Think of a Strange Reason for a Travel Delay

Frankie Wood-Black has seemingly experienced them all
Frankie Wood-Black, Safety Expert
Frankie Wood-Black, Safety Expert

Frankie Wood-Black, Ph.D, M.B.A., R.E.M., Division Chair, Engineering, Physical Science and Process Technology at Northern Oklahoma College, and Principal of Sophic Pursuits, Inc.

Dr. Wood-Black has been in the petroleum and chemical industry for over 25 years with work experience in technical management; laboratory operations; environmental science and compliance; finance; and professional development. Dr. Wood-Black’s work experience has primarily has focused on refining and downstream operations. Prior to joining Northern Oklahoma College and starting Sophic Pursuits, she was employed with Trihydro Corporation, a full service environmental consulting firm; and was employed by ConocoPhillips before entering consulting.

In addition to her refining and chemical plant experience, she has worked on a number of remediation projects focusing on site reuse, environmental compliance associated with chemical management, air emissions, and emergency preparedness. Due to her research background, she has a fundamental understanding of monitoring techniques as well as technological solutions to specific issues in the field.


What is the one essential piece of personal tech you always travel with?

Here is what I keep in my carry-on for essential technology: my laptop, a tablet, and my smartphone. I also make sure I have a rechargeable battery as well as my charging adapters. One thing I also carry is a backup thumb drive, with the critical trip files. (You can use "the cloud" but there are times when that is not necessarily possible.) I have been on too many trips and have seen too many laptops come crashing down not to have those items backed up on a thumb drive. There is usually a business office where you can use a computer and get the information that you need.

Window or aisle?

This is dependent on the leg of the trip and length. If I have to make a connection - aisle. If it is a longer haul, and I am not worried about a connection, I tend toward a window over the wing so I can sleep.

Where would your dream business trip take you? What appeals to you about this destination?

Perth or Sydney, Australia, because I haven't been and that would check off a continent for me.

Airport you are highly motivated to avoid, if at all possible. Why?

As a transfer hub, Atlanta Hartsfield. It is too busy and too many opportunities to miss a connection. And, I am a seasonal person, I avoid Chicago in winter and Dallas-Ft-Worth in the spring.

How do you pass the time while flying?  

I read for pleasure, mysteries and spy novels. I don't do work if I can avoid it-- intellectual property issues, you never know who you are seated next to on the plane. I have seen contracts, patent applications, and other legal documents, which even if I try to avoid reading, I still see it. I have had to tell people they really need to close up the work, because I understand the material.

What is your go-to snack to bring on-board the plane?  

With the recent changes in the airports, I like to have a fruit and cheese plate, otherwise I try to have almonds.

Favorite ACS meeting site?

I like them all - Philadelphia, Boston, and San Diego are my top three.

What do you do to alleviate jet lag?

I try to make sure I have time on both ends of the trip. It saves the stress of what happens if a flight gets canceled or is delayed, in addition to being able to do a bit of adjustment due to the time change. When I was traveling for work and on the road 90% of the time, I kept to Mountain Time as my workday. This minimized having to deal with time changes while traveling and because I am a morning person made the biggest gap Eastern time, thus worked out well.

Was there a business trip you have taken that went particularly badly? What happened?  

Luckily for me, I tend to look at travel as an adventure. I have a list of interesting flight stories, like the delay due to the inappropriate language sprayed on the inside of the baggage compartment on the plane, or getting caught in the ice storm between airports, or the person wanting to jump out the exit door, or when the plane collided with the catering truck … I could go on. But that is why I now build in extra travel time. I have had too many delays that have been "just" in time (and actually a few minutes late) to very important meetings. My travels have been interrupted by "bombings" (the Isreali ticket counter in Rome), a general strike (also in Rome), hurricanes, ice storms, bird collisions, blizzards, and fugitive apprehensions. I have checked into a hotel late at night and found that the room was double booked and someone was already in the room, and I have been evacuated due to fires in the hotel. It is what happens when you have spent over 35 years in industry with many of those years traveling over 60% of the time. But I have met a lot of great people, shared some fun experiences, and understand the need for safety.

Your best business travel tip for readers of ACS Industry Matters?  

Here is my go-to tip - pack for the unexpected in your carry-on. I travel with extra clothes for overnight and plan for the unanticipated delay (and I try not to check a bag anywhere). You don't know where you might end up even when you thought you would be spending the night in a particular spot.

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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