My New Aviation Hero

I’ve written about Charles Kingsford Smith and Amelia Earhart, but I have a new hero in the skies. I’ve been in New York for the last couple of days and flew back yesterday on an Express Jet flight for Continental Express. I’m not sure if I understand what that means exactly either, but it doesn’t matter too much for the enjoyment of the story.

In recent times I’ve had horrible experiences while flying. Well, not exactly flying, more like waiting. For cancelled and delayed flights primarily. It has been bad and I don’t have easy access to the Southwests and Jet Blues of the world. (Though Jet Blue is hardly having a great time at the moment).

Yesterday I was in Albany early for my flight to Cleveland where I would be taking a flight back to Flint. The 2:30 flight to Cleveland had been cancelled and my 6:20ish flight was looking like it was going to be late. The woman behind the counter was predictably unhelpful and unhappy to be talking to humans. The outlook was bleak, but I kept hope. The plan actually landed pretty close to the time we were supposed to leave, so it looked okay. The woman with the microphone said we’d have to wait at least twenty minutes for the plane to be cleaned. Less than a minute after her pronouncement the door to the tunnel to the plane burst open and my hero yelled, “Let’s get these people on the plane! We’re ready to go!”

I neglected to get this man’s name as I was in a hurry to make sure I got my connection, but I am really regretting it now. He deserves to be recognized. As we walked onto the plane he welcomed everyone personally – not the usual drone that seems to occur every three people or so. “Welcome aboard.” Wait three people. “Welcome aboard.”  Don’t make eye contact.  This man, however, was positively jovial. This attitude continued all through the flight, but there was humour too. I’ll give you the highlights below.

  • He had water and pretzels to every person on board before we were even taxiing. (I would guess there were 60 people on board).
  • When explaining some of the safety precautions he explained that we could use the seat cushion as a floatation device and that in the event of a water landing we should feel obliged to take the cushion home with us as a souvenir.
  • He explained that there could be no smoking on board and if anyone was caught smoking in the lavatory they would be sent to the office of their high school principal.
  • He asked us to secure our trays in an upright position and put the seat back into the most uncomfortable position we could find. All of this was done in exactly the same happy voice as the unfunny instructions and without reading from a script.

This man showed the power of doing the little things. He made it seem like he had a different job description to every other flight steward I’ve met. He made the flight pleasant and he even made a veteran traveler like me listen to all of the safety precautions. I can’t remember how long it’s been since I did that.

Do the little things and you will be remembered.

2 Responses to My New Aviation Hero

  1. Charles D. Leibrand February 22, 2007 at 7:44 am #

    It the “Fish” philosophy in practice.

  2. Lisa February 22, 2007 at 7:55 pm #

    I’ve wondered where you’ve been at.

    I’ve had a few people like that in my life too…that are genuinely happy to see you there and serve even under stress. Love them.