Trans States Flight Attendants Recognized for Excellence

This quarter our codeshare, United Airlines, had 65 nominations for the UAXcellence recognition program.  Out of a total of 18 award-winners, Trans States had six flight attendants win the prestigious award! Please join us in congratulating Rebecca Reid, Alisha Nieshe, Sheryl Smith, Opal Gunn, Aryen Barr, and Michelle Scarfino, on a job well done. United considers awardees to be high-performers who regularly go above and beyond their duties with superior quality and results. Read some of their stories below:

REBECCA REID

Alisha and Rebecca
Trans States Airlines Flight Attendants, Alisha Nieshe and Rebecca Reid. Both are recognized as UAXcellence winners.

My grandparents raised me, so I grew up around airplanes as my grandpa was in the Air Force/Air National Guard. He was stationed in STL at Lambert and I would go to work with him when I was little and get to play on the airplanes and hangout at his office. I loved every minute of it!

I started flying when I was 19 years old at Trans States Airlines. I came across the interview by mistake as I thought I was going to interview for an Airport Customer Service Runner. Well, after the interview to be a flight attendant I was hooked. I was at TSA for about a year and then I went to TWA. TWA was a STL staple, so I was only overjoyed that I got to work at such an iconic airline. After 9/11 I was furloughed from TWA and returned to TSA. I was happy to return to my “family” and to be able to keep flying. I was at TSA another 2 years and then I took a departure from flying to attend school. From the moment I left I missed it. Once flying is in your soul you can’t let it go. Life went on and about 10 years had passed, and I came to realize that you only get one life. You might as well spend it doing what you love. I was very grateful to be able to return TSA and this time not only to some of the same wonderful people I had worked with before but with a new-found respect and gratitude that I was going to be able to do what I loved to do for a living again.

I have now been here for four years this coming September and I am grateful and honored every day. I am now a check airman and help in the inflight department with flow of flight. I love being a check airman as I get to meet the new trainees and see them apply all of their new-found knowledge.

SHERYL D. SMITH

Sheryl D. Smith
Trans States Airlines Flight Attendant, Sheryl D. Smith

I’ve had the pleasure of working for Trans States for three years and 10 months. I love setting and maintaining the mood of gladness on each flight!  I never know what someone’s day held for them prior to them approaching the main cabin door. Therefore, I discard anything non-positive, because those valuable customers who crossed my threshold, have usually never met me. Whatever may have them not feeling their happiest, initiated before we saw one another, and I never internalize that energy.  Those who’ve been on one of my flights gladly say, “It’s good to see you again!”

It gives me great pleasure knowing each passenger exits the same main cabin door with thankfulness for my service, appreciation of my smile throughout my announcements on the flight, joy from my personalization using names with each passenger and appreciation of my professionalism! Those emotions are frequently accompanied with a pat on the shoulder, handshake, a fist bump, even a hug or occasional request to be photographed together!

I take none of it lightly! From 50 passengers plus a Jumpseater and lap children, to 1 passenger on his “personal jet,” every flight gets the very best I have to offer.

ARYEN J. BARR

AJ Barr
Trans States Airlines Flight Attendant, Aryen J. Barr

Most people know me as AJ and I’m ORD based flight attendant. I have been with Trans States for four years and have had the time of my life! What I love most about being a flight attendant is getting to opportunity to meet various people from around the world with unique experiences. Learning about these people has helped me become a better person. Whether it’s a beautiful travel day and we’re 45 minutes early or we’re behind schedule, getting to know the people I encounter and trying to make their lives better brings me joy.

 

MICHELLE MANTIA-SCARFINO

michelle scarfinoI’ve worked at Trans States airlines since 2014. What I love about flying is serving customers and having the opportunity to interact with them. I try to call every passenger by name, which they love, and treat them like they are a guest in my home. No matter what they may have experienced prior to walking through that main cabin door, I try to create a positive and pleasant experience for them while on board. My goal is always to treat everyone the way I would like to be treated.

To learn more about becoming a Trans States flight attendant, click here: https://bit.ly/2Gh8xaS. To nominate a current employee for Trans States’ Above and Beyond program, click here: https://bit.ly/2rHSLR5.

Aviators Walk a Clear Path to Trans States’ Flight Deck

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Former Trans States Airlines Aviators Kyle Meyer (L) and George Chiampas (R) who are now First Officers in training. 

Student pilots who dream to fly begin determining an airline home as early as their private pilot’s license is obtained, and they’ve enrolled in flight school. For Kyle Meyer and George Chiampas, the best choice was Trans States Airlines. As former interns in Trans States’ Aviators internship program and now First Officers in training, these gentlemen have paved a clear and defined pathway to our flight deck. Find out how our Aviators began their journeys to the best culture, community and camaraderie of any regional airline.

“Between bases, pay, and the ability to fly, Trans States provides the quickest route to the major airlines with the greatest quality of life for what I am looking for, Meyer said.”

In addition to quality of life provisions provided for Trans States pilots, Aviators also appreciate the way in which the airline conducts training.  After applying and being selected to become a Trans States Aviator, student pilots are invited to spend four days at the St. Louis-based headquarters where they receive a pilot mentor, meet Flight Ops teams, talk with students in systems training, tour the facility and more.

“The way the instructors approach different topics helped me to easily understand the material,” Chiampas said. “The class size is small which is beneficial for learning, and the training is realistic. We went into the cabin trainer for a session with a fog machine which was a really great experience. I was also able to have one-on-one time with the instructor to make sure that I fully understood the content. The instructors really do the best they can to give you an amazing learning experience. It’s clear that they truly have your best interest at heart and want you to be the best pilot you can be.”

Meyer added “The training environment at Trans States has been amazing compared to friends of mine at other airlines. Everything is done at the St. Louis headquarters, other than the ATP/CTP course, unlike my friends who have moved between training facilities multiple times. If there is an issue with uniforms or travel for example, I can walk downstairs during one of our breaks and talk with a person in the department. I also appreciate how the instructor takes the time to get to know you and better prepares you for the exams. With Trans States, we have the time for hands-on practice with the material that we have been taught.”

Once students are accepted into the Aviators Program they act as a field recruiter for Trans States recruiting events. They also have the opportunity to bank $1,500 for each pilot that they refer, is hired, and completes their training. Once Aviators complete ATP minimums they become a Trans States First Officer in training and are eligible for new hire bonuses and all banked funds.

To learn more about Trans States’ Aviators program, please click here: http://bit.ly/2BLlGdV

“People who Care” Why Ben Zwebner Flies Trans States

Ben Zwebner
Trans States Captain Ben Zwebner

When he’s not flying the line, Captain Ben Zwebner is the voice behind the “Ask a Line Pilot” feature on our website, where he answers questions on topics ranging from base assignments and bidding, to what life is like on reserve.  Recently, someone asked Ben why he personally chose to fly for Trans States, and why he would recommend Trans States over another regional airline.  Here’s what Ben had to say:

Back in 2010, I interviewed with three regional airlines.  All were big names at the time. I was offered a position with two, and I accepted the one that I felt best fit what I was looking for.  But I was a brand new commercial pilot, and knew very little about airline life.  Long story short, it was not a positive experience.  I had such a rough time working for them that I eventually quit and swore off  an airline career altogether.

Instead, I  pursued a career in general aviation, accepting a position as the Chief Instructor of a 141 flight academy, while working other flying side jobs.  After two years at the school, two of my instructors and friends left to work for Trans States, and they both listed me as a reference.  Later, Trans States recruiting reached out to me through them as a potential candidate.  Naturally I was hesitant to get back into the airline world.  Yet due to my friends’ enthusiasm about Trans States, I decided  that I at least needed to call the recruiters back, thank them, and tell them that I intended to decline the offer. 

But even though my response was “thanks, but no thanks,” a recruiter convinced me to come to St. Louis for an interview anyways.  Off I went. I had no intention of taking the job.  I wore a polo shirt and khakis because I was just taking the interview to be polite.  I don’t think that I even tucked my shirt in. 

However, when I arrived, the interview was different than my previous airline interviews.  The other three interviews I had done years before felt very cold and cookie cutter. 

At Trans States, I felt like the recruiter was more interested in who I was, as opposed to what I had memorized from an interview prep book. 

We had a very friendly conversation. While I was sitting there, a sim instructor dropped by and joined the conversation.  I saw a very warm and friendly dynamic.  Over the next few days, I hung around the airport and spoke with as many Trans States pilots as I could. Each one of them told me how much they liked working there.  After much deliberation, I took the job!

When I started training in 2014, the FAA changed over to the new ATP rules that we know today.  When I passed my systems oral exam and the paperwork went to the FAA, Captain Stelzner, the System Chief Pilot, was informed that I was not eligible to fly at a 121 airline under the new ATP rules, due to a grey area in the new rules that I fell into with my ATP certificate.

Captain Stelzner called me up to apologize, and told me that I was going to be cut from the course.  But instead of firing me, he found me a position as a training scheduler so that I could have a job, maintain my seniority and stay with Trans States while I worked on finding a solution.  A month later, the FAA approved my returning to the course.  Within 12 hours I was back in a class, picking up where I left off.   

Trans States could have just pushed me aside as if I was just another pilot–and I was exactly that, just another pilot.  But they didn’t. That same Captain Stelzner, who helped me find a solution rather than letting me go, is now our Director of Flight Operations, which is very comforting.

When I interviewed with the other airlines in the past, despite being excited that I was offered the job, I felt that I was just a number to them.  At my old airline, I most definitely just felt like a number on their roster, and was treated as such.  

At Trans States, Crew Scheduling knows me by name. They even called me to congratulate me on the birth of my son. 

Another time, I was on my way in for a trip when I got the news that my cousin’s wife lost her battle to leukemia overseas.  I told my Regional Chief Pilot and he told me on the spot that I could go be with my family. He said would find a way to cover my flying. Just like that.  All so I could be with my cousin during his loss. Having the benefit of seeing how it could be, I am glad of how it is here, at Trans States. 

I know that was long-winded but my point is that the people at Trans States care.  That means a lot in the 121 world. There’s more to an airline than numbers, statistics, seats in the back, or if the engines are mounted on the wings or the tail. 

Kermit the Frog sings, “It’s not easy being green. People tend to pass you over because you are not standing out like sparkles on the water or stars in the sky.” 

That’s us.  We are green.  We don’t have the sparkles of the bigger planes, but we have a great set of values and management that I feel truly cares.  I enjoy coming into work because I love my crew members. Each one of them has become like an extended family member. Some are close like brothers and sisters, others are like your kooky aunt who you see once a year, but overall, they are good and fun-loving professionals that make each trip a joy.  Trans States is a small company with a good heart.  

Do you have questions about life at Trans States?  Captain Zwebner can answer them here: http://bit.ly/2CGkGtg

The Perfect Layover in Gunnison

Hi! This is Chris Ashbach again. I’m back with another perfect layover idea. This time, I’m in Gunnison, Colorado. Gunnison is a year-round tourist destination that offers everything for the outdoorsman, from world class fly fishing, to hiking and skiing. Trans States Airlines has a regular layover here that arrives about lunchtime with a departure the next morning so you get to have the afternoon to explore this jewel of the Rockies.

Our layover hotel is just north of downtown Gunnison. From the hotel, there are three things within walking distance that are worth visiting; downtown Gunnison, The Powerstop, and the Gunnison State Wildlife Area. For the more adventurous, I’d recommend trying fly fishing. You can also visit Crested Butte, or just take a tour around on the free Gunnison Valley RTA bus.

Near Our Hotel

Downtown Gunnison

Downtown Gunnison is an easy walk from our hotel. If you prefer, the van driver is usually more than happy to offer crews a ride to town though. Gunnison offers a few restaurants and some shopping. It’s a good way to spend a couple of hours on a nice afternoon. If you are looking for recommendations, check out The Twisted Fork which offers Asian influenced American food. For great pizza and an outdoor patio, visit High Alpine. On a recent trip, I really enjoyed The Bean cafe. It is a little more hipster and has some great coffee and crepes.

The Powerstop

After several Captains told me it was one of the best burgers they had ever eaten, I had to try The Powerstop. While The Powerstop is an old gas station, it won’t take you more than one bite to know they make an absolutely killer burger.

Hike the Gunnison State Wildlife Area

A short walk northwest from the hotel will bring you to a dirt road that leads both wanderers and seasoned walkers to this wildlife area. It is a gorgeous walk and a large loop through the wilderness. During the winters, you will see cross-country skiers. Other times of the year, you may see couples out for a sunny walk, along with the occasional runner.

The wildlife area is very flat and is easily accessible. Clearly marked paths help keep you on the right track as you explore some of the natural beauty Gunnison has to offer. If you visit, make sure to walk all the way to the west, toward the large cliff face. Nestled next to the towering rock cliffs of the mountain you will see the Gunnison River tumbling and churning past you. It’s a perfect place to sit and read a book while the warm sun beats down on you next to the cool mountain water rushing by.

Make a Day Trip Through the Gunnison Valley

If you are a little more adventurous, you have to see some of the rest of the Gunnison Valley. It offers a lot of outdoor recreation, shopping, and history to explore.

Getting Around the Valley

The Gunnison Valley has a free bus that is scheduled throughout the day. Getting on the Gunnison Valley RTA is simple; the nearest stop is a stones throw from our hotel. The front desk has a schedule and can give you directions if needed. The RTA runs between Crested Butte and Gunnison and makes several stops along the way.

I caught this bus at the corner of Spencer and Main. Along the bus’s route, three stops worth noting for our layovers: First, the historic district of Crested Butte. Second, the Crested Butte Mountain Village and finally, the Three Rivers Resort in Alma for fly fishing. This stop is a flag stop and you have to tell the bus driver or the bus will continue without stopping. To get picked up here, just wait at the stop to waive the bus for your return.

Visit the Crested Butte Historic District

Crested Butte was originally settled in the late 1800’s as a hard rock mining town. Today, visitors can step back in time and experience the sense of adventure the first explorers must have felt when they see this historic town. To get here, simply take the valley transit bus and get off at the “Crested Butte 4 Way” stop. As you exit the bus, you will be directly in front of the Crested Butte visitors center, which is at one end of the four-block-long historic district. Enjoy shopping, dining, and even a gourmet donut shop while you are in town.

I’d like to tell you that I had enough self-control to avoid Nikky’s Donut Shop while I visited. But that would be a lie… Look at how good these little guys are!

Mountain Village in Crested Butte

Mountain Village in Crested Butte is the entryway to world-class skiing on Mount Crested Butte. Nestled at the foot of the ski resort, Mountain Village offers direct access to the hills. I tried to get a half day pass. So you know, between the rentals and the pass, it came to about $180. You can check ahead of time to see if they have any specials at 877-547-5143. If that is out of your price range, you can still visit the public square and the patios with scenic views of the resort. It’s a great place to people watch, get something to eat and enjoy some fresh mountain air.

Fly Fish the Gunnison or Taylor Rivers.

The Three Rivers Resort and Outfitting in Almont has a fly shop that offers guides, rental gear, and plenty of advice for a new fly fisherman. Many people don’t know that the Gunnison Valley has some of the worlds best fly fishing and many of Colorado’s record fish have come from the Taylor River, a tributary to the Gunnison River. I took the crew out last January for some winter fishing and made this video to share what a beautiful place this is.

Why is the Taylor River such a unique place to fish? It is protected from large amounts of fishing pressure by its remote location and the Taylor Park Reservoir which feeds the lower Taylor River. It has produced many trophy fish because it is filled with high-calorie mysis shrimp. Many decades ago, in an effort to bolster Colorado’s fishing, mysis shrimp were introduced to the reservoirs as food for the trout. These shrimp were originally harvested from the Great Lakes and thrive in very sterile low-nutrient waters and were thought to be a perfect match for the very pure mountain water reservoirs. For various reasons, only a handful of reservoirs successfully hosted and then fed the shrimp to these trout downstream. The Taylor River is one of the success stories of this project leading to very large and abundant trout for anglers to hook.

With trophy-sized Rainbow, Brown, and Brook Trout calling us just minutes away, I convinced the Captain to split the cost of a rental car with me. We did some serious team building by renting fly gear and hitting this exceptionally rare honey-hole of a river with a couple of fly rods. We braved the mid-January cold and headed up to the Taylor River reservoir. To get there, drive 15 minutes to Alma, rent your gear, and then continue 20 miles up Country Road 742 to the dam. The road twists and turns along the river bank among the high peaks of the mountains on both sides. As you drive, you will see well-marked let-in places to fish. I recommend starting at the top by the reservoir and working your way down.

Learn More About Working at Trans States Airlines

Culture. Community. Camaraderie. You’ll find it all at Trans States. Click here to learn more about careers at Trans States and to apply online.

This article was written by Chris Ashbach, MA; a First Officer at Trans States Airlines, professional speaker, blogger, and photographer. If you liked “The Perfect Layover In Gunnison” please read “A Winter Wonderland in Sioux Falls.” Chris owns the travel site VacationTripReviews.com and a food blog FourKidsAndAChicken.com. In addition, Chris owns LiveDan330.com and his brand has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal, Investment News Magazine, and IZEA, Inc. You are welcome to read more about Chris on ChrisAshbach.com. Chris is also a featured gardener in the upcoming book on Straw Bale Gardening by New York Times best-selling author Joel Karsten.

 

Passenger Declares Trans States Flight Crew “Santa’s Angels and Elves”

TSA Blog Photo 1.16.18
“Santa’s Angels & Elves” (Captain Richard Gittings, First Officer Jason Lawrence, and Flight Attendant Dana George) pose for a selfie with passengers on Christmas Eve

The holidays may be over, but we couldn’t resist sharing this passenger’s story of how the kindness of one of our flight crews turned a stressful situation into a flight that she and her family would never forget.

I wanted to tell you about a Christmas miracle that three of your crew members helped bring about. Captain Richard Gittings, First Officer Jason Lawrence, and the amazing Flight Attendant Dana George were Santa’s elves and angels for our family on the evening of December 24 on a flight from Denver to Dickinson, North Dakota.

In order to understand how much their kindness and generosity meant to us, I would like to give you a little background.  My husband is a chemical engineer and works away from home half the year.  For the last two years, we have missed every holiday together.  It has been very hard for my three children, my husband, and I.  After a lot of thought, we decided to splurge on plane tickets. This would mean we could be together for Christmas, even though it was in a work location. There was no tree or presents, but what really mattered was that we would be together. We don’t fly much or have the opportunity to go on vacation—this was a big deal!

Our flight out of Casper, Wyoming was delayed by over an hour and a half, and we had anticipated a two-hour layover in Denver.  I prayed that we would have 30 minutes to get to our gate. Many of the passengers expressed that they would have to get a flight out on Christmas Day because they had already missed their connection.  I was very anxious.

When we exited the plane onto the tarmac in Denver, it appeared I had 10 minutes to get my children and myself to the next gate.  I didn’t know how far it was, and I was panicked. When we entered the building, I was crying.  All I could think was that after two years of no holidays, missed birthdays, and missed events, we were going to spend Christmas at the airport!

As I entered the airport I gave my boarding passes to the first person who appeared to work for the airport and asked where our gate was and if they could help me.  Your crew was there!  All three of them said, “You are here! You can board the plane with us!”

The Captain and Flight Attendant reassured me it was okay, that I had made it.  Honestly, I think I had only three minutes after getting off the previous flight.  After your crew talked to me for a minute, and I knew we definitely were going to get to Dickinson, I started crying tears of joy!  Not knowing our history, I am sure some people thought I was nuts, but your crew was so gracious.

Once we boarded the flight to Dickinson and were in the air, Dana George started getting refreshments. She was so kind, and my daughter and son joked with her.  My son even said, “Ms. George treated me like a king.”  Their kindness meant so much to us.  It has been a rough year, and they literally brought a miracle to our family.  We were able to be together!

My family was desperately in need of kindness and we received it from your crew.

When we arrived, the Captain generously gave a tour of the aircraft to my kids.  They loved it!  He was such a fun guy!  Thank you for these incredible people.  Their kindness meant so much to my little family.  I will forever remember this crew.  It really was a Christmas miracle!

Thank you so much for this amazing experience.