Man Forcibly Removed From Aircraft 10 Top Tips For Stress Free Travel

10 Top Tips For Stress Free Travel

It’s been trains planes and automobiles for the last two weeks, as I've had the good fortune to be speaking all over the UK and Europe. Today shocking footage and news coverage of the passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines aircraft has gone viral and shows just how stressful travel can be. So how can we travel stress free?

Firstly, let’s look at the harsh legal reality of this shocking and distressing incident.

Man forcibly removed from United Airlines flight

The Captain is legally in charge of the aircraft and it’s legal for airlines to bump passengers from an oversold flight. The airline is responsible for deciding ‘fair boarding priorities’. In this case IF it’s true he’s a Doctor needing to treat patients and the social media statements saying he was chosen because he looked Chinese are true then that’s clearly unfair, atrocious and indefensible. United Airlines are denying he was chosen because of his ethnicity.

Was the force used necessary and proportionate? On a point of arrest and restraint when someone’s deeply distressed and emotional why is an officer who appears armed grappling with someone who has been security screened and we know is unarmed? Human beings have three likely responses to being physically attacked: fight, flight or fright and if we do a risk assessment- there’s a possibility one reaction’s fight,  the red mist might descend and someone’s survival instincts kick in, they could try to get the weapon and end up shooting or being shot. However, some might argue there were two other armed men to shoot him on a full aircraft if necessary so that’s okay. The way he was grabbed could have easily led to escalation. His resistance appears passive and in the social media clip he doesn’t look threatening.

They were legally entitled to see him as troublesome when he refused to leave the aircraft, although he could argue the boarding priority was unfair. It appears arrest and restraint procedures were not followed and the actions of one officer "placed on leave", by the Chicago Department of Aviation were "obviously not condoned by the Department".


So back to the question. How can we travel stress free? Here are Ten Top Tips from the last thirty years compiled in my last two weeks of continuous travel:


Plan To Get There In Good Time

  1. Plan Ahead Leave Nothing To Chance - (Unless you’ve no agenda and are going for a chill thrill). I plan my travel times and book transfers in advance. Be organized and have your bits and kit together. When I arrive somewhere the first thing I do is arrange my exit strategy and book onward travel then I run (It beats jet lag).


  1. Leave Extra Time To Cover Delays - When I’m speaking where possible I leave a contingency for delays so get there the day before or have the possibility of at least one other flight to get me there. If driving I allow an extra hour or two so heavy traffic and roadworks don’t cause stress. (If driving’s stressful get the train where you can).


  1. Love Travel - As a speaker, I make a conscious decision to love it, because it would be extremely unwise not to. Even if I'm tired I look forward to getting on a plane or a train so I can have a nap. I continually focus on the things I love about travel and make the effort to enjoy the journey. Choose a positive attitude and avoid focusing on any inconvenience, enjoy the journey😀😀😀

I am Chris Moon – Loudon Hill

Find Things to Love About Travel. Enjoy The View

  1. Engage With People and Treat Them With Respect - I’ve met some amazing people with great stories. Find things to like in people. What goes around comes around. Don’t judge a book by its cover and if people don’t want to engage in conversation respect their privacy.


  1. Understand The Rules and Stick To Them - Turn up at the gate on time with a bag that’s the right size and understand what you can and can’t take through security. The most stressed people I’ve seen on my travels are trying to defend the indefensible.


  1. Ask For Help When Needed and Be Prepared to Help - Add some value and meaning to your travels by being a Good Samaritan. 😀 😀😀


  1. Travel As Light As Possible - The more stuff the more stress. Get crush proof clothes- non-iron shirts are so good now. Get underwear and socks that can be washed out and left to dry overnight if necessary (lucky me I’ve only got one sock to dry)


  1. Take Books, Work, Downloaded Films, Scrabble, Neck Rest Or Whatever Else to Make The Journey Enjoyable - (but not knitting, aviation Security don't like the needles) A saying from my military days springs to mind- Any fool can be uncomfortable in the field


  1. Get a Good Small Bag With Wheels - This way you can be irritating rather than irritated when going through a station or airport.


  1. Captain of a Plane is the Law - I’ve only seen one instance of aircrew being unpleasant in thirty years and that was somewhere remote and the others apologized. Most people are great. -Enjoy your travels 😀

Former POW @JohnNicholRAF asked me for thoughts on resilience in hostile situations…

Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties, tough situations and change. It’s about bouncing back and getting up one more time than we fall over. A material like nylon’s a good example, it’s not easily crushed or creased and stuff washes off it easily and it doesn’t stain. (However, I’m not suggesting we should wear more nylon. I prefer PVC). This brings me nicely to a key to resilience- good humour, the ability to laugh at ourselves and in the face of adversity. When we take offence it erodes our resilience and the world becomes a hostile place. (Couldn't find a picture of someone taking offence, so I put this one of two guys taking a fence above).

Life can be tough and unfair. I’m a realist, so the starting point is to understand and accept reality.

It is what it is. Let’s understand the objective truth and work out how we’re going to get through it.

In times of crisis one human reaction is denial, there’s a temptation to put our head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening. Helpful questions for this point: What is it I don’t want to hear about this situation? What’s the worst-case scenario? My experience is ninety-nine times out of a hundred it’s not as bad as it could be, so count your blessings.

Psychological research shows we have the ability to choose the way we think. A key part of resilience is avoiding unhelpful thinking.  Don’t blame, keep the thoughts constructive and positive. Our thinking should be grascious and generous to ourselves and others. In short, look beyond the pain and reach for realistic optimism.

Examples of stinking thinking are thoughts that are down on self, others, our future and the world in general. They’re rigid ‘it must be ‘my way’; thoughts, full of assumption; not reality tested and goal blocking- all the reasons not too.

Healthy mental habits as are accepting of ourselves, others, the world and our future. A generosity of spirit. Flexible or agile thinking which is reality tested and not assumptive. Thinking which is ‘can do’ and ‘let’s find a way to make it work’

Never underestimate the power of belief. To be resilient we must choose to believe in ourselves. Sometimes people need help to grow self-belief. Kind words of encouragement are more important than we often realise.

Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness; we should be prepared to ask for other views and be prepared to be helped and help others. It’s a two-way street.

When I was in a remote part of Mozambique East Africa I met a missionary working in the vast Northern provinces. I was clearing UXO’s with Frank my Operations Officer ahead of UNHCR sending refugees back to their villages. One evening there was thunderstorm with the heaviest rain imaginable. The water began to rise.

We talked about floods. He smiled and told me a story (I suspect apocryphal) of a Godly man who saw the water rise around his home. He prayed to God for help and as the flood rose higher he climbed onto the roof of his house where he saw trees and cars float by. He prayed to God to send angels to save him because he was a righteous believer.

The rain fell and the floods rose, then a boy paddled past him in a canoe. He stopped and said ‘Can I offer you a ride in my boat Sir?

The righteous man replied ‘No, I’ve prayed to God to save me and I believe he’ll send angels down shortly’

The boy nods and paddles away.

Righteous man continues to pray in the rain and soon a fire service boat with flashing blue lights slows its engine and they urge him to jump aboard. ‘No thanks, I’ve prayed to God to save me and I believe he’ll send angels down shortly’

They know him to be righteous and reluctantly sail on.

The wind and rain rise. His prayers and pleas grow more intense. Finally, through the driving rain a helicopter hovers lower. The winchman descends clutching a sling and tries to save him. Pushing it away he says ‘No thank you! I’ve prayed to God to save me and I believe he’ll send angels shortly’

The winchman’s ear peace crackles ‘We have to respect his decision and there’s another twenty waiting. Let’s go.’

Swirling flood waters rise, the torrential rain continues, the house creaks and groans and finally collapses sinking into the black swirling void. The man quickly drowns.

He dies, goes to heaven, meets his maker and says ‘God I prayed to you to send angels. Why didn’t you answer me I'm a righteous person’

God laughs and says ‘What do you mean? I sent a canoe, a rescue boat and helicopter.

So maybe there are angels among us and perhaps we should strive to be someone else’s angel.

Be nylon!; I wish you a crush and wrinkle proof future.

Thanks for reading my stuff; hope you've enjoyed it, if you have please share it via twitter







Mindfulness - How It Can Benefit You

I’m surprised how many top performing people I know who practice Mindfulness. It’s about focusing our awareness on the current moment whilst calmly acknowledging and accepting immediate feelings thoughts and body sensations. Having spent time discussing mindfulness with Bhante Rewatha, who is Chief Monk of Great Britain (based in Maryhill, Glasgow which is more synonymous with TV detective dramas than Buddist temples!)  simply it’s about being 100% in the present and not concerned about past issues or worrying about our future. I also know some highly effective people who have developed this state and might not call it mindfulness.

So what are the benefits of mindfulness?

 Never tried it before? Here are a few simple steps on how to do Mindfulness:

* Close your eyes and simply bring awareness to the present. Take a few deep breaths through your nose and let everything go. No judgements - it is what it is.

* Choose a routine activity like taking a shower, travelling to work, walking, etc. and focus completely on what you are doing moment by moment.

* Make a note of a pleasant event in your day. Were you aware of pleasant feelings at the time? How did it make you feel physically? What thoughts, feelings, moods did you have at the time?

* Breathing is life. It changes with our mood an it can act as an anchor to bring us to the present.  Try this 3 minute breathing space  and feel the benefit for yourself.



How Do You 'Survive The Yomp'?

How Do You 'Survive The Yomp'?

Between 1942 and 1945 more than 20,000 Commandos were trained at Achnacarry, then a top secret location nestled in the Scottish Highlands. Such was their success Hitler issued an order stating Commandos were too dangerous to be held prisoner and should be executed immediately - Hitler's Commando Order

My father volunteered and was only eighteen when he went there. As a child I heard tales from him and his comrades of Artic conditions in the Scottish Highlands. In February they did route marches in deep snow and their wet hob nailed boots would freeze to the tin hut floor overnight so they’d have to put newspaper in them and set fire to it to get them off the floor. On entering the camp there was a line of graves with neat crosses just past the Regimental Police Post. Their purpose was to engender the right attitude. People died during training and there were many injuries. My Dad decided you should never be higher then fifth after seeing the four blokes in front of him jump off the twelve-foot wall into frozen mud and break their legs. The instructors then ordered him not to jump. They learnt unarmed combat, pistol shooting, rock climbing, basic demolitions, running straight down the castle wall on a rope, survival skills and first aid. He said it was much more fun than the Scouts. For their story and pictures of this fascinating history look at Commando Training

After learning how to survive Arctic conditions it came as no surprise when the Army in its wisdom sent them to the Far East for jungle warfare. They told tales of liberating POW camps and a ten-day fire fight. When I joined the Army his old Sgt Major advised me, with a smile on his face, not to volunteer for anything because the last time he did he and his troop were used as live ballast in a glider to see how many men they could carry without crashing! After the Second World War the Commando role went to the Royal Marines

When my friend Mark suggested doing the Commando challenge - Survive The Yomp  – 30 miles carrying 40 pounds at Achnacarry I jumped at the chance to visit the place I’d heard so much about as a child, including going around the Commando Memorial .  You don’t have to carry 40 lbs and you can take as long as you like to go around. Commandos are supposed to finish in under eight hours and officers under seven. Although I left the army a long time ago I still have some professional pride and I’m aiming for 6 hours 45 minutes.

I’m so lucky because I’ve got a new artificial leg to test. My first mistake was being over enthusiastic and packing all my survival kit so I’m well over forty pounds. A Royal Marine at the start laughs and advises me to off load knowing full well I don’t want to miss the opportunity of a character building experience. My friend Huw flies to Scotland and fills his ruck sack with two huge sacks of dog food to make his weight up which he’s giving to my dog at the end. Good, should last weeks.

We’re given a nice little map with the route on and we’re off round the loch. The sapphire blue water is surrounded by pine forest and rolling heather hills. A cloud smothers the sun making the loch grey green and the triangular pine mountains become sinister dark green and the heather hills change from violet to deep purple. Large drops of rain fall diluting the sweat on my face and it’s a lovely jog.

The rhythmic sound of our boots thuds on the ground.

My green Berghaus 120 litre rucksack with side panels is the biggest you can get which means I usually pack too much stuff. It’s an old friend who’s travelled the world with me for 25 years including some time in the Army (I bought it and didn’t steal it honestly), demining, more Kilimanjaro trips than I can remember and lots of quiet walks in the hills with your house on your back. I haven’t been out in torrential rain recently so it stinks of sweat.

I’m jogging round with Pierre who has more weight than me and he asks again ‘How do you motivate yourself?’

‘It’s mind over matter. You don’t mind and it doesn’t matter. How do you?’

He says ‘I don’t need to because I’m too busy waiting for you.’

After a very pleasant jog round we finish bang on target at six hours forty three minutes. We’re joint third and as we cross the line. In a recess of my mind I hear the voice of my dead Father saying ‘You prat, I said don’t come higher than fifth.’

My friends Huw and Mark come in next, we all loved the countryside and meeting the Marines who were excellent. It’s a great fun event so if you like the Scottish countryside and want to support the Royal Marines Charitable Trust take a look at Survive The Yomp

Next time my friends and I have decided not to take the Commando thing so seriously and are going to wear underpants…

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