I all but closed this blog a few years ago. I mean, life got busy. Having a baby makes life really busy. But I wanted/needed a place to put the incredible experience of being on board Southwest Flight 3451. So, hello again WordPress. Can’t believe I remembered my password. Maybe I’ll actually take the effort to post more things these days? I certainly still bake, and that baby we had is the cutest, and I’m also in the process of revamping a sad foreclosure we bought earlier this year. Anyway, that’s later. This is now:
As a little girl, I loved the 80s/90s boy band New Kids on the Block. My big sister was obsessed, so as the quintessential little sister, I of course did too. Even as their popularity waned in the 90s and I was more punk rock than teeny-bopper, I still listened to them. As an adult, it was just nostalgic and brought me back to a simpler time. In 2008, much to the joy of 25-to-40 year olds everywhere, they reunited! My mom, sister and myself had a great time reliving our younger days when we traveled to both Atlanta and Nashville to see them. So when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed a few weeks ago, and saw that all I had to do to enter a seat on the New Kids on the Block “Party Plane” (a big promotion with Southwest Airlines to promote their run at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas) was share a photo to my Facebook wall, I mean, why not? I completely forgot that I even did such a thing. No one wins those contests anyway, right?
Well, I did.
I was sitting at my office on a pretty uneventful Monday, when I got a Facebook notification telling me that, out of about what I estimated to be over 50,000 entries, I was one of 10 winners!
After spending 24 solid hours in denial, and convinced this was a big mean joke, it became VERY real when I had a FedEx package from Southwest Airlines on my doorstep with our passes, hotel confirmation numbers, and airline tickets.
The craziest part of this crazy story was that this just so happened to fall on my 30th birthday! So my husband and I spent the last day of my 20s traveling from Birmingham to Chicago and we mingled with the New Kids at the gate before hopping on the Party Plane to VEGAS!
I loved getting to know some of the other winners. Everyone was really sweet and funny and of course we all shared the bond of loving the same group of 5 guys for about as long as we can each remember. A lot of people don’t realize, but this was a standard Chicago>Vegas Southwest flight, so while we are buzzing around with excitement, the rest of the passengers were just wondering what was wrong with us and why we are all dressed up so cute for a 3 hour flight. They were completely oblivious, I’m sure, to the fact that there was a rotation of New Kids’ Greatest Hits on rotation in the airport’s PA system.
After DROPPING MY PHONE mid-selfie with Danny, I tried to regain my composure and talk to Jon. JON! Y’all, understand that he has always been my favorite. He was standing by himself over near the wall while everyone else was going bananas. I might have been a huge dork in this conversation, but I actually GOT to have one with him!
As I’m sure you can imagine, Gate B11 and the surrounding areas went nuts when they realized what was happening. We grabbed a group shot with the guys before boarding. I squeezed in between Danny and Jon and loved my life a lot in that moment. How about how my husband looks like the long-lost 6th member in this shot?
The guys were hilarious and clearly having as much fun as the winners. Jordan did the safety demo (to the tune of their 1990 hit Step-by-Step, obvi) and Jon passed out peanuts to every single passenger. I’m an educated, smart, professional 30-year-old woman, but when Jon Knight handed me a bag of airplane snacks…I just giggled and smiled like a doofus.
At any given time Joey was serenading us over the P.A. system, and Donnie bought unlimited cocktails for the entire plane.
I was devastated my big sister couldn’t join me, but Joey was lovely enough to record a video greeting for her in which he lamented her absence and assured her we weren’t having THAT good of a time without her.
And how about this VIDEO SELFIE with Jordan?! I treasure these 22 seconds of video very much. He’s. So. Cute.
I have to admit, I was a little nervous when I found out I would be meeting them. I’ve loved the New Kids since I was a little girl, one of my earliest memories was screaming “we won’t go!” at their concert here in Birmingham when I was about 5 years old. What if they were rude, arrogant, jerks who ignored us the whole time? To say that they were none of these things is an understatement. They were gracious, warm, funny guys who thrive off of being with their fans. They spoke to everyone of us, took time to take all of the selfies and videos our hearts desired, and asked us questions about ourselves
A “behind-the-scenes” of the Jordan selfie shot before he crawled over the seat to get a selfie with me…ME.
I also had a great time talking with their photographer, Brian Babinaeu. Brian also photographs for the Boston Bruins, the Red Sox, and is a killer food photographer. Since I’ve spent virtually the whole of my career being a prop stylist, we had a fantastic conversation about photography. We even swapped info, and I’m crossing my fingers we’ll get to work together sometime, NOT because I’m a fangirl, but because he’s incredible at what he does and working on a story with him would be an amazing experience!
Fortunately, when the wheels went down at the McCarren airport, the party didn’t stop. After getting big hugs goodbye from the guys, we headed to our comp’d hotel room at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, right in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip, and we were given tickets to see the opening night of the four-night run. Follow the link to check out Part II and Part III coming soon!