Out And About Personal Security
- Jared VanLue
Something I've been thinking about lately regarding security has nothing to do with the airplane. I'm pretty adventurous on layovers and like to explore different cities. It's one of the perks of the job, right?
I often go out alone because it's usually daytime and I'm a fast walker. I'm normally not too worried about my personal safety/security in the United States, but a recent incident that happened to a fellow pilot has got me reconsidering my actions.
This pilot was robbed during the day in a busy downtown waterfront area of a large city. According to his statement, he was approached by multiple youth, beaten up, and robbed of his personal things AND his hotel room key.
Remember some basic tips about personal security while exploring on a layover. It's all common sense stuff, but in the age of smartphones maybe we need to remind ourselves.
If your head is down in your mobile device you are an instant 'mark', especially in tourist cities. Look at a map before you leave the hotel and get a route in your head beforehand. I look for the tallest building near the hotel and use that as a landmark.
Walk with a purpose. It's kind of like when I would skip class in High School; act like you're supposed to be there and nobody will bother you. It's like you're on a mission and not to be bothered.
Keep your head up, eyes and ears open. If you've got earbuds in, take them out or turn the volume off. I've been in some slightly sketchy areas in large metro areas of the US and you'd be amazed at how far sound travels sometimes.
Don't carry your hotel room key in the little sleeve with the room number written on it that you get upon check-in.
Talk to the hotel staff about the best way to get somewhere. A friend of mine told me about a bakery three miles away from the hotel. I showed my proposed route to the concierge and he had genuine concern and fear in his eyes about how I was going to get there. If the locals won't go that way, neither will I. He had a slightly longer route, but it was much more traveled and safer.