Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tips for Coping With Flight Delays

According to the Air Travel Consumer Report from the U.S. Department of Transportation released last week, October's on-time rate for the nation's largest airlines fell to 77.3 percent the previous year’s 86 percent, with severe weather as a major factor in flight delays. With the recent snowstorms, travelers nationwide are now faced with numerous flight delays and cancellations. Fortunately, I am happy to offer the following tips for coping with flight delays during this busy holiday travel season.

How to Avoid Flight Delays Altogether

Avoid peak travel times and grab the earliest flight, if possible. With an earlier flight, you will have more buffer time at the airport, and still have the opportunity to board another flight in case your original flight is delayed. The later in the day your flight is, the higher the chances that it will get delayed.
Book direct flights whenever possible. The more connecting flights there are, the more likely they will be delayed. If you have to make a connection, consider the airport’s size and location, and the time between connecting flights. Make sure you have enough time to make your connecting flight if the previous one is delayed.
Double-check before leaving for the airport. Airlines are known to inaccurately list flights as “on time” even if they are delayed. Try checking flight delay information at the Air Traffic Control System Command Center: http://www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/usmap.jsp. You can also visit Flight Aware for live flight tracking: http://flightaware.com/live/
Fly with only carry-on luggage, whenever possible. This will allow you to move more quickly, and will eliminate the risk of losing luggage between flight connections.
Be prepared for a delayed or cancelled flight. If it’s important that you arrive at your destination by a certain time, say it’s for a wedding or a critical business meeting, try to give yourself an extra day.

How to Handle Flight Delays or Flight Cancellations:

If you have tried everything but your flight was invariably delayed or cancelled, here is my advice.
Be friendly and cooperative with gate agents. Treat those who service you just as you would like to be treated. Put yourself in their shoes, these folks do not set the policies but are just trying to make an honest living and service their customer’s needs and expectations as efficiently as possible. What I always do in these situations is ask, ‘If you were in my position, what would you suggest?’ If you are friendly and cooperative, they will do their best to help you.
Request a hotel voucher and do your research. Airlines may offer hotel vouchers if you are stranded between flight connections. However, do your research! You may get a discounted rate, but airlines typically have agreements with hotels further away from the airport. Find out how far the hotel is, how much it will cost, and whether there is a complimentary shuttle. You don’t want all the “savings” to be eaten by taxi fare!
Call your airline immediately to try to change or buy a new ticket while you stand in line. It’s better to play it safe and have them on the phone, because flights could be booked by the time you make it to the front of the long line.
Know your options. Have phone numbers of other airlines with flights to your destination saved on your cell phone.
Be ready to wait in the airport. Make sure you bring books, magazines, a laptop, a music player, a pillow, or other things to do to pass away the time. Perhaps you want to exercise while you wait? AirportGyms.com has a free listing of gym and fitness facilities for airports all over the US and Canada: http://airportgyms.com.
Consider renting a train or taking a car to your destination, if possible

Travel can be stressful, especially during the holiday season. Following these tips can help you ensure a stress-free and smoother journey. Before you know it, you’ll be relaxing with your family and friends, and everything you’ve gone through becomes worth it. Have a safe and happy holiday!

-Captain Karen Kahn

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Succeeding As a Woman in Male-Dominated Fields

Dealing with Discrimination:

The problems for female executives are not all going to disappear in the near future but, hopefully, they'll become a bit less frustrating if we take appropriate countermeasures.

First, don't lower your standards for anyone.

This is the 21st century, and there are many sources of support for women, including mentors, local and national women's groups, online forums, and your own family and friends. So aim high and realize that it's not an easy road but one well worth everything you put into it.

Second, be sure you are well qualified and maintain your professionalism by striving to improve your skills with ongoing practice and education.

One of the most impressive comments I received several years ago at a Women in Aviation Conference came from the Ninety-Nines President, Joyce Wells. She told me how she remembered me as being a "very serious and dedicated pilot." Funny, I never thought of myself that way, but I'm glad to hear others did. Perhaps the old "looks like, walks like, talks like, must be one" became a self-fulfilling prophesy. So take note and revise your self-image to include a clear vision of yourself in your future professional role, whatever that may be.

Third, continue to demonstrate that you don't expect any favors just because you're a woman.

That doesn't mean that you can't enjoy and appreciate the actions and attentions of a gentleman. Courtesy and consideration are valuable tools in everyone's kitbag. However, you can be both professional and feminine at the same time. Because reputations are hard to shed, make sure you earn one that you'll be proud of and that affords you the respect you deserve.

Finally, learn to take the comments you hear with a grain of salt.

Many of them will be aimed at eliciting a reaction from you. Others will be a lame attempt to talk to you when a fellow just doesn't know how to react to or approach a female executive. I find that if I allow 90% of the comments I hear to go in my left ear and out my right, that tends to place them in the proper perspective.

You don't have to play catch-up or act like one of the boys to succeed. Just be yourself and stay focused. Your efforts will pay off in the end. One day soon you'll find yourself encouraging another up-and-coming female, remembering when you were in that very same position.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Leadership Skills: Are Yours up to Par?

When was the last time you assumed a leadership role? What are the qualities of a good leader? Tell us about a time when your leadership skills failed. Describe your leadership style and give examples to illustrate your techniques. You probably know that leadership is one the most important areas that interviewers scrutinize.

Just what is a leader?

Many people scratch their heads when asked to discuss their leadership abilities, not knowing exactly what the interviewer wants to hear. Well, let's back up a bit and talk about just what leadership entails and how to find some examples in your own background. If you are a leader, you are self-confident and inspire self-confidence in others; you project personal dynamism and know how to speak in a way that moves others to action; you're good at nurturing and coaching others, helping them to be more effective and creative.

Perhaps the most important quality of a leader is the ability to build teamwork. Many interviewers see this as a sign of a sure winner.

Friday, October 23, 2009

12 Tips for Avoiding Unnecessary Holiday Stress

As we head toward the holidays, I am sure thousands, if not millions, of people nationwide are beginning to stress about their holiday travel plans. Air travel can be daunting. No matter how much experience you have had with it, the hassle and worry associated with navigating a bustling airport and enduring a long flight tends to weigh heavy on travelers’ minds.

From the unwanted elbows and comments from tightly packed neighbors to the numerous check-in, security and boarding lines, stress is a constant for most people flying during the holiday season. As a frequent traveler myself, I am here to tell you with a little planning, air travel can be enjoyable, even relaxing.

The key to avoiding travel stress is organization. Do yourself a favor, follow my 12 tips and you will fly with peace of mind and avoid more grief than you can imagine

What to bring with you

Your choice of gear can make the difference between a relaxing getaway in the sky, and a seemingly endless stay in a sardine can.

1) Carry a comfortable neck pillow (I like Talus' HedBed) to use as either a low back or neck support. Label it with your name and cell phone number, just in case you mislay it.

2) Carry soft foam earplugs (or use my favorite Clarity Aloft noise cancelling headset which combines the foam earplugs with a high quality headset) to eliminate noisy seatmates.

3) When flying, wear slip-on shoes (for easy security removal) that have room for your feet to swell in-flight.

4) Carry an empty water bottle, which you can fill inside of security and save the cost of buying expensive airport bottled water.

5) Take snacks (dried fruit, protein bars, jerky) in individual plastic bags. Any excess should be carried in the original unopened packaging if travelling to a foreign country where sealed packages for personal use are usually allowed.

6) Take reading material you can discard along the way to lighten your load. Magazines and must-read paperwork that you do not have to return home are good candidates for travel reading.


What should be as simple as taking off one’s shoes has the ability to cause more stress and wasted time than any other step in the flying process. Don’t be afraid of the security line – plan ahead!

7) Plan your travel togs to exclude any large metal buckles, bracelets, necklaces or pins to keep metal detector gymnastics to a minimum

8) Place your bags on the x-ray conveyor belt in the order you want to reattach (stack) them. That's suitcase first, then briefcase, then computer inside the security bin, then shoes and jacket/purse in the last bin.

Don’t Forget
Before you leave your house, know where all of your important paperwork is. Stay organized and you will minimize your worries.

9) When you make your reservation; keep a list of alternative flights, just in case your flight is late or cancels.

10) When flying internationally or when you have more than one connecting flight, be sure you have on-going boarding passes for the second leg of your journey. Know your connecting gate and recheck the monitors at your intermediate stop to be sure the gate has not changed.

11) Always check for your passport, wallet, tickets, purse, and identification before you move from any long-seated location (boarding area, airplane seat, car, bus, etc.).

Once You’re in the Air

12) After takeoff, remove your carry-on bag from under the seat in front of you and place it behind your legs. Now you can stretch out and relax.

Following these tips will help you ensure a smoother, more carefree journey and leave you free to worry about more important issues.

Have a safe and enjoyable trip!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why Won't They Hire Me?

If after all is said and done, what can you do if you get an awful letter telling you "thanks, but no thanks"?

Don't think of it as the end but rather as a beginning. Consider this a time for some reflection and analysis and then go back to the drawing board to analyze what might have gone wrong. Perhaps we should rephrase the question from "Why won't they hire me?" to "Why SHOULD they hire me?" in order to come up with some good strategies to deal with the inevitable ego crushing that often results from a rejection letter.

Do You have the Right Qualifications?

If you made it to an interview, it's probably safe to assume you met the company's qualifications and that is not your limiting factor. However, you made need to your qualifications in more detail.

Combing your application, resume and portfolio may yield a few details that you overlooked in the interview process that may have swayed the hiring manager's decision. The big qualifier, of course, is the interview itself. But trying to analyze your own performance can be tough, particularly if you're not experienced and you think everything went fine. To analyze your performance objectively, ask yourself these questions:

1) What kind of rapport did I establish with the interviewer(s)and how quickly did this occur?
2) Were my answers succinct and to the point, relating my person, professional and educational background to their specific query?
3) Did I look and act like I really wanted the job, as well as showing that I am knowledgeable about the workings of the company?

Remember that your interview responses are actually a sales pitch for you and your abilities. If you don't give interviewers the information they need to make a decision (read: Why should they hire you?), you may find yourself interviewing over and over with nothing more than a pile of rejection letters to show for your trouble. Use your pre-interview study time to prepare a unique discussion of why you want to work for that particular organization, what special qualities you possess, and how you can enhance their operation. Sell them on your skills and why, in a word, they should hire you!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Importance of Attitude

Your attitude and actions are the keys to your success! Your continued employment depends on a variety of factors: preparation, perseverance, promptness, and the big one, maintaining a positive attitude. Remember how hard you worked to get your job. Now, dedicate yourself to keeping it by learning to do it their way, asking for help when you need it, concentrating on your training with no outside distractions, and demonstrating that you are that exemplary employee they hired.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Perceptions: Often of Our Own Making

Perceptions, both your own and those of others, will have an impact on your career. Assert yourself and act like the professional you aspire to become. If you find yourself in a situation where your talents aren't appreciated, it may be time to move on to another one where they will be. Or, to put a slightly different twist on one of my old sayings: "If you don't take a serious interest in your own future, who will?"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How is Your Sales Pitch?

Perfecting your sales pitch will help you progress through the ranks, opening doors that can lead to new opportunities. So how do you begin this process? I suggest you start by imagining yourself sitting in front of a prospective employer who is saying, "Tell us about yourself." This request is akin to their asking, "Why should I buy your product. What can you do better than your competition? Convince me that you're right for this job."

Start by making a list of your best qualities as well as those that make you unique. Your skills, talents, and extra curricular activities are pluses that you'll want to describe during your soliloquy. How will you assist their organization? What have you done in the past that qualifies you for the job? What new ideas do you bring to the company? What special achievements or awards in your past should they know about? Remember, it's up to you to share this information with them. Don't make them dig for it.

Plan your delivery carefully, add to it as you acquire additional skills and experience, and remember that your success depends on being your own best salesperson.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Informational Interview

The key to networking is to express your interest and desire in a person or firm without being obnoxious or patronizing. One approach is to seek an informational interview, in which your goal is to speak with an individual who can help you without actually asking him or her to do anything specific for you.

In essence, you are picking the brain of your subject and, at the same time, impressing him or her with your serious interest and determination. Hopefully, your actions will convince him to take a chance and hire you, should an opening become available. What you don't say, is "hire me." Instead, you solicit ideas and opinions and then put that information to work, demonstrating by your actions that you're worthy of the help you're not asking for.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Current Resume: Your Best Sales Tool

Resumes--I think we've all had a love-hate relationship with them. On the one hand, they are tough to assemble and keep current. On the other, a resume is your sales pitch for a very important product: you. It's important that it be concise, accurate, and intriguing. You want to pique the reader's interest so he or she will look closer and call you to come in for an interview.

More resume tips can be found in my book, Flight Guide For Success!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Interview Attitudes

Ideally, an upcoming interview should be your last, concluding with the job offer of your dreams (or if this isn't your dream job, at least the one you want for the foreseeable future). So you're going to act like it's the one place you want to be. Why? Because attitude is probably the biggest plus or obstacle to getting hired anywhere.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Balancing Family and Career

Many people question whether family and career can coexist in a world that seems to have no apparent regard for scheduling or lifestyle. However, the truth of the matter is, family and career are not mutually exclusive. The trick lies in having the passion, determination, perseverance, and willingness to make the system work for you while not expecting undue favors from your employer.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Experience Versus Book Learning

Do not underestimate the power of trial and error. Experience can be an invaluable resource in the working world. "Speed Study" and rote memorization narrow your frame of reference and may not provide the same opportunities for learning. If I had to assess the value of my book learning versus the "been there, done that" system, I'd certainly pick the latter as offering much more substance and inspiring greater confidence. Don't be afraid to get your feet wet. These may be your greatest chances for success.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Be Aware of Opportunities

Often a great job can result from being in the right place at the right time, so keep your eyes and mind open to these opportunities. You can also help yourself a great deal by creating opportunities for yourself through networking. People will be impressed by your opportunistic and ambitious attitude, which will build your credibility and can lead to job offers from friends and acquaintances.
Look at every situation as an opportunity for you to gain something. Evaluate how you can help the people involved, and how they can help you. If anything, build trust in these relationships to secure loyalty, and they will at the least have positive things to say on your behalf.

More career guidance can be found in my book, Flight Guide For Success, which can be purchased online at amazon.com.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Investigate and Inquire

Make sure to ask yourself a series of questions in order to narrow down your career path. Do some research, so you can factor into your plan the licenses, certificates, and the minimum qualifications you might need to reach your goals. Don't be afraid to approach people already in your desired position and pick their brain; many people are eager to recall the frustrating obstacles they encountered in their climb to the top. Take note of their advice, but keep an open mind--everyone's experience is different, and no path is the same!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Know Yourself

Take time to carefully consider your career path; make sure it aligns with your life and personality. Be sure to pay special attention to your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as what you are passionate about. These can help you steer your career according to what you know you will be good at and feel good about doing.