Daughter of Pilots, and Master of the Overhead Bin

Jennifer Kushell, founder of and chief of Young & Successful Media, making a new friend at a marketplace in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2012.

BOTH of my parents were private pilots, and my mother worked as a flight attendant, too. I grew up with plane travel, so business travel isn’t something that makes me crazy at all.

I work on global youth employment issues through my agency, Young & Successful Media, and my website, I also write books, do speaking engagements and even do what I call “boot camps” for entrepreneurs. Since my passion is youth employment, I don’t limit myself to simply domestic campaigns. I do a lot of global work, and I think my years flying with my parents help me navigate any hassles I encounter today.

Plus, I’m a pretty good flier, and since my mom was an attendant I try to be as helpful as possible. I’ll always try to sit in the emergency row, just in case. I don’t think I would ever freak out if there was a problem. I even help people with their carry-ons. I’m kind of a master at getting the most unwieldy of bags into the overhead bins.

I’ve talked a lot about my mom, and I think that’s because she travels with me, virtually. She really misses flying as an attendant and she enjoys hearing about my travels. Any time I travel a lot, especially overseas, she stays glued to a flight tracker app and lets me know about any potential delays or problems. When you’re busy with work, you just don’t get enough time, ever, to spend with people you love, especially your parents. So I actually enjoy the fact that she’s so involved, and she’s helped me out a lot.

I do try to explore different parts of the world if I can by tacking on an extra day or so to my itinerary. I was doing an engagement in Rome and got the opportunity to go to Monaco, and my mom went into research mode sending me information on lots of interesting things and places I should check out. It was really great bonding time, especially since I never knew my uncle was a huge Grace Kelly fan.

I do get tired when I travel a lot, and my brain goes into overload. I’ve had some near misses when it comes to making flights, and I even left a laptop on a plane. I never saw the laptop again.

Having issues with security is something no traveler wants, especially when that traveler is at fault or, in my case, spectacularly at fault. I was headed to New York from Los Angeles and I was wearing one of my favorite winter jackets. I didn’t think twice about it, and didn’t check the pockets.

I got to security and one of the agents asked me what I had in my jacket pocket. I said my smartphone. The agent then looked at me and said, “Not a knife?” I said no, and then I looked at the screen and nearly passed out. There was a knife in my jacket pocket and it was, indeed, mine. I was mortified. A former boyfriend who trained at the police academy got me a seven-inch carbon steel utility knife.

I apologized like crazy, and the agent was actually pretty nice about my honest mistake. But the knife had some sentimental value, so I called a driver and had it delivered to my mailbox.

By the way, the couple standing behind me in the security line was absolutely horrified. When I told my mom the story, she just said, “That’s my daughter.”

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