I have the impression that people can be divided to those who LOVE the United Stated and those who, euphemistically saying, not quite love them. Since I was 19, during my whole studies, I was travelling to the US. I visited all states from Philadelphia to Key West and from Seattle to Mexico. I used to love the United States. My love ended when they terrorized all the airports in the world. Almost all airports.
Latin America is also unsubordinated in this respect (Mexico is treated as one of US provinces, so they have even more strict than their BIG BROTHER). I feel safe and secure on the plane – I have been flying since I was three months old – every year I fly more and more… I love flying because for me it’s a moment when, at last, nobody wants anything from me and my time starts – that’s why I react so touchy for any manifestations of stepping into my privacy. However, I observe a lot of people at the airport who think of flying as of something scaring, unpleasant and uncertain, so they treat everything I hate as a calming pill. They want to know that everything is checked, supervised and all threats are eliminated. Those people pull their shoes off, even if they don’t need to. It’s ok if they need this instead of valerian intake. As for me – firstly, I like flying. Secondly – as a daughter of an aviation engineer – I know that most of these actions are only to mute the conscience.
There is a million of reasons why I love flying and two millions of reasons why I love Latin America – among them a lot of common reasons (even if not always and not everywhere they are satisfied – the atmosphere remains) why it is better to fly in Latin America than anywhere else.
- You don’t have to take your computer out
Never, absolutely NEVER will I understand why I should take my computer, tablet and the rest of my devices out! I am travelling with a whole bag of equipment (laptop, iPad, 2 iPhones, camera with 3 interchangeable lenses, GoPro + all cables), so when I have three stopovers, those several hours of running between terminals are a nightmare to me.
– Do I have to take my computer out?
– Senorita, why are you in such hurry? Please, relax – you are about to start your holidays. We will scan your bag and afterwards we can grab some coffee – the computer may stay where it is.
- You don’t have to return water, wine or any bottles
I even don’t like drinking water, so I have never had one with me. Yet, the mere fact that I can’t is terribly irritating.
– Wait a second – I need to give you my water.
– Sweetheart – the only thing you have to give me is your telephone number. Then we will go and have such a nice wine that you won’t need any water at all.
– So I don’t need to give you my bottle?
– The only thing you have to give me is your heart.
Please, remind yourself now of Okęcie or Frankfurt and what happens when you ACCIDENTALLY forget about a bottle of water in your bag?
- You don’t have to watch for 100 ml
This year, I travelled a lot with small airlines where you can take only 10 kilos of luggage.
– Seniorita, maybe you will take this bag with you, you won’t have to wait for your luggage afterwards.
– But I have cosmetics, shampoo and hair conditioner there.
– If you care for your hygiene so much, it would be better if you have them with you.
– Well, you know, normally you can’t have bigger bottles than 250ml, so I thought…
– Can you please not wash your hair on a plane? There is no hairdryer and I don’t want senorita to catch a cold.
- They don’t check your bag as if you were Bin Laden’s nephew
I hate being treated like this at European and American airports. I think that they treat everyone as if they are terrorists and hope to find a real one eventually, which will justify their actions at work… Customs officers in Latin America are more focused on discussing their plans for the evening than watching if I took my belt or shoes off, took out the screws from my spine and got rid of any other possible prosthesis.
– There’s something metallic on the screen, Senorita… Do you mind if I look at it?
Really, kindness MAKES A DIFFERENCE.
– Scissors and clippers. Hmm, you can’t, well, woman has to have beautiful hands. Have you also got a nail polish?
– Oh, that’s beautiful – green. I have never seen something like that. Well, if you have the nail polish, the rest must stay. OFF! (250ml bottle). I guess you can’t take it. But I see that you are so severely bitten…
– ‘I am really allergic to Venezuelan flies, so I wanted to protect myself this time. I need to throw it out.
– I am a Christian. I don’t want to have your suffering at my conscience… I want you to recall Venezuela beautifully… Please enjoy your stay without mosquitoes. Are you a blogger? Please, write that Venezuela is a beautiful country, ok? What’s its address? Please, insert it on my phone – I will follow you… If there’s any help needed – let me know. I work 2 more hours.
- No marketing, only personality
Stewardesses – even if they are not phenomenally beautiful (they usually are) – they totally make it up with their personality.
LTA – a plane to Los Roques islands – sincerely smiling (you can glue your smile to your face, but you can’t fake those little wrinkles by eyes or lips) kind of pretty stewardess, in her 50s, welcomes passengers:
– Please, be careful, there is a little step here – give me your hand – I will help you. You have a beautiful son. How old is he? Two? What happened to his chin? Poor thing, he fell… He will be safe here. Are you happy for a flight?
A queue behind them…Everyone is chatting and taking selfies with the plane. No rush or stress.
– Oh, I see that you are beach-ready! This Hawaiian shirt is really sexy!
– Geez, you have such white hair (this one’s to me). I am sure all men in Venezuela are crazy after you. Welcome to my country! Captain – please see – we have Shakira on the board!
– Please, be seated wherever you like. Why do we have to number sits – we are not here to do math – I think everyone can choose their place.
Afterwards, without microphone, because the plane isn’t a big one – it holds only 48 passengers.
– Ladies and gentlemen – it’s so nice that you fly with us. Actually, I know that you had no other choice, because only we fling here, yet it’s still nice that you are with us. Has anyone been to Los Roques before? Well, you already know that this is a paradise. For those who haven’t – OMG, you will like it a lot! Ladies – you look fabulous – you are ready to hit this island. Gentlemen – you are so lucky… So many beautiful women next to you.
- We understand your needs – this is not another billboard slogan
In Izmałkowa Consulting we do researches of the companies on a daily basis – we love them super much, because we know how much difference a HUMAN (also known as an employee) can make. We perform research, strategic workshops – everything to develop a coherent vision of a brand. I honestly doubt that at the Latino airports they have ever heard about organizational culture, brand positioning or tagline. Defiantly not in Venezuela or Colombia. Maybe that’s why they don’t spend anything on the marketing. They don’t communicate brand statement – they hire people who are BRAND STATEMENT. We can only tell that employees make a company and are its ambassadors, we do studies, we write regulations and instructions – how to talk, refuse, manage with difficult clients. And they have employees, who CREATE this positioning.
When a woman from Chappie Airlines held my luggage for four hours in her office (which is illegal in Venezuela – in case of control, not only does she get a fine amounting to her four salaries, but she also loses her job immediately) so I didn’t have to go to Caracas and pay for the ticket (not her airlines) – in return for my effusive ‘thank you’ and a long speech about how much do I owe her, she just said:
– We are here to help. Always at your service. Welcome to Venezuela.
The next day she called me and asked if I had already got into the taxi to the airport. Just before the take-off, she confirmed that I had no problems with luggage (limit is only 10 kilos, including hand luggage, which is for me a challenge that can be compared to a flight to the moon) and asked to call her when I land. She didn’t want anything from me and has never seen me again.
Usually the surname is everything we get to know about our pilot in all airlines. Here, if the pilot doesn’t greet you personally, he almost always says goodbye… He was standing at the open door and bidding farewell to everyone.
– Thank you – I am glad you enjoyed the flight.
– When you fly next time – ask for me to be your pilot, Sweetie. We will…fly away one more time, ok?
Then, the pilots return along with the passengers on the same bus, share some comments on what to see in a city, which days are the best for flight, etc.
And…willingly pose with all passengers.
– I have a bigger arm – let me take this picture.
Before my flight My taxi driver (material for another story) introduced me to the pilot:
– Julia – meet Jose – he is your pilot.
– Good morning!
– I am so glad that I would have such a nice passenger today!
– I learnt that the plane is really small. Smaller than I thought.
– So? Are you afraid a bit?
– I won’t lie – I have already flown with small planes, but this one… is really tiny. I am not scared a lot. But I’m scared a little.
– I will tell you something honestly – I am also scared a little.
– Jesus, don’t tell me such things 20 minutes before the take-off!
– I am scared, because I have a lot respect for flying. Not everything is at my hands. That’s why I always make sure that I cared enough for things I can control. I am always alert, because I am a little scared.
I clearly see his point. However, it doesn’t change the fact that this plane is terribly small.
– Julia, I have a daughter your age, so I know how a parent feels. Do you call your mum often?
– Not very often.
– Let’s make an agreement: I will get you safely to the islands and you will send your mum a message with our photo – deal?
– You need to sit next to me, then. Together we will be scared less. Better together, isn’t it true?
(My mum can witness – I sent her a message with our picture)
- They give more than promised
Do you remember that famous action with airlines which gave all its passengers presents after landing? That was great. I had something like this here. They gave me something which they didn’t have to. Just because they could. And they wanted nothing in return.
– Do you travel a lot? What do you do?
– I write a blog. About the stories that I encounter.
– Hey, do you want a cool story?
He takes out his iPhone and shows me a picture from a cockpit when an airplane was landing.
– WOW! I have always wanted to fly in a cockpit!
– How much would you like?
– Very much!
– I will see what we can do.
I am on a plane, I took my seat. Stewardess approaches me. I think that she might have noticed my earphones and would tell me to take them off.
– Seniorita Julia, we would like to invite you to the cockpit!
So I am at the cockpit – I feel so important and special as if I was flying presidential airplane.
– Ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain Lopez speaking. Today I will fly with my co-pilot, Jose Rodriguez and a beautiful Polish woman who is a Ukrainian – Julia. Together we will get you safely to Caracas.
It was the moment I thought I would die of happiness! Was it not for the fact that after 15 minutes it turned out to be really boring… After 30 minutes I fell asleep. Fortunately, I woke up before landing just to make a movie. But nothing will change the fact that it was a maximal experience for me. And I was totally moved by the fact that a stranger treated me seriously. When I thanked him for arranging a flight at the cockpit, he just said:
– We always do everything to make our clients happy. We don’t have many possibilities, but we always do what we can. I am glad that you had fun.
- They are as serious as they have to, but not more
Rumor has it that Virgin Atlantic recruits the people in a way that they order them to make the Hire Board laugh. I have a feeling that they let Latino to be themselves. Chappie Airlines. Co-pilot is standing in the plane’s doorway (it’s the same plane for eight people in which the captain made a safety deal for a message to my mum):
– I know that you are totally excited by the fact that in a minute you will hop into your bikinis, but let me say just a few words about safety. The plane is checked, so we should make it. The pilots are ok – they don’t do this for the first time! Just the second. You need to relax and enjoy the views, because they are amazing. Our planet is a real gem! In case anything happens – here are the doors. And you don’t have to turn your mobiles off. Unlike the big airlines, we are not jealous if you have a great time on Facebook. So – Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp – enjoy anything that entertains you!
The funniest part is that I had an Internet connection almost for a whole flight.
That’s why I love Latino airports. They focus on important things – relationships. Not on metal in your shoe, 101ml of water or an iPad in your bag. It is because people, who are at the airport, are either full of dreams, because they fly to their dreamed destination or sad, nostalgic and full of impressions, because they return or are tired and stressed, because they fly to work.
Regardless of the reason – there is a LOT of emotions at the airport. And it’s nice when the airport staff comprises of people, not robots. Smiling beings, who like their work not because they have some power, but countless possibilities to meet interesting people.
That’s how the evolution of my terror looked like. My God, this plane is so small… ‘Julia you are my co-pilot, you can’t be scared.’ Me – happy of being the co-pilot, because I have never been a pilot before.
We can do it, partner.
I am definitely more relaxed here.
Just when I have relaxed, bad symptoms appeared. Just like from a PRL movie. The plane looks like a toy from the inside, even the GPS system is not a part of standard equipment. Everything is stretched, pulled and checked manually. So, when it hadn’t started for three times, I thought: ‘God… it must be a bad sign’. Fortunately, the pilot assured me that this happens all the time (it was not comforting, but if you don’t have any hope, assurance will do).
Finally, we took off and there weren’t any strange sounds.
I ADORE flying on such small airports. I LOVE IT! It is a totally different feeling from the one I have when I am flying with Wizzair, where I have an impression that this company would preferably put some people into standing places to sell more tickets.
I don’t know whether those are the Latino or small planes pilots or maybe all pilots, but the sight of a pilot looking through the window and then turning to me and saying:’ God, this is so beautiful. Have you seen this?’… This sight was really moving for me. The same route for fifteen years and for fifteen years he sees is anew. He didn’t need any ethnography training from Izmałkowa Consulting – looking at the world through child’s eyes was in his DNA.
This was the view he looked at.
Yeah, there are some signs. You can’t have any weapon, drugs… not a thing about bottled water. Signs at our airports are pitiful for me. Once in Colombia I was asked at the airport if I had any weapon. I answered that I didn’t, because I wouldn’t pass any other bordersJ. The Colombians laughed and told me: „If you want to, we can teach you how to trick them :)”.
This is the instruction how to behave and…
…encouragement to use social media and share such views…
It was great that we flew so low that I had an Internet connection all the time.
The plane is extremely small, so I took a picture to see if I was the only one to be scared. Not only 🙂
„Now what, Darling? Shall we take a flight?” – I love those pilots.
My enormous, iron bird.
That’s how a see-off to the airport looks like. Yadira and Princessa were with me until I was embarking the plane. I love the fact that they don’t make a fuss about anything. People want to fly, but they also want to be people. It is great that you can be like this on these little airports.
When I was really scared, the pilot said: „You look like you need to have control. Here, grab a rudder, you will feel more confident”.:)
It’s not even about those beautiful views. Maybe they are like this only for me, because I was there and for you they are banal, because everyone flies.
The rarity was that we were really low and I didn’t see tree leaves, but I could distinguish single trees… And the pilots’ commentary: „Oooh, apparently you were here yesterday. We will fly closer so you also can take some photos from heights”.
„Julia, this heart is for you from me. From everyone in Venezuela. So you will come back to us”.
This is how a fulfilled dream looks like – my first time in a cockpit.
And a famous take-off.