Free Flying
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Free Flying

My preferred travel method has always been through the air.

Free Flying
Mackenzie French

I have never been a nervous flyer. I have never squirmed during take off or clutched my seat during landing. By age six, I had already memorized United’s safety videos, and traveling alone internationally at age thirteen was as simple as walking to school. I’m the daughter of an airline pilot; I come from the unorthodox community of travelers who fly (basically) for free. Flying as a "non revenue" passenger, without knowing if we have a seat until minutes before the flight departs, has shown me the value of flexibility and the beauty of spontaneity.

Most families make travel plans months in advance. The hotel is chosen, layovers are planned, and traveling is an organized indulgence. For my family, vacations are determined based on the number of empty seats on an airplane; when tourist season is low, our prospects of getting a seat are high. I’ve seen it all when it comes to traveling. This includes sleeping in airports, witnessing an agro customer fight with an agent, and sprinting to the gate minutes before it is scheduled to close. Every time I see another stand-by passenger, we look at each other with a sympathetic eye. I am so accustomed to this airport experience that it now feels strange to travel with a pre-purchased ticket.

Although arriving at the airport with no secure seat is stressful and frustrating, it has shaped my family into the people we are today. We rarely have our trips planned out -- let alone do we know where we will fly to until we are sitting at the gate, holding our confirmed seat assignment. As a result, my sisters and I have learned to be easygoing. My parents have shown us how to be happy to be together even when we are stuck in the airport for twenty-four hours. When I was younger, I never knew how lucky I was to have a pilot for a father. As I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate the unconventionality of the Everhard lifestyle and, as my mom would say, "joie de vivre".

Being the daughter of a pilot has made me appreciate the journey, no matter how frustrating our travel methods are. From spending full days sprinting from gate to gate, or changing my travel plans from flying to Chicago, to DC, to Oklahoma City, I have learned to value the process as a whole. This mindset has followed me into college, and encouraged me to be more flexible in my plans and spontaneous in my choices.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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