Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Keith Maginn
Occupation: Flight attendant and author of four books
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Residence: After four years of college in Oxford, Ohio, and ten years living in Knoxville, Tennessee, I am once again living in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
College: Miami University in Oxford, Ohio
College major: Sociology
Short bio: I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, the youngest of four kids. After earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee, to work for AmeriCorps (a service organization like the Peace Corps, but within the United States) and for Knoxville Habitat for Humanity. I recently moved back to Cincinnati after living nearly ten years in Tennessee. I love playing and watching many sports and also enjoy live music, writing, meditation, yoga, and reading. I became a flight attendant early in 2017 and love this new world that has opened up to me.
I feel writing is my life’s purpose. In February 2011, I released an inspiring self-help memoir, “Turning This Thing Around.” My second book, “Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward,” is about a philanthropic road trip. I teamed with publisher KiCam Projects on my third book, “(Extra)Ordinary: Inspirational Stories of Everyday People,” in August 2016. Our second project together, “(Extra)Ordinary: More Inspirational Stories of Everyday People,” will be released in mid-October 2017.
How often do you fly? As a flight attendant, I fly quite a bit. Typically, four to five days a week, often up to four flights a day. Before my training, I’d only flown five times in my life; I flew eight times in my first two days of in-air training.
How many countries have you been to? At this early point in my airline career, I am still flying domestic exclusively. However, I hope to use my free flight benefits to fly all over the world. Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, England and France are at the top of my “to-fly list” currently.
Earliest travel memory: My parents have never been much into flying, so all six of us would hop into our station wagon to drive to our summer vacations, typically to visit family in Charleston, South Carolina. My mom would be asleep in less than five minutes, so my dad drove the entire way from Cincinnati. After consuming a disgusting amount of candy, we kids would crash out in a sugar coma. We still kid my dad about the fact that he would read his Time magazine while behind the steering wheel, with his entire sleeping family’s lives at stake.
The summer before my oldest sibling left for college, my parents won a church raffle and decided to take us on one last family vacation, a road trip to Niagara Falls, Detroit and Toronto.
Favorite American city: San Diego. The scenery and the beaches are amazing. We ate at Duke’s, which had wonderful food and a great view of the ocean. The houses on the overlooking hills are unique and lovely.
I have a lot of family ties to Charleston, South Carolina, and love the city and all of its history. New Orleans is very cool, a unique place that seems like a country of its own. I also enjoy the Denver area and highly recommend seeing a live concert at Red Rocks—Amazing!
Favorite international city: I loved Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, where I stayed at The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club—a breathtaking experience. Blue water and white sand just a few steps away, great service and food. The pool is amazing, and the rooms are modern and clean. Nearby Playa Blanca also had great food, cold drinks (rum punch!) and a terrific view of the ocean.
I love the Caribbean overall—especially St. Thomas, St. Martin, and Puerto Rico. Fabulous weather and beaches! I want to go back to the Caribbean as soon as possible. Hopefully next time will involve zip-lining and swimming with dolphins.
I have no desire to go to: Anywhere cold!
Friendliest people in the world: The people in the Dominican Republic bend over backward to make your stay as pleasant as possible.
And although I have not been there yet, I am told New Zealand has some of the friendliest people anywhere. I hope to find out for myself soon!
Aisle or window: Definitely window. Though I fly all the time in my career, I still love seeing the world from 30,000 feet above, especially major cities lit up at night, as well as coastlines and sunrises or sunsets.
Favorite island: I have many wonderful family memories from Kiawah Island, off Charleston, South Carolina. It is typically not overcrowded, so travelers can enjoy peace and quiet in a serene setting. And Tybee Island, near Savannah, Georgia, is spectacular.
Favorite beach: Fort Walton and Sarasota are both quite scenic. There’s nothing like relaxing on the white sand and wading in the turquoise water. (Turns out there isn’t as much creepy sea life swimming around me as I’d thought from beaches with darker water!)
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q in Birmingham…Taco Tuesdays! I also highly recommend the food, reggae music and Red Stripe beer at North Beach Bar and Grill, near the lighthouse on Tybee Island, a favorite among locals.
Favorite bar: Helen Back Cafe in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, is a crew favorite.
Favorite food: Jerk chicken is wonderful, especially in the Caribbean. When I first visited there, the flavor was unbelievable to a Midwesterner like me.
Least favorite food: Since I love the beach so much, I wish I liked seafood, but I’m not a fan at all. On a recent trip, some of my crewmembers ate raw oysters and they looked like the least tasty food I’d ever seen.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Several airline passengers turned me on to “Jack & Ginger” (Jack Daniels and ginger ale). Corona and Tecate are great beach beers. Rum punch in the Dominican Republic is immaculate.
Favorite travel movie(s): The Motorcycle Diaries and Into the Wild both made me want to travel extensively. Also, rockumentaries Big Easy Express and Austin to Boston, which follow musicians around the U.S. on a train trip and van caravan, respectively.
Favorite travel book(s): Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is one of my all-time favorite books. I also really enjoyed “The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey” by Douglas Brinkley; “Travels with Charley: In Search of America” by John Steinbeck; “Turn Left at the Trojan Horse: A Would-Be Hero’s American Odyssey, States of Mind and Small World” by Brad Herzog; and William Least Heat-Moon’s “Blue Highways: A Journey into America”…all road-trip books. I was kicking myself in the Caribbean for not bringing along “The Rum Diary” by Hunter S. Thompson.
Right now I am reading: “The Old Man and the Sea” is a timeless classic and a nice beach read. Ernest Hemingway said there wasn’t one needless word in his short novel, and I have to agree.
5 things you bring on a plane: My cell phone (with YouTube and Netflix), headphones, a good book or Men’s Health magazine, a notebook to write in and lots of water.
What do you always seem to forget? That I will be changing time zones. For some reason, even a one-hour time difference still throws me off quite easily. Plus, we flight attendants travel so much that we often don’t know where we are or where we just came from.
What do you like least about travel? Passengers blaming flight attendants for things out of our control, such as weather delays or maintenance issues. We work long hours and sometimes don’t have time to eat decent meals. Flight attendants are often tired and hungry—we want to get to our destinations as soon as possible, too!
Most embarrassing travel moment: I recently took the van from the employee parking lot and walked all the way through security to our crew room, where I noticed my fly had been down the entire time. Whoops.
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Anywhere in Europe. I wish I’d had the means and courage to travel abroad while in college, but hopefully I will get across the pond before too long.
Worst travel moment: A plane I was working on loaded full of antsy passengers got stopped just short of the runway for a faulty windshield wiper. I was in the rear jumpseat next to a young mother, her four kids and her sister. Four of them needed sick sacks, and two used them. I had been working as a flight attendant for only a week or two and wondered what I was getting myself into.
Another time, as I was moving the drink cart up the aisle, a male passenger put his hand on my calf. I was so surprised that I didn’t say anything. When I started to move forward, he did it again. I was shocked but continued on. When I got to the front of the plane, I decided I’d better say something so he didn’t think his groping was okay. As I collected garbage in the main cabin, I discreetly looked at him and said politely but directly, “No, thank you.” He immediately looked down at the floor and didn’t look at me the rest of the flight. A female flight attendant told me that was nothing—she’s had men touch her butt numerous times. One even apologized when she gave him a “not OK” look, and then did it again. WTH?!
What’s your dream destination? I’d really like to go to Key West or to some other exotic island, but I’m worried I’d never return home to my family and friends. As much as I like flying, my dream trip for as long as I can recall has been to take a road trip around the western United States for two or three months. No plans, just driving around in a small RV all over my beautiful country. I’d like to write a book about that experience.
Best travel tip: Leave yourself enough time in between flights in case of delays and choose early flights if possible to cut down your risk of delays. Bad weather, for example, can have a domino effect throughout the entire day, so leaving early lessens your chances of getting off schedule.
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