Frequent Flyers

Oregon executives relay their best airline travel stories.


Amy Weeden, managing partner, co-founder, Propeller Consulting
Propeller is a local consulting firm, meaning their employees don’t have to travel for work. But with the nearly five-year-old firm opening a new office in San Francisco, managing partner and co-founder Amy Weeden finds herself traveling two weeks out of each month.

What’s in your carry-on? AmyWeeden
I just take my laptop bag when I fly to San Francisco. It holds my MacBook Air, an iPad to watch movies and send quick emails, and Powerbeats headphones with the wire — the wireless ones feel awkward. I also carry a S’well water bottle and Ray-Ban sunglasses, because if it’s cloudy in Portland it’s sunny in San Francisco and vice versa. There’s also a bag of almonds, personal notes and drawings from my kids and a Propeller-logoed Leuchtturm 1917 journal, because I’m an impulsive list maker.

But no carry-on?
No, my business partner, Jeff Foley, and I split an apartment in San Francisco. I have my clothes, toiletries, makeup and running gear there. It’s comparable to renting a hotel room, and it makes sleeping away from home easier. Also, when I’m down there, I’m selling Propeller’s services so it helps to have a permanent address. It makes us feel like a fixture of the city.

What’s your worst flight story?
I don’t like to fly, and I really dislike turbulence. Intellectually, I know that it doesn’t indicate a problem, but I react physically anyway. It started when I was 27. I was living in Indonesia and took a flight from Bali to Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. We were on a small plane and the turbulence was unreal. I was so afraid of crashing on a jungle island.

Because it might be an Alive situation where you would have to resort to cannibalism to survive?
Yes! Jeff is a pilot, and he always offers to take me up in his small plane. No way! The bigger the plane, the better.

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Travis Merrill, chief marketing officer, FLIR Systems
Since joining the publicly traded thermal imaging technology company three years ago, Merrill estimates that he travels about 200,000 miles a year.

What’s in your carry-on? travis merrill
My carry-on bag is actually more interesting than what’s in it. It is a small suitcase that my grandparents gave me in 1994 for high school graduation. I’ve restored it a couple of times, and my wife is always trying to get rid of it, but it’s a great conversation piece with TSA agents.

Cool! But what’s in it?
Necessities. I only take what I need. It’s amazing how just a few additional papers or small items really add weight. I make it my philosophy to never check a bag, and in 10 years I haven’t, even for weeklong trips.

Do you have any tips for avoiding jet lag?
Fight the urge to nap, and drink a lot of coffee. I take the red eye to Europe every quarter. I arrive at 7 a.m., go straight to the meeting and then out to dinner. Some people choose to go out a day early, but I think this schedule helps me adjust faster.

What’s your worst flight story?
Well, let me start by saying I’m 6'3," so fitting into a seat isn’t always easy or pleasant. Early in my career I was coming home from Asia, and I was sound asleep in an economy seat. My leg drifted into the aisle, and the flight attendant jammed the beverage cart into my knee. I bolted awake, shocked, surprised and hurt. The attendant just said, “Watch your knee.”

Ouch! Did that color your attitude toward air travel?
I’ve learned not to sweat the stuff outside of my control. Delays and cancellations used to make me really angry and frustrated, but it’s better to roll with the punches. Things happen, but they’ll eventually get worked out.

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Kelly Jo Horton, chief technical officer, Intersekt Solutions
As the CTO of a year-old, digital marketing startup, Horton spends about 15% of her work life traveling. But as an Emmy-winning member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and a person who spends her discretionary income on experiences, Horton spends nearly a third of the year away from home.

What’s in your carry-on? KellyJoHorton
I have a Swiss Gear backpack that holds my laptop and accessories, including a privacy screen so I can work in public places. I also have a laptop stand, because my web cam is on the bottom of the screen, so people would be looking up my nose if I did video calls without it. I also carry an eye mask, lotion, business cards, a fine-tip black Sharpie and snacks. Oh, and don’t forget the drugs! I always have Advil and melatonin.

Do you check bags?
I try not to. I once went to Asia for two weeks without checking a bag and that was stretching it. The last time I went to New York I checked a bag and it was fine. I go to the Emmys every year, and I never check a bag for that. I’m too afraid it will get lost, and I don’t want to re-buy everything in L.A. So shoes, makeup and a non-wrinkle dress go into the carry-on.

How do you avoid jet lag?
Arriving at your destination during daylight hours is key. I try to get to Europe as early as possible and stay out until at least 9 p.m. Then I can get a decent night’s sleep. I have never taken a red eye and never will. I don’t care if the flight’s cheaper. You’re guaranteed three hours of awful sleep.

Tell us about your best flight experience.
On a recent flight to Tokyo, I paid extra for a seat with extra legroom far from the galley and restrooms, so I could sleep. I boarded late and found someone already in my spot. The flight attendant explained that this person was moved from an exit row because she was traveling with a minor. My new seat was an exit row right next to the galley and restrooms. The attendant found me a better seat and credited my account with extra miles for my trouble. That’s great customer service!

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