Diary of An Ex KLM Platinum Frequent Flyer

I have once been a Platinum frequent flyer of KLM Dutch airline, which may sound great to some, but to me, it’s a sad reminder of a period when airport lounges were more familiar to me than home.

Having said that, I add that I was never afraid of flying. And I’m sure I have mentioned this in another post. But over the years, I became fearful, not because aeroplane crashes increased, but my fear of them.

Maybe it’s fear of dying that kicks in. Or perhaps I overthink and add too many details to it. When I was younger, I asked many more questions than now, but the latter, although less, are more relevant.

Is death what I fear? What comes to mind first, don’t laugh, is not to die per se, but leaving suddenly without having organised my administration enough, with clear instructions on where my family can find my papers and passwords, etc. I want to ease my family’s handling of the bureaucracy associated with my being dead, for having dual citizenship and being accountable to two tax systems. I guess we all know what the taxman does to our sanity, right? Let me not digress, please.

I’m not a freak, I promise you, but I have three times experienced the discomforting events that belong on the road to death.

Once, I accompanied a friend to the airport to dispatch the body of her child as cargo. The saddest farewell I have ever bid, and don’t wish to anyone.

Then, on another occasion, having no experience with it, I had to organise the funeral of my boss, in the middle of the night, as the family was abroad and too distraught. I cried so much during the funeral, but half of my tears were of exhaustion and relief that all went right.

Finally, on a milder note, I helped another friend to deal with the two-tax system’s laws, due to the inheritance left by her aunt in another country, the one I was coincidently living in that time. It was massively complicated, as she had not organised her papers, and we wished we had hired ‘Emile Poirot’ to decipher her aunt’s administration.

Those situations reminded me of the understatement that we are never ready to die but made me also incredibly aware of another inevitable reality. We have to not only comply with a lot of norms and rules, while alive but even when dead. And perhaps I may sound sort of ‘doomsday’, but we’re better off when we can preempt some of the hassles and leave a navigation system to be used by our relatives, on our wishes and issues.

I have donated my organs, have an official will, and want to be cremated. Shouldn’t I make this known? That’s what I’m talking about.

I have it all settled though, including giving power of attorney to three of my siblings, if my husband no longer lives.

Why then, having organised to ‘die’ in peace, was I in those last three days before my most recent trip, having a recurring feeling that my upcoming flight could go wrong, and feared for that?

I have abhorred those evil thoughts, afraid that thinking of it, would give them room to become a reality. Superstition or simply fear? I went for fear. But fear of what? I’m not afraid of dying, per se. I have no idea where I’m going, but whatever that is, I want to meet my brother, uncles and aunts, and some beloved friends. Not bad. I like living though, very much, and have no intention to go there yet. They can wait.

Still, I spent two days with those heavy thoughts populating my mind. At the airport, I decided to share my fearful feelings with my husband. His nonchalant reaction broke the spell when he suggested that from that day on, we would travel separately so that I could live in peace, as he would take care of the administration on my behalf. He’s very pragmatic, but I’m afraid that he may have started to think that I’m not ok. We both laughed, though.

As we were travelling together, I started sending all my passwords (phones, computers, bank accounts), to my brother, hoping to not wake him up at such early hours. He replied, one hour later, making fun of my behaviour and warning me that (according to him), I’m going to live till 100, as I don’t drink as much as he does.

If you want to know, after I sent everything to him, the fear was gone. I could travel, in peace.

Wait a minute, what if he dies before me?

I was just kidding you! But if you were curious to know, yes, I have a backup plan.

Did you ever worry about that, or should I worry about myself?

Posted by

Sharing my views and experiences with words and photos - taken with diverse angles - influenced by the multicultural countries I have lived and worked. I studied Psychology and have an MBA. After working for corporates, I became an entrepreneur and consultant. Cycling, hiking, windsurfing, cooking, reading, yoga, writing and photographing, are no longer just hobbies listed in a resume.

27 thoughts on “Diary of An Ex KLM Platinum Frequent Flyer

  1. That’s a brilliant post. Your husband’s reaction is the best! Actually, the administrative trouble with passwords etc. is one of the main things that always stop me from killing myself (if I may be so morbid, but it’s true). I do hope I won’t die before I get these things sorted so that those who survive me would know for example that they shouldn’t throw out my priceless books signed by their authors 🙂 So, you shouldn’t be worried. Especially not now you have everything organised.

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    1. Thanks, Mara. His reaction was great, but we’ll continue travelling together, just because. I hope you’ll never organise your administration, so we can have you here for another 100 years.
      You have to write down what you want to be done; otherwise, it won’t happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Whenever we travel, I let relatives know where everything is (wills, passwords, list of accounts). That started when we were in my 30s. People kid me and occasionally chastize me for possibly jinxing my travel plans, but my concern is for someone who has to deal with the aftermath of my demise.

    Eight years ago, the wife of my wife’s sister committed suicide. We were involved in “settling matters” for nearly a year (the husband is not technologically savvy, nor was he involved with the financials). A lot of effort went into figuring out the whole picture and obtaining access to accounts, and just figuring out where everything was. People should prepare and get their affairs in order regardless of the age, especially if they have kids (which, by the way, many people do once they have kids).

    As for flying separately . . . we hate that. We’re uncomfortable when one of us has to travel on our own (pretty much never now, but at one time, yes) precisely because the unthinkable might happen and one of us would be alone. There was real anxiety there which was not present when traveling together.

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    1. I’m very relieved to read your comment, sharing the same views I embrace. It’s really about making life easier for others As after my demise, I won’t be bothered by any mess I left behind.

      I relate to that anxiety you described as I feel the same. I don’t think we will ever fly separately; neither of us would want to be left alone.

      Thanks much for sharing your experience.

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  3. I love the way you are so organised. And I am moved to comment by the disparity between our posts today- yours on frequent flying, mine on homelessness. Perhaps the attraction of homelessness is not having to comply with all those rules, even if you have so few other choices. Each time you beg money, or buy drugs, you are breaking rules. Though there might be fear of the rules and their enforcers, and also considerable resentment.

    Primo Levi in Auschwitz observed that obeying the rules makes you die slowly, and that may apply to less extreme circumstances than his.

    On fear of flying, when jumbo jets first came into service, the stresses of flying subjected them to microfractures which the engineers were unaware of and then unable to detect. So there were inexplicable crashes. Possibly the fear of that age of flying survives now, when there are generally no hijackings, or plane crashes. Rain Man wanted to fly by QANTAS, which had the best safety record, but perhaps KLM’s would be sufficient for him, now.

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    1. Yes, Claire, my post shows what first world problems are like, and that’s senseless vis-a-vis your concerns about homelessness.

      I guess that we tend to magnify the hardship of our circumstances and only learn to appreciate its silliness, when submitted to extreme conditions.

      I’m actually not afraid of flying, but leaving a mess behind me. So, any airline will do.

      Thanks for joining the conversation. I do enjoy your insights.

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  4. Your fears seem quite rational to me Lucile. I think when we love people we want to spare them extra pain and stress when they are grieving. My husband’s parents left their affairs in total chaos. Now one is dead and the other,has dementia: the family is fractured and in fact broken, from trying to deal with this.

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    1. I’m more and more relieved to read here that many of you agree with my concerns. There are, as you shared, real cases out there, to show that it pays off to prevent havoc. Thanks for sharing, Su.
      And have a lovely weekend.

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  5. Lucile–I am totally with you on this. My husband and I have a will, he knows where I want to be cremated and to NOT put an announcement in the newspaper. I am so very private I will be darned if my life history goes into the newspapers when I am gone. No way. These things are important and I, for one, am glad you have peace of mind with this.

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  6. I have not flown from May of 2000 (long story) but continued to have a successful career long after grounding myself and have managed to make my way from The Netherlands to Vietnam without a plane. My goal is to travel a full circle before I return to the skies. My grounding was initially driven by a feeling of being out of control and fear of death by falling (or being blown up in the sky). But I’ve turned my fear into a welcome lifestyle that I am lucky to be living. My fear of death has diminished over the years as I have aligned my life with my dreams and in turn, I have developed an ever-increasing comfort level with being out of control. I hope I have a good, long life ahead of me, but if I die tomorrow, I will leave this place with a smile on my face.

    The first two of your discomforting events on the road to death made me gasp at the thought of how painful those experiences must have been. Goodness, I wish no one would have to die before their child does (my heart aches for your friend). And how many bosses are lucky enough to have their top employee give them a seamless send off to the benefit of their family.

    The third story definitely brings home the importance having a good navigation system in place to help those one has left behind. I am an organ donor, have a living will (pull the plug dammit) and share passwords with close friends and family before surgeries and long passages.

    I am glad your fears diminished by sharing your story (and your passwords) with your husband and your brother (and now us, your forever fans). But maybe your fears will lead you along a path to a new lifestyle that is out there waiting for you to live it. I have a wonderful life coach who I still use from time to time that helped me lift anchor from my desk and sail off into many amazing sunsets. Would be glad to connect you with her on LinkedIn if you are so inclined.

    Big hug from your soul sister in Hanoi.

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    1. Lisa, heartfelt thanks for sharing more of your life story.
      It’s amazing to learn all of that. What you felt about flying, I’d maybe feel about circumnavigating the oceans. It scares me. Our fears are unique, as are our experiences, but we learn from each other’s and get courage to change.
      Aligning our life with our dreams is certainly the most purposeful act we have to strive for, and that’s not an easy one.
      You did it and I’m proud of you and inspired by your journey.
      Sometimes we are blind to our dreams, not prepared for that or haven’t enough courage to pursue them. You are privileged to have achieved that.

      In retrospect, my experiences with death, as described, at an young age were easier, even if I wasn’t mature enough to handle them. Until I lost my brother. That brought death close home and then I became even more aware of the need to have a good life, as you pointed out.

      After that I needed to change my life’s direction, and to leave corporate life. I haven’t entirely lifted my desk anchor though, as I just changed to the other side of the corporate fence, and I’m not entirely sure if that’s the place to be for the next years. I’m currently reviewing that with the help of a coach.
      All you said is spot on, as I’m not done yet. My fears of not leaving my administration organized, pale in comparison to my fear of not aligning my life with my purpose and leading a meaningless life.
      Thank you so much for mentioning your life coach. I have one now but I’d appreciate to connect with yours for a future opportunity. We never know.
      Giant hug from your sister in Amsterdam.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My sense is that you are well along the path to aligning your life with your purpose/dream, even if you are not fully aware of what that is yet. And oh what a rich and meaningful life you’ve had along the way. I’ve learned so much from following you and I always find myself nodding in agreement with your perspectives and positions. Personally, I think you have a book (or two) in you.

        I know what it is like to have the loss of a loved one be a catalyst for change.We never get over the loss of a loved one but are lucky to have had the time with them that we did and I believe their spirit is here with us long after they’ve left the physical world.

        I am glad you are in the hands of a good life coach. I’ll send you my Life Coach’s information on LinkedIn for future reference. Hug from the train to Ho Chi Minh City. And thank you as always for being a champion of my dreams 🤗

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  7. As a rapidly-becoming-ex-frequent-flyer I did go through a phase of worrying about plane crashes but I have never considered the administration of my death. I fear that I may be a tad selfish about it, now that you mention it. I should organize myself. Love you x.

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    1. There was a phase when I also didn’t bother about it. But I was much younger and was living more in the ‘now’! 🤣 Thinking of it, I just realized that after we start a career, then we worry about the ‘tomorrow’, whilst gurus tell us to focus on the now.
      No wonder why we cannot.
      Then will come mid life crisis. And we’ll start it all over again, juggling with yesterday, now, and tomorrow.
      But now I’m digressing. Let me have some breakfast. 🤣 it might be hunger philosophy.
      Love you too! X

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  8. I have thought about the password problem , which seems such a symbol of our times; even more than the passwords, I’ve wondered if people will know where to find all the digital pictures, scattered among several computers or external drives. I’m impressed that you’ve dealt with the pragmatic side of leaving life, but I hope you live for many more years. Good post: it made me reflect.

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  9. Interesting post. You are good at this. My biggest fear is when we travel together with our children – we still do sometimes even if they are 27 and 25. For my birthday we did for example – with girlfriends/boyfriends as well. i am not a royalty(!) but I would not want us all to perish in a crash…
    Sometimes when we travel very far away to more insecure countries, I list passwords and to whom I want to leave my inherited old furniture and such. Some things from my childhood are precious to me – and so I want them to go to persons who will treasure them and keep them.
    About the thousands and thousands of pictures…no doubt no one will ever look at them – I don’t worry. When I am gone all travel memories will be gone as well. Our old films from when the children grew up, we have transformed into CDs and also put them on a harddrive. These will be made into two copies for our children.
    By the way- I finally found the bridge! https://lagottocattleya.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/cffc-bridges/

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    1. Thank you, Leya. I’m happy that you found it interesting. Thanks for sharing your experience too, as it makes me feel more normal. Indeed, it’s not about being royal, as we commoners also deserve to live without tragedies.
      Like you, I don’t care about the photos. It’s personal anyway.
      I’m thrilled that you found the photo of the bridge. It’s very similar and more impressive in stone. Maybe it served as an inspiration to the architects of the Dutch one. Who knows?

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      1. Yes, well – nothing is new on Earth we say in Sweden. I guess inspiration from others will always be there! That must be great to understand really…we are all in this together and everything is connected.

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  10. Oh Lucile what an awful few stories you share in this post. You poor thing for having to deal with such events. I also worry about these sorts of things, and passwords but feel I have things organised quite well I the event of my sudden demise. As we get older I think these issues can take on more importance. I did love your husband’s reaction!! I wish you well as you live to be 100!

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