn’t like being in the pic! They don’t look too pleased! As long as I look good, I wouldn’t mind someone taking my pic on a plane!!

Taking a selfie. Apparently this woman and this man in back of me didn't like that!

Taking a selfie. Apparently this woman and this man in back of me didn’t like that!

One thing that I love doing at airports is people-watching: their clothes and shoes (red raccoon tshirts, or even colorful socks!); their behavior; and their responses to problems, such as when a flight attendant was very late to the flight, and a long line of people were waiting at the gate, frustrated. It’s fascinating. As a speaker and author, I also listen (eavesdrop!) to conversations for interesting, new content!

people watching at the airport

people watching at the airport

 

I enjoy people-watching in airports - their clothes and shoes, their behavior, and their responses to problems.

I enjoy people-watching in airports – their clothes and shoes, their behavior, and their responses to problems.

 

A random man's colorful socks & loafers at the airport

A random man’s colorful socks & loafers at the airport

 

Line of frustrated passengers when the flight attendant was late

Line of frustrated passengers when the flight attendant was late

 

Random man with red raccoon shirt, lol

Random man with red raccoon shirt, lol

I also like signs at the airports. Some are encouraging, like this one about your business taking off and the one about adventure awaiting you! Amen!

Business sign

Business sign

 

Adventure sign - love it!

Adventure sign – love it!

Travel hack: Bottles of filtered water at the airport are ridiculously expensive ($3 to $5, or more!), but you can buy one, and then (if you trust it!), refill the bottle with water from fountains at the airport several times. It’s important to stay hydrated when you travel, especially when you fly! 

You can buy a bottled water & then refill it at the airport fountains

You can buy a bottled water & then refill it at the airport fountains

I like to browse the airport shops, although they too have insane prices for gum, books, little souvenirs, etc. If I wasn’t able to buy postcards (one of my fave things to buy myself and my family) or a small souvenir for them on my trip, I may stop by one of these shops to get a last-minute purchase before going home. But I prefer finding good deals at the place of my trip’s destination (and not making a rushed decision!). These shops offer overpriced items that are really useless, but fun, like these flower pens.

flower pens at airport

flower pens at airport

Oooh, I really wanted one of these Chicago jersey-style hoodies for myself. Not that I’m into sports (for Chicago or any city!), but I just thought it was cute and looked comfy. Besides, wouldn’t I look so cool wearing a Chicago hoodie around Kansas City, Missouri? LOL! But I passed–maybe until next time I’m in Chicago! (Speaking by faith.)

Chicago jersey

Chicago jersey

As an author, books always appeal to me wherever I go. This book in the pic below with the colorful letters spelling “Husbands” caught my eye. I’ve had three of them, and I’m still trying to figure out this marriage thing. But I didn’t buy it or any book there. I had brought several books in my checked luggage, that I never got around to reading on the trip. 

Books at airport shop

Books at airport shop

Of course, one reason people love airports is the FOOD! It’s often high priced, but you’re not allowed to bring drinks and food past security when you first board a plane, so either you hold out until your ultimate destination, or you wind up shelling out a bunch of money for tacos, cheeseburgers and fries, wings, or the like at the next airport! This is usually the case with me. I like to eat!

Chicago restaurant

Chicago restaurant

Travel tip: You do NOT want to order hot coffee or tea on a plane, as pleasant as that may sound, relaxing, reading on your Kindle or iPad, and drinking a cup of hot coffee during the flight. The coffee and tea are made with tap water that comes from the plane’s water tanks. It’s considered unsafe, since the tanks that hold the water are rarely cleaned and it may be too risky. Wait until you arrive at the airport.

Drinking hot coffee or tea on a plane is a no-no! Wait until you reach the airport!

Drinking hot coffee or tea on a plane is a no-no! Wait until you reach the airport!

Travel hack: Usually, I try to eat home-made banana bread and drink a hot creamy coffee before going to the airport, though. This reminds me of the delicious banana bread and coffee that I had in Antigua, Guatemala when traveling there! Guatemala has amazing coffee around every corner!

Cafe Barista cappucino and banana bread

Cafe Barista cappuccino and banana bread

I spotted a Dunkin’s coffee shop when I arrived in Chicago – whoo hoo! Sadly, they only had hot regular coffee and not any specialty cold or hot coffees. I ordered one and a chocolate frosted doughnut, but winded up taking only a few sips and throwing out the coffee! It just wasn’t as good as their hot lattes. 

Line at Dunkin's

Line at Dunkin’s

 

Dunkin's chocolate doughnut & hot coffee

Dunkin’s chocolate doughnut & hot coffee

But I still “needed” my morning joe! Ray and I had left at 3 a.m. to get to Kansas City International airport by 4 a.m, to ensure that I had plenty of time going through security and getting to my gate for the early bird flight to Chicago.

Side story that is funny now, but NOT at the time. I had used my iPhone in my car for GPS navigation for Ray to take me to the airport, and Ray drove OFF with my phone still in the holder on the car’s windshield! When I realized inside the airport that he had my iPhone, I waited outside by the curb and prayed for him to come back before getting home! He did. I scolded him for not remembering to give it to me, as I had asked him to do before we got to the airport! I’m so thankful that he came back in sufficient time, before my flight! I realize that I should keep up with my own phone, but there was a lot on my mind…and apparently on Ray’s mind, too. He had already driven me in a circle, while trying to find the airport drop-off location! (MCI recently renovated inside and outside the airport; it is HUGE and confusing if you haven’t been there in awhile!)

But back to my hunt for coffee! I found a little coffee shop close to my gate. I wasn’t familiar with the brand, Big Shoulders Coffee, so I asked the clerk if the coffee was strong or not. Looking bored, she said, “Medium roast.” I gave her just a $1.00 tip and she looked quite surprised. Don’t they tip in Chicago? I sipped this as I sat, waiting for my next flight to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I've never tried Big Shoulders coffee brand before. It was decent.

I’ve never tried Big Shoulders coffee brand before. It was decent.

I also finally tried Chicago-style pizza at the airport on my return flight home! For lunch, I ordered a small, thin-crust one, because this place, Home Run Inn, didn’t have the thick crust. The clerk who worked there told me that there’s much better-tasting pizza outside the airport, and she likes the thick crust best.

I hope to travel to Chicago longer one day, see the Bean Sculpture and take a pic by it, and try BOTH kinds of Chicago-style pizza with Ray!

The Bean Sculpture, Chicago, Illinois

The Bean Sculpture, Chicago, Illinois

Ray used to live in Chicago when he was in the military (Navy over 14 years as a combat medic), and he prefers the thin crust pizza. Which do you like better if you’ve tasted them before? 

Apparently, it’s a thing at the Chicago airport to drink at the bar, eat pizza, and watch sports or movies on the tv. I ate mine in a seat by the gate.

Chicago pizza/sports bar

Chicago pizza/sports bar

 

I finally tried Chicago style pizza! It is so good!

I finally tried Chicago style pizza! It is so good!

 

Chicago pepperoni thin-crust pizza

Chicago pepperoni thin-crust pizza

I had been fasting some for a situation prior to my Michigan trip, and only ate 2 very small pieces of pizza, but I’d love to try it again – the thick crust next time! Unfortunately, I think that I may have gotten food poisoning in Chicago at the airport, probably from the pizza! (I was sick for a few days, throwing up a little, when I returned home. Thank God I’m okay now.)

One advantage of an early bird (morning) or evening flight is seeing the beautiful sunrises and sunsets out the plane window. It’s so peaceful and often quiet at these times of day.

A view of the beautiful sunrise out the plane's windows

A view of the beautiful sunrise out the plane’s windows

I was a little surprised that Southwest Airlines doesn’t assign seats. You board according to your group and number, and then you just choose a seat yourself. Wasn’t anyone going to fight over the seats? But nobody did. How would they know which passenger was in what seat, in the event of an emergency, God forbid?

Southwest Airlines doesn't choose your seat; you do (within your group and number).

Southwest Airlines doesn’t choose your seat; you do (within your group and number).

The closest thing that came to a seat fight was when I politely asked the random man beside me if he’d trade seats with me, so I could sit in an aisle seat (closer to bathroom in case I were to need it, and that way I don’t feel claustrophobic, being trapped by the window). I’d already bothered him once getting up to use the restroom. (He was trying to sleep, and had his eyes closed, when I poked his arm, apologizing.)

I love looking out the window on planes and seeing the beautiful land or ocean, but I like having an escape if needed! He said NO, frowning at me, and firmly telling me that this was HIS aisle seat and that he had chosen it. Well, alrighty then! I just forgave him and prayed that I could stay in MY seat for the rest of the flight. (I did. Thank You, Jesus!)

Detroit sign

Detroit sign

On the return flight home, I wore a royal-blue Calvin Klein dress that was $40 at Ross, but I got it on sale for just $12.99. I wore it with ankle socks, my white lace-less sneakers, and my blue jean jacket again…cute and so comfy! I love a good deal!

I was thankful that ALL my flights went smoothly, going there and coming back home. Southwest Airlines rocks!

Me in comfy Calvin dress & sneakers

Me in comfy Calvin dress & sneakers

 

Southwest Airlines rocks!

Southwest Airlines rocks!

I loved seeing my friends Herb and Diane in Michigan. I wonder where I’ll go next for an exciting trip? I can’t wait! Have luggage, will travel!

Me, ready to go where God wants me to go!

Me, ready to go where God wants me to go!

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