Christian Nielsen: "Home is Where the Heart Is"
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This is our second entry in the ‘Meet the Management’ series, curated to peel back the curtain on the people that push AirHelp forward. Christian Nielsen is AirHelp’s Chief Legal Officer, committed to helping disrupted travelers claim what is rightfully theirs.
1. What is the travel destination that you most recommend to other people and why? Or, what are the one to three places in the world that have greatly influenced your life?
South Africa. First of all, it is beautiful beyond belief and in the same time zone as Europe. So no jet-lag. You can connect with nature and support endangered animals by going on a safari. As a nature and animal lover that was my favorite travel experience by far. By visiting, for example, Johannesburg, you will get up close to the racial conflicts that still boil in the country and see extreme poverty. Walk too far away from the tourist streets and it can get dangerous. It is really an eye-opener to see Europe in that perspective, we too easily take our peace, safety and high living standards for granted.
2. What gadget or accessory has most improved your travel experience?
I like to travel with as little planning as possible and as light as possible. I am anti-gadget but must admit that Tripadvisor can come in handy if you are stuck somewhere and you are lucky enough to find Wi-Fi.
3. How has a travel disruption or unexpected event while traveling resulted in a memorable experience?
Well, there was one time around 10 years ago flying back from New York that the airline staff at my connection in London forced me to check in my laptop; there had recently been a terrorist attack in London, so security was extraordinarily tight. My laptop never arrived at my final destination. I claimed for a refund of my laptop but was rejected with some silly explanation. Since I had just graduated from law school and worked as a junior lawyer, I took things in my own hand and filed summons against the airline in Danish court under the Montreal Convention. They paid quickly after. I actually still use that experience in my strategies for how to help our customers around the world.
4. If you could put an inspirational travel quote on the back of every airplane seat, what would it say and why?
“Home is where the heart is”. To me, that signifies that you are the master of your own experiences and that you can make anywhere feel like home if you put your heart into it.
5. What is an unusual meal, delicacy or snack that you love? Where did you first try it?
It’s not so unusual anymore, but the first time I had an acai smoothy on an early morning in Rio de Janeiro, I was hooked for life. I probably have one once a week.
6. In the last five years, what is a new place you’ve visited that has most affected your view of the world?
India. I’ve never experienced anything so different from my own culture. I now appreciate how hard it must be to start a business in India if you come with a European mindset. But we cannot forget how Europe was many years ago, doing our industrial revolution. Then imagine India now, having to deal with both an industrial and digital revolution at the same time.
7. What advice would you give a young student about to set off on a trip around the world? And what’s bad advice – what shouldn’t they do?
It is always more expensive than you think and you don’t want cash to be a limitation on the experiences you can get. So save more money for the trip than you think you should and don’t plan too much. Live day by day, freely. Oh, and don’t travel alone. You will want to cherish these experiences with someone else (and for safety too).
8. When you feel stressed at work, what’s the first thing you do or the first place you think of?
Physical exercise. Push-ups or a short run. Clears your mind. If I really need to log-off, I go surfing. There’s something about being in the ocean that re-balances you.
Flight delays happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them. You may be entitled to as much as $700 in compensation if your flight has been delayed, canceled or overbooked within the last three years.
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