SR Founder & CEO Donna in the NYTimes!

 

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The Simple Pleasures of Flying Coach
By DONNA KHALIFE

I grew up in a family that traveled all over the world. So when I started my career working on Wall Street in mergers and acquisitions, I had to travel quite a bit and sometimes it was to some pretty obscure places. Fortunately, I was used to it.

Now my sister and I have started our own company, Surprise Ride. We’re a subscription service that develops theme-based monthly activity boxes for children to foster their creativity. We grew up with a dad who was an artist, and we think that every child should have the same opportunities we did to learn how to create something fun.

But being an entrepreneur and flying for business is a lot different from my Wall Street days. When I worked in mergers and acquisitions I never booked a flight or a hotel room. Somebody else did that for me and I never thought about cost. Now we do everything on our own and we try to maximize every dollar.

I used to fly nonstop — not anymore — and I’ve become very well acquainted with meandering routes that might take longer but do save a lot of money. I’ve also learned to really like coach class. But it’s all worth it when you have your own business.

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I do like talking to my seatmates. I never used to be able to do that back in my previous job because the plane was about the only time I could catch some sleep in between buying and selling companies.
On one flight I was near a little girl who opened her window shade, pointed at the clouds and, with wide eyes, immediately turned to me and told me this must be heaven. It was so charming to hear her view of the world, especially when you’re busy with your work. I really enjoy the simple pleasures of flying for business. I love watching a movie or listening to music, and yes, an eye mask, pillow and glass of wine are great, too.

Everyone knows the holidays in New York can be kind of insane, so I decided to escape the states and take a trip to Cape Town, South Africa, a couple of years ago to celebrate the new year there. It was a treat to myself, but I had some issues.

My passport was sent to the wrong address and I had to take a train from New York to Boston to go get it. I missed my original flight scheduled to leave on Dec. 29, but somehow I miraculously managed to rebook a new flight and landed in Cape Town on the 31st of December.

During the flight I was sitting next to a little boy who was seated away from his mom and siblings. He was about 8 years old, and it was a very long flight. The thrill of sitting alone and having the video screen all to himself eventually wore off and he looked really bored.

I started chatting with him and I wound up teaching him how to make origami paper cranes from the pages of magazines I had with me. I told him about the Japanese legend that promises anyone who folds a thousand cranes gets a wish granted, maybe even eternal good luck. He loved it and soon got a couple of other fellow passengers to join in.

Apparently, you need more than a 15-hour flight to allow enough time for 1,000 cranes to be crafted. But, we were having a blast, and so were the other passengers. I never knew what he wished for, but I have this feeling that he may have kept on making those cranes long after we landed. Maybe he even started teaching someone else.

To join Donna and Surprise Ride on our adventures in the upcoming year click here: http://www.surpriseride.com/join-the-family/


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