Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Changes will occur!

I started flying for Airtran on a whim, back in April 2010, but that is not when my love of Airtran began, nor my love for travel and planes.

I know here in Atlanta we are supposed to love Delta Airlines, but being a travel agent and seeing their customer service from my desk, I was never impressed, if I could even get through to them at all. If I called Airtran, I usually spoke to someone very personable that was sitting in Carrollton, Savannah or Atlanta- it was always the same, they helped me out with any need I had for my client and we carried on a very pleasant conversation while we worked. When I traveled, it was the same- Delta yes, they had meals, but they were usually served by some grumpy old flight attendant that acted like she hated her job. (I do have to say over the years Delta has got better, may it is because they have recently hired a lot of my friends!) Airtran would pass my pretzels out AND carry on a conversation with me. ValuJet was the first airline my kids flew on and we continued flying Airtran throughout their teenage years. Primarily because I would "earn" so many free tickets from work.
Throw back to commercial for valujet changing to Airtran

So you get the picture- I loved Airtran before I started working for them. Soon after I started, we got the news unexpectedly that we were going to merge with Southwest. I have always loved change, so I wasn't too scared, until I realized I was going to have to start commuting. Then I realized we were so small, I knew the people I was flying with, Southwest is huge- I will never see or fly with my friends! Will I ever be able to make friends?
Airtran Graduation 2010


 Some of my Airtan Memories!



 And the benefits of flying- taking my girls to Chicago for a little getaway!




New Friend

Well that change came December 19th- I went from Airtran over to Southwest and I have to say, I LUV it!!! Yes, commuting is hard AND EXPENSIVE, but I still love what I do. I am based in Houston, TX and now I am in love with Texas- my second home! The people I have met and flown with are awesome, and yes I am making friends! AND I am seeing my old friends too! 
Old Friends!
Don't be afraid of change, it will happen! Embrace it and hold on for the ride!!

Do you want to know how to "fly right"?

I know it seems like such a simple thing....going to the airport and getting on the airplane, but you would be amazed at the people that just don't do it right, or don't know know what to expect. I wanted to explain some of the important things you need to know about flying- my airline in particular, because we are new to the Atlanta market and we are a little different than other carriers. Plus, I have a lot of friends and family that will be flying us soon and I want them to have a smooth trip!

*Booking your trip- sign up for the Rapid Rewards program before you book. Go online and book your ticket, it is just that easy!

*Packing- I joke when I go on vacation that I follow a spread sheet, well it's not exactly untrue....My name is Traci and I am addicted to planning! Ok, folks first off decide on your travel outfit- make it something comfortable, simple and something that you can layer and take off, if the plane is hot and put on if it is cold! Southwest Airlines DOES not have blankets! Don't dress like a hoochy mama and get mad because you are cold. Don't wear belts, lace up sandals or shoes that are hard to put back on, you will be running to the plane barefoot and trying to dress in the jet bridge. Yes, I have seen that!
Second, you can check two bags for free at Southwest!! SO, that means you don't really need to bring all those carry-ons on board do ya? Items to pack in your carry-on, 1. an empty water bottle that you can fill once you get through security, that will save you about $6. 2.Headphones, we don't give them out and you can listen to music, watch movies and tv shows for free on our WIFI with Southwest. 3.make up, a change of clothes, any medication, enough of your essentials to have in case your checked luggage is lost. Please be able to lift this carry-on by yourself! It shouldn't be expected that a flight attendant will lift it for you! As far as that make up in your carry-on, here is the TSA requirements: You are allowed to bring one small bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint. These are limited to 3.4 ounces or less per container. Consolidating these containers in the small bag separate from your carry-on baggage enables TSA officers to screen them quickly.
3-1-1 for carry-ons. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container; must be in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. The bag limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring.

For your checked bags, you SHOULD NOT pack lithium batteries or ELECTRONIC cigarettes in  them. Make sure they are in your carry on. (BUT you may NOT use your E-Cig on the plane)
One more idea for packing that suitcase, take items of clothing that are interchangeable, and preferably wrinkle resistant. Don't pack any valuables, like diamond rings, computers or expensive cameras in your checked luggage.

*24 Hours prior to your trip-
1. THIS IS IMPORTANT FLYING SOUTHWEST!!! Check in on the computer, EXACTLY 24 hours prior, not 23 and not 25! This gives you the best boarding position and allows you to board first- the A or B group! This is especially important for people traveling together or families with children. OR you can purchase the early-bird check in  for $12.50 per ticket and get to check in 36 hours prior.
2. Pack your car and lay out all your documents, keys and anything else you are taking
3. Set your alarm, so that you will arrive at the airport 2 hours prior to your trip.
4. Practice lifting that carry-on over your head! If you can't do it, then re-think your packing.

*Day of Travel-
1. Arrive at the airport 2 hours prior, that will give you plenty of time and you won't be rushing. You never know about the TSA line or unexpected issues.
2. Bring your patience and leave your frustration at home. This is one industry where there will be delays, unexpected changes, rude behavior, and some down right nastiness- be prepared for it and SMILE through it! Being upset and ugly yourself, will get you no where, OR kicked off the flight.
3. It is an FAA rule and airlines can be fined a ton of money for allowing drunk passengers to fly, so wait till vacation to get hammered! EVEN if there is a delay and you can stay in the bar another hour throwing back the shots!
4. Watch your backpacks or any other carry-ons when you are getting on the plane. Don't go down the aisle and hit every passenger seated in the head!
5. Don't walk around the plane barefooted or allow your children to!
6. There are changing tables in the lavs, so don't change your baby's diaper in the seat, on the tray table, or on the floor of the galley.
7. Be nice to your flight attendants, we LOVE goody bags or just simple "we appreciate you's"!! Sometimes we work 11 hour days and don't get off the plane- just sayin! And speaking of Flight Attendants, we aren't a fan of making hot chocolate, hot tea or people that want to order two drinks at once- ESPECIALLY on short flights! If the flight is an hour or less, (unless you are dying of dehydration), do you REALLY need a drink at all??
8. AND parents- please take your car seat and buy little Johnny a seat! He should be used to riding in it in the car, so he shouldn't have a problem being buckled and safe. Plus, he will have his own seat and you won't have to sit and fight with him in your lap in a cramped space. If the seat belt sign is on, please don't get up with the child or allow him to get up! I don't want to see a child injured because a parent ignores the rules. Turbulence can happen at anytime,  it can not always be expected, and the seatbelt sign is on for a reason.
9. You can not go to the bathroom on the taxi-way- we will stop the plane and delay everyone!
10. Don't bring your own mini's, you can only drink our alcohol on the plane! (that dang FAA again)
11. Can't smoke E-cigs either! If our lav smells like cherry blossom we know you have been puffin, cause we know our lavs don't smell like cherry blossoms!


That's it for the do's and don'ts, sit back relax and enjoy your ride!!


It was important to write this blog, because I love my airline and I don't want to hear passengers complain and it is something THEY could have done to prevented their frustrations! Hopefully this helped you, and you will have a happy experience on our airline and love it as much as we do! Unfortunately, we can't do anything for you if you are unhappy with mechanical or weather delays, that is out of all of our hands! Thank you to all the flight attendants and travelers that helped with the writing of this blog!! If you have any ideas or suggestions that need to be added, please feel free to list them in the comment section!
***Disclaimer, these are my thoughts and the thoughts of my comrades, and not the views of Southwest Airlines!

Monday, February 23, 2015

A true love story!

The past eight years have been an interesting ride, but when I tell you I couldn't have done it without my better half, you better believe me!! God put him in my life at the exact moment that I needed him and he never left my side.

I was pretty broken (in more ways than one), when I hopped up on the bar stool at Willie Raes. It was a muggy hot night in July, with my sidekick Cindi by my side. We had been out walking and over to a MHS touchdown club meeting and decided to stop in for a drink. She was trying to cheer me up. Lloyd was there that night, sitting at the bar by himself. There were two empty stools beside him, so Cindi and I sat down. I had met Lloyd from the neighborhood and around town. I also knew his Mom, from the church and Cindi had gone to High School with him, so it wasn't like he was a complete stranger. After a few drinks, I went to the bathroom and that is when my sister decided to play matchmaker....not necessarily with Lloyd. She was asking if he knew ANYONE single that would ask me out- she was desperate for me!! Ha ha- anyone that knows the back story, knows why! Lloyd, said "no, he didn't know of anyone".
San Juan 2006-
My life has a plan!
Then next day while I was at work, I got a phone call from an unknown number. It was Lloyd asking me out! I wasn't sure I was ready, so the next week I made Cindi go with me to eat with him. Well needless to say, somewhere within those first couple of dates, we realized immediately that we were meant to be. I had spent my birthday on the beach just the month before, reading the book a Passion Test and contemplating my life and what would make me happy. I made a list of what I wanted and what I wanted to accomplish in life, I had a plan! It wasn't to find a guy in a bar and marry him within 7 months! It was to make sure I didn't "SETTLE". I was going to look for specific things in my next relationship and I wouldn't waste my time on someone that didn't possess those requirements.



When I met Lloyd, I know that he was what I wanted and with him I could accomplish all that was on my passion list. He made the cut, very quickly. He had the same background as me- grew up in Marietta, raised in the 1st Methodist Church, same ideas about life and family. He understood what my requirements were and they were totally in line with what he was looking for!  By October we were engaged, and February 24th we were married! Our two families had come together and everyone was happy!!
Our blended family! Cape San Blas 2/24/07
Very quickly my dreams started coming true! #1 on my list was to "make a home that my kids wanted to come home to and feel comfortable in" Lloyd took that challenge seriously in his remodel project of our house on Wright Street- everything I have asked for he has built and made into reality! To say he is the most talented person I know, is an understatement!
My kitchen island, cabinets, and door my husband built!
Together we added a #1.1 to my passion list- "to have a place where we can get away from it all, with our kids, grand kids and friends. That place is Towee! So there he is making our dreams come true in the form of a little cabin, a farm, 33 acres, great friends and good times! 
 Lloyd has also been my biggest support system for other dreams I had, even when it didn't involve him. I wanted to make a difference in some small way to women,  to step out of my box follow my dreams, and be a role model for my girls. I tried to accomplish some of those goals with the Pink Suitcase Sisters, Infinity Travel and raising money and awareness for Cancer. Going to training to be a flight attendant was defiantly stepping out of that box and following a dream that had a long time ago been forgotten. Every step I took with my endeavors Lloyd was there cheering me on.

Another top of my list item was to be with a man that my kids respected and could learn from- yes, he passes that test with flying colors! Bradley said it best the other day, "I have tried to explain Lloyd to people, but it is hard. I have never met a man that knows more about everything and can do anything."  He is pretty funny to go along with that! Here in his Egyptian tablecloth shirt and camos, JUST because Kristi and I are making them take a family picture!
Lloyd is my rock, my biggest cheerleader, my cook, my mechanic, my builder, my dryer fixer, my teacher, my gardener, my grits grinder, my love, my everything!

 
I could not have gone through cancer with out him by my side! I know he was hurting for me so bad inside, but he hid it, so he could provide me with the strength I needed from him. He didn't care that I lost my hair or my breast, in fact he still contends to this day that I am prettiest without hair! No other man would have been able to offer me the support and love that he did through that time! No one else could have made me laugh as they shaved my head! Looking back on the pictures of the two of us during that time, I can see his pain and his love so clearly. I saw it when all was said and done and I spoke at the Making Strides Walk and he was standing there crying....I had to look away! There is never a doubt that he loves me! 
Thank you for the security that you instill in my life EVERY day!!
Shaving my hair on Black Friday
Last day of chemo and Valentines Day

Making Strides Walk, after my speech
We have so many blessings in our life and so many more memories to make! Happy Anniversary to my better half!! I love you with all my heart and soul! 
The first grand boy!!

Homer pointing at his baby cousins

The first Grand Girl!

Baby blessings galore

Red Rider BB gun tradition with Papa

My 3 boys- my heart!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015

As I sit here sending out my text messages to some of my special peeps, I realize what this year is to us! Two years ago I was in the middle of chemo and freaking out about cancer. Last year I was recouping from my second shoulder surgery, hoping that it was going to work and wondering if I could go back to the job I loved. THIS YEAR 2015- I find myself healthy (except for this ear infection) and back at work- for a new company, Southwest. I am doing what I love. I have become a "double" Grand Mom this year. We are so blessed and they are precious.

It is also the year that me and all my "way back girlfriends" turn 50. That just blows me away! It seems like only yesterday that me and Kelley would sit and talk in high school about how we wanted to get a convertible Mercedes for our 50th birthday- so stupid but the Mercedes we wanted back then was a current model, not a new futuristic one....not so stupid now, I would still rather have an old classic, than a new one!

 Priorities also change as we get older also, or is it just because I had the cancer scare? Mercedes don't really matter, spending as much time with my love ones and "living" is the most important. (Doesn't mean I wouldn't jump up and down for a convertible) but doing things and making memories with the ones I love is the most important. Last year I gave a journal to Lloyd for Christmas and it has stuff I wanted us to do- my New Years resolution is to start marking off those pages and living life. 50 is an important year and I am so glad I made it here!!

A toast to all my girls turning 50 this year- embrace it and start living it!! To my husband that puts up with me, thanks you are the best, I love ya! To my kids, y'all need to hold tight to those babies, they grow up really quickly! I love y'all!! Happy New Years to all my friends and love ones!








Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thankful- Thanksgiving 2014

2014- Wow what a year and how very thankful I am this Thanksgiving season!!
I might get deep and emotional in this post, so stop ready here if that offends you.

Today I saw my third grandchild being born. This one was extra special because from the time my first born little girl Kristi, was in this world- all I could imagine, was her one day becoming a mother. When I went through the cancer, all I could think of was not being here to live out that dream. Today that milestone was met with open arms. To be there for Peyton's birth and to be standing alongside her sister as she helped to deliver this baby, was incredible. That room was so filled with love- We were all present, Krisit"s sister and best friend Brittany, Me, her dad, her mother-in-love and Bradley, the love of her life. To see this miracle and to experience this love is the most humbling experience.
If anyone says they don't believe in God, they have never been brought to their knees asked and begged for a positive outcome or a miracle, and been given that, AND more! There is no way someone can watch the miracle of childbirth (that is truly the only way to describe it) and not believe it is not guided by God's hand. This morning we saw the presence of God, love, and miracles. For that my life is blessed and my request fulfilled to be here for that birth. How could I be thankful for more?
BUT I AM!!
Not only was I able to be around for Peyton's birth, but God blessed me with Brittany's surprise, Baby Kinsley. I have to say....probably because I am her grandmom, but there is not a better, more precious baby girl, than that one born 4 months (to the day) before Peyton! That little girl holds my heart and
 I am so thankful for her. 16 is now my lucky number!!
7/16/2014 "Baby Girl" Kinsley Carter Howell and 11/16/2014 "P Daddy" Peyton West Horne
Brittany came up with both of the nicknames. The stress of Kinsley's birth and the prayers that were answered on that one- is just another slap in the face that God is real and I have so much to be thankful for!
The third little guy in my Grand Mom trilogy is Homer. What a little man!! He lights up my world- and because God put Lloyd in my life and he is an amazing man, I got my bonus son- Jim who in turn gave me our first grandson Homer- born on our Anniversary. And of course behind any awesome man, is an awesome mother- so there is Janet, my daughter-in-love. I am so thankful to have a son, finally and for that son to be such an awesome, different, child of mine!! I am so thankful for having that little family in our life.
Then other thing that is truly a blessing and I am SO thankful for, is my health. There was a time that I thought this stupid shoulder would never be healed. Or that Stupid Cancer would beat me. This year has proved it different! I healed from my second shoulder surgery and I went back to work!!! YES, I was able to return to a job I love and I am now turning a page and moving on to Southwest and starting a whole new chapter in that novel. (Stay tuned folks!!)
Lastly, all of this would not be possible without the amazing man I have standing by my side. Lloyd was truly a gift from God. He appeared at a low point in my life, he showed me unconditional love, he nursed me back to health through shoulder surgeries and cancer, he cooked for me and encouraged me, and he always supported my crazy dream of being a flight attendant. I know I could never be thankful for all the above things without him standing by my side!!
I am blessed and I am thankful! Thankful to God for all he has given me. There is so much more to mention, but right now: after being up all night birthing a baby, I am too tired to go into detail= I will list just a few.
I am Thankful for:
My Mom- and the time I am still able to spend with her.
My Sister- who I couldn't do without
My Amazing Friends- you all know who you are!!

Thanksgiving 2014 has given me all the blessings I could ask for!! It goes down in the history books for me!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 11, never forget

I can't help but think about the events of 9/11, not just because I am now a flight attendant; but because at this moment I am staring at Boston's Logan Airport,  from my hotel. This is where some of the monsters boarded planes with the sole purpose of killing Americans.


I know tomorrow my heart will hurt for the 25 flight attendants killed and their families. I will remember how they were the front line of this attack and how brave and calm they were in the face of this evil. I know I joke about my job and passing the pretzels, but I also take it seriously. I take security and safety seriously.  My heart will hurt for ALL the victims of this attack.

I also know that the threat of another attack is high right now. We, as flight attendants need to be alert and aware of our surroundings. We also need to stand up for our safety and make sure that TSA and DHS are requiring the proper identification for passengers boarding planes. We need to continue the fight to keep knives off the plane. Most of all we need to be alert to odd behavior and security breaches of any kind.

Every year at this time we remember the brutal attacks made on this day in 2001, but we need to remember EVERY day! We need to remember how easily, how calculated and how ruthless these attacks were! Take time to watch some of the broadcast again, or listen to Bety Ong make her phone call. Take a moment to reflect, again. Please never forget. There were so many heroes that day, starting with the flight attendants, and ending with the fire fighters, God bless them all! ..............
8:46
9/11/01


Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 24th- Cancerversary

Today even though I surrounded myself with my love ones and woke up with two of my kids here with their babies, I still woke and had this panicky feeling. Something was off and just not right. I had no clue what it was until I looked at my phone to check my flight schedule. Today was Doom Day, Today was the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. Lloyd prefers me not to even bring up that day or that anniversary, but it sneaks up on me and takes my breathe, without even knowing. I have spent the past couple of months focusing on work and the girls and their pregnancies, but today the C word came back to haunt me and grab my breathe and sit on my chest. I can't escape the date, I can't not think about it and yes, I think about the fact that I am cancer-free, but it also panics me to remember August 24, 2012.
That day I found out that within a minute, life changes. Life can turn black in an instant. So, it can't be ignored, so let's toast the day my life changed. Cancer, you suck, I beat your ass and I became a new person because of you- now get the hell out of my thoughts I have living to do, here's to all the August 25th's!! Tomorrow is another day and I have too much to be thankful for-

 My mom and my grand baby, Kinsley