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Kelly Hansen Writes New York Times Article on Travel!

Even a Rock Star Has to Be Careful
Published: February 25, 2013

I HAVE flown so much that most of my trips are routine. I’m either off to a concert or coming back from one. I’m actually very Zen-like when I fly. I just accept the delays since there’s nothing I can do about it. But all the travel is great because I love seeing new places and meeting new people. Or, sometimes, seeing people I’ve known for a long time.

I was going from Minneapolis back to Los Angeles and I was standing at the gate checking e-mails when someone walked up to me and grabbed my arm. It was my girlfriend from when I was 17 years old, who happens to be a flight attendant. That was a mind blower.

Sometimes people recognize me. But what generally happens is if we’re traveling in a group, passengers might start to talk among themselves, wondering who we are. That’s kind of fun because usually they know all of our songs.

If I’m traveling alone, I don’t mind talking to seatmates, but I’d sooner just enjoy the flight. If someone asks me what I do, I generally reply, “I’m in music.” But if they ask what band, I say Foreigner. Either people break into a smile, or they say, “You mean, Foreigner, Foreigner?” I always want to say, “No, the other Foreigner.” But I don’t.

A lot of times the crew knows who we are, and word spreads that way. There was one flight where the attendants must have told the pilots. A little while into the flight, the pilots came over the P.A. system, and they just started singing a medley of Foreigner songs, including “Feels Like The First Time” and “Hot Blooded.” Everyone got a good laugh. I wasn’t worried about my day job. I thought as singers they made great pilots.

I have a lot of respect for the job they do. I had a flight coming into Los Angeles and the pilot came on and said that because of a questionable oil-pressure reading, he was going to “have to shut down the left engine — scratch that, right engine.” Even though I’m not a nervous flier, I was in disbelief. And then I thought about it for a minute, and realized this guy was so into the zone of dealing with a problem, that he just misspoke. We landed without incident, and that’s when you’re really grateful for a good pilot.

As a vocalist I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my throat has its own set of demands. My throat is a diva. My No. 1 tip for travel is a scarf. Everyone who has traveled with me knows that I call my scarf “the Great Equalizer” because it levels the temperature when you go from air conditioning to a hot Jetway, both of which can affect my voice.

My current favorite is a lightweight black scarf that works particularly well for warm-weather travel. I never thought I’d have a summer scarf, but I do. When I get on the plane and it’s scorching hot, I unwrap it. But when that big tin can hits 35,000 feet, it usually gets cold, so I wrap it around my neck. But there are other benefits which are equally, if not more, valuable.

There are many times that I might sleep on a plane, either on purpose or by accident. Now remember, I’m a lead singer, and I’m a little vain and self-conscious. I don’t want to fall asleep and have my mouth hanging open for people to count my fillings. So with this summer scarf, I can pull one thin layer up over my nose and go to sleep knowing I’m safe from most embarrassment, including YouTube.

By Kelly Hansen, as told to Joan Raymond. E-mail:

A version of this article appeared in print on February 26, 2013, on page B6 of the New York edition with the headline: Even a Rock Star Has to Be Careful.


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