Trans States Mechanic Helps Save a Life in Midair

STL hangar mechanic Mike Russell

Prior to his career as a Trans States A & P mechanic, Mike Russell was an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in New York City for over two decades.  Mike’s job at Trans States comes with American Airlines travel benefits, which he recently used to fly to Kingston, Jamaica to visit family.  Little did he know that during the trip, he would need to put his EMT training to work to help save a life in midair.

During the first leg of his trip, a flight from St. Louis to Miami, a passenger began experiencing shortness of breath, as well as other symptoms of a potentially serious medical condition.  When a flight attendant asked if any of the passengers had medical training, Mike and a doctor on board jumped into action.  Mike assisted the doctor in caring for the passenger until the flight could divert to Atlanta and the passenger could receive medical attention on the ground.

American Airlines was very impressed with Mike’s selfless actions, and sent him the below note of appreciation, as well as a voucher for future travel.

Dear Mr. Russell:

Please accept our company’s formal “Thank You” for the assistance you provided aboard your recent flight. We are all grateful that you were on board and freely offered your medical expertise when it was needed most. Without a doubt, you greatly improved a difficult situation.

As an expression of our appreciation for volunteering your time and experience, we’ve made arrangements for an eVoucher for you to use toward the purchase of a ticket to travel with us. I realize your offer of assistance was not motivated by any potential reward. Nevertheless, we wanted you to know how much your efforts were appreciated.

Whether it’s in our hangar or in the air, Mike can always be counted on to put others first.  We’re proud that he’s part of our team.

Flight Crew’s Actions Will “Give the Gift of Sight to Someone who Needs it”


When a Trans States flight diverted to Raleigh, a quick-thinking flight crew ensured that a critically important shipment of transplant tissues was saved.  The shipment contained corneas, which were en route to a medical center in Providence when the flight was diverted.

Fortunately, Flight Attendant Binh Kbuor noticed that the shipment had a notation asking for any delay information to be sent to a telephone number on the box.  Binh showed the notation to Captain Jason Secondi, who immediately followed up with MNX Global Logistics, the company that had coordinated the shipment.

In the below note, the COO of MNX Global Logistics explains how Binh and Jason’s actions ensured that the valuable tissues were saved and could be used in a future surgery.

“We were shipping corneas for transplant, when the flight was diverted to Raleigh. The pilot, Jason Secondi, took it upon himself to call the consignee in Providence from his personal cell phone and let them know the corneas were delayed. That information was passed to us at our call center, and we were able to speak directly to Jason several times.  He was extremely helpful, and although the intended surgery was missed, we were able to recover the shipment from a ground agent in Raleigh and return the corneas to the lab in Birmingham and salvage the precious tissue. Without Jason’s actions, this tissue would have been lost.

We always appreciate our partnership with American Airlines Cargo, but at times like this, we must recognize Jason’s actions, going above and beyond, to assist us with this precious shipment.

As always, we thank you and your team for all your support, and a very special thank you to Jason for going the extra mile and assuring the tissue wasn’t lost and guaranteeing the gift of sight for someone who needs it.”

Mechanic Chris Gage Goes Above and Beyond to Reunite Lost Wallet with its Owner


When maintenance found a wallet on one of our aircraft without any contact details for the owner, Trans States mechanic Chris Gage went above and beyond to track down the owner.

As the former CEO of Baxter International, and now a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg school of Management, I was truly surprised about something that recently happened to me.  I was on a United flight in one of your planes from Chicago to Charlotte, and when I arrived at my hotel, I discovered I had lost my wallet for the first time in 50 years. 

I called United, they searched the plane and found nothing.  I was going to cancel all of my credit cards and stop payment on the several checks in my wallet, but I was running to give a speech and didn’t have time. Since my phone number was not in my wallet, I gave up hope. To my complete surprise, the next day I received a call from Chris Gage.

He told me that one of his colleagues had found the wallet, and he wanted to send it to me ASAP.  When I asked how he located me, he stated that he had tried a number of ways to track me down, and when he found an AAA card in the wallet, he called them and was able to obtain my mobile number. 

I have never met Chris Gage, but he struck me as a true values-based person, someone the world clearly needs more of. 

When I thanked him, he told me he was just doing his job and didn’t need to be thanked.

Chris represents the values that drive us as a company – integrity, honesty, and perseverance.  Chris is just one of hundreds of Trans States employees around the country going above and beyond for our passengers each and every day.

Crew Provides Five Star Service During Delay

When a flight is delayed, two things are key – communicating with your passengers, and keep them comfortable.  During a recent delay, Captain Jason Newell, First Officer Cecilia Ernst and Flight Attendant Ayana Spann did just that, providing constant updates from the cockpit and textbook-perfect service in the cabin.  Here’s what one of our passengers had to say about her experience:

Ayana Spann
Five-star Fight Attendant Ayana Spann, showing off her joy-spreading smile!

I just wanted to give a shout out to Trans States Airlines Flight Attendant Ayana Spann. Captain Jason Newell and First Officer Cecilia Ernst.  They were amazing!   

When we got on the plane, Captain Newell announced that we were going to be delayed due to a paperwork issue, but both he and First Officer Cecilia Ernst  did a wonderful job keeping everyone updated.  Ayana had the biggest smile, a very positive attitude, and did whatever she needed to do to keep the passengers happy. 

When Captain Newell came back over the PA, he announced that the pilots had received the paperwork, but we were 1,200 lbs over in fuel and that flight would be further delayed while the issue was resolved. Right away, here comes Ayana with water service and a smile, making sure that everyone was comfortable throughout the delay.  She was a rock star!  Ayana did a wonderful job and is truly an asset to Trans States Airlines.  The pilots also deserve kudos for their part in keeping everyone updated, staying positive, keeping us safe, and getting us home. 

The crew was excellent, and they all represented the airline in a very professional manner.  Keep up the good work!


Jessica H.

Our crews are true professionals who are committed to providing outstanding customer service – even when things aren’t going as smoothly as we would like!



Flight Attendant Shows that a Little Bit of Kindness Goes a Long Way

Dwyght Lewis.jpg

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that have the biggest impact.  A simple gesture of kindness from a stranger can make a huge impression.  We received the below note from a passenger, who was blown away by the thoughtful actions of Trans States flight attendant Dwyght Lewis on a recent flight.

Dwyght Lewis, the flight attendant on our trip, gave me a HUGE smile when I entered the plane.  He immediately took my bag out of my hand and said that as soon as everyone sat down, he would bring the bag over and put it up for me, which he did. Before taking off, he then came by and told me that there were two open seats next to each other in the back of the plane, and that it might make my trip more comfortable to switch.  I took his kind offer and thankfully, we were very comfortable.  My son fell fast asleep as soon as we sat down.

Throughout the flight, despite having his regular duties, Dwyght came and checked in on me countless times to see if I was okay, comfortable and if I needed anything.  There was even a very rough patch of turbulence and he came by to check on us as soon as it stopped.  He reassure me that the flight was almost over and all was okay.  Prior to the flight ending, he told me that when we landed, to wait for everyone to get off, and he would come to the back and help me retrieve my bag and bring it to the front of the plane. Not only did he keep his word, but he took my bag, waited for my stroller and suitcase to come up from under the plane, and literally took it up for me.  He opened the stroller for me and told me that if I needed help even further, he’d be glad to help.  I told him I’d try to manage and thanked him.  My son was still asleep, and I was carefully trying to put him in the stroller, so it took a bit longer.

I then had to navigate down the terminal to catch an Uber. Right as I started walking away, he came up behind me and said,  “I have a son and I know how hard it is, let me help you.”  He proceeded to take my suitcase and bag along with his and brought me literally all the way outside to the curb where my Uber was waiting.  He then asked if I needed any other assistance.  Although he was heading out the same direction, he did not have to go out of his way to lend a hand.  He went above and beyond  in my opinion. He was friendly, courteous, thoughtful, and really phenomenal.

Tali V. 

We agree – Dwyght most certainly went above and beyond!  He’s been entered in our Above & Beyond contest, a quarterly contest that recognizes exemplary employees who go beyond the call of duty.  Thanks, Dwyght, for reminding us that it’s the little things that matter the most.

And the Fourth Quarter Above & Beyond Winners are…


The ballots have been cast, the votes have been tallied, and the winners of our fourth quarter 2015 Above & Beyond contest are now official.  This quarterly contest recognizes team members who go beyond what their job requires of them to provide exemplary service to our passengers. As always, we’re blown away by the kind and caring individuals who call Trans States home.

Ischell Laxon was the winner from our Inflight team.  She received so many customer compliments this quarter that we had trouble deciding on one to highlight.  We finally settled on one from a professional musician, who told us how Ischell went above and beyond to ensure the safety of his orchestra’s instruments during a flight.

Captain Cody Moser and Captain Thomas Ryba took the award in the Team/Flight Crew category.  Captain Moser and Captain Ryba won for the extraordinary way that they worked together to get a grieving passenger and her family on a flight to Houston after the unexpected death of her son.

The Maintenance award this quarter goes to mechanic Josh Varacalli, who finished his shift and then flew across the country so that he could spend his day off fixing a broken aircraft.  Josh was able to troubleshoot and fix the plane within just a few hours of arriving.  Of Josh, the co-worker who nominated him said, “His dedication to the company is truly above and beyond, and he deserves this award if anyone does.”

Our award winner in the Corporate/Station Employee category was Karen Hatlelid, the STL Station Manager. Karen frequently goes out of her way to provide special goodies in the crew room, and recently treated STL flight crews and maintenance employees to grilled cheese and fried egg sandwiches. The crew member who nominated Karen told us that she always has a big smile on her face and a positive attitude!

Our final fourth quarter award recipient is pilot Joshua Cobaugh, who was nominated by a flight attendant who has flown a number of trips with him.  She told us, “I’ve never come across a pilot quite like Josh! He has an amazingly work ethic and provides astonishing customer service to his fellow employees, as well as to the passengers.”

Whenever a flight attendant has a bag that won’t fit in the overhead bin, Josh always offers to carry it back to the jetbridge so the passengers don’t have to.  If there are no ramp employees to take them, he personally carries them to the back of the plane.  If an airport is short staffed during a late night arrival, Josh is quick to help with the wheelchairs, strollers and valet checked bags.  Josh also prioritizes passenger comfort—one cold morning while waiting on air stairs, he used his own bag as a step so that he could warm up the aircraft and ensure that it was at a comfortable temperature by the time the passengers boarded.

Josh’s commitment to his co-workers is also frequently on display.  After a flight, Josh can be found helping the flight attendants cross seat belts, clean out seat back pockets, and even re-stocking the galley.

What an awesome group of employees!  Each winner will receive a $50 Visa gift card for representing the airline in such an exemplary manner.  These individuals are truly representative of the Above & Beyond spirit!

That’s officially a wrap on Above & Beyond for 2015.  But stay tuned—the first quarter 2016 contest is already under way, and we’ll share some of the best submissions that we receive here.

Congratulations to the fourth quarter winners!

Flight Attendant Ischell Laxton Continues to Wow

Our Inflight team is very focused on the customer experience and works hard to provide a “Wow” experience for our customers on each and every flight. Last month we told you about Flight Attendant Ischell Laxton, who despite being a relatively new flight attendant, has been generating a seemingly endless number of rave reviews from our passengers.  The accolades for Ischell continue to pour in, and we wanted to share one of our recent favorites:

I am a United employee with 40 years of seniority and I had to take the time to compliment Ischell Laxton, the Flight Attendant that was on my flight 3362-27 HSV-DEN.  In all my years of flying I have never experienced a more pleasant, accommodating, helpful and generous crew member.

From the time we took off to the time we landed, she was all about the customer.  This 50 seat airplane on a 2 1/2 hour flight had no WiFi, no video, no meals, and was pretty full (39 out of 50), but the time went by quickly because of her.  Her announcements, safety demo, exit briefing, beverage service, follow up, cabin readiness, as well as anything else she could do, was delivered professionally and with a caring smile.  She obviously was by herself on this aircraft, but worked hard, and it was noticed by myself and others.  Believe it or not, a local Denver talk show host was on the flight and I heard him mention the flight on his radio show Saturday morning (his name is Ken Moon, on Denver station KHOW AM630).  This is an example of how good Customer Service (as well as bad) has a ripple effect.

Sincerely, James M

Ischell is a great example of how hard our Inflight team works to deliver a “Wow” experience for our passengers!

Trans States Pilots go Above & Beyond to Assist Grieving Family

above & beyond

We received the below note from a passenger, who told us how Captain Cody Moser and Captain Thomas Ryba worked together to get her and her family on a flight to Houston after the unexpected death of her son.  Their act of kindness was a bright spot in what had been a difficult and stressful day for this family.  We are proud of Captain Moser and Captain Ryba for truly going above and beyond to help these passengers.

On Thursday, August 20, 2015, my three daughters and I were scheduled to fly to Houston, TX on United flight 2910E, leaving at 8:40 am.  It was announced the flight would be late leaving due to mechanical maintenance.  After waiting 45 minutes, we boarded and taxied from the gate, and then sat on the tarmac for an hour due to bad weather in Houston.  We taxied back to the gate, deplaned, reclaimed our luggage and waited in the airport.

The ticket agent told us there was another flight leaving at 1:00 pm with four seats available.   She was in the process of taking us off flight UA 2910E and putting us on this 1:00pm flight (issuing boarding passes), when the flight attendant came up to the agent and told her flight UA2910E was re-boarding and would be leaving as soon.

We had to make a decision quickly, and decided to re-board flight UA2910E.  The agent put us back on UA2910E, again issuing new boarding passes and re-checking carry-on luggage.  We again boarded flight UA2910E and taxied out on the tarmac. We stopped because they had no gate for us in Houston.  After waiting 45 minutes, the flight was canceled and we were told we could probably get out the next day.

We were so upset, as we had to get to Houston that day. My 55 year old son had passed away suddenly on Tuesday, August 18th, and the viewing was that evening, with the funeral and burial scheduled for 9:00 am on Friday, August 21st. The flight attendant asked the passengers to let us off first so we could try to get in line for another flight. When we got out of the tunnel, the line had about fifteen people in it and we had to wait our turn. One of my daughters found a Customer Service Rep, who took her to Gate A14, to help her get on another flight. Unbeknownst to us, the pilot from UA2910E, Captain Cody Moser, had contacted the pilot of the plane that was to have left at 10:00, and was finally leaving at 2:00 pm, and told him of our situation.

The pilot of this plane, Captain Thomas Ryba, had already left the gate, but taxied back to the gate to get us.  He got off the plane and came up the tunnel to the waiting area to personally greet us and take us on board.  He also saw to it that my checked luggage was pulled off flight UA 2910E and brought to his plane so that all of our luggage arrived in Houston with us.

Captain Thomas Ryba and Captain Cody Moser, working together, made our emotional and upsetting situation a wonderful story. We would like to thank both of them!  We absolutely understand that this is not something to be taken lightly and that once a plane door is closed it is almost never re-opened. We are also thankful to the passengers on the plane that were delayed by the return to pick us up.

Each time we tell this story (and we’ve told it many times) the first question is always, “Which airline were you flying”… and we say “United Airlines.”

Third Quarter Above & Beyond Winners

job well doneCongratulations to the Third Quarter Above & Beyond Winners!  Thank you to those of you who took the time to nominate your co-workers!  Each winner will receive a $50 Visa gift card, and each person who submitted a winning nomination will receive a $25 Visa gift card. The company gave away $425 of gift cards this quarter!

Corporate/Station: Vernon Bergmann
Nominated by: Debbie Puzniak, Uniform Coordinator
“With the amount of growth, I have been extremely busy trying to get all the classes into the system. Vernon has taken care of the problems that have occurred with online ordering and he never complains or gets upset. He always stops in to check if everything is completed, and if needed he will take care of the issue, no questions asked.”

Inflight: Nadine Buell, DEN Flight Attendant
Nominated by: Bob Lamar, Trans States Pilot
Nadine Buell1
“Our flight was diverted to Colorado Springs, where we ended up sitting on the ramp for four hours due to weather. Nadine stayed on her feet the entire time serving our passengers and doing all she could to ensure they were comfortable and their questions were answered. We had to deplane the passengers that wished to remain in Colorado Springs on the ramp in heavy rain. Nadine was right there at the door getting rained on while doing all she could to ensure passengers walked down the airplane steps safely in the dark. Her exemplary service to our customers turned what would have been a very unpleasant situation to a merely inconvenient sit for our passengers. Those that stayed with us thanked her for all her hard work when they deplaned, as it was easy for all on the aircraft to recognize that she had truly gone above and beyond. After all we’d been through the cabin was completely trashed, but she cleaned it up and flew off with another crew to Santa Fe that night after our seven hour ordeal. That level of dedication to our customers can only come from deep within a person. I’d like to recognize Nadine for her dedication and thank her for all she did for us that night.”

Flight Ops: Ben Forbis, IAD First OfficerBen Forbis2
Nominated by: Lori Tinnon, Crew Scheduling

“First Officer Ben Forbis allowed another pilot that he did not know come to his hotel room in Houston to borrow his tablet. Ben’s rest was interrupted after he had been at the hotel for over an hour and he didn’t have to answer his phone, but he did. He was told that a pilot had left his tablet at a hotel and needed one to depart for his trip out of IAH. When Crew Scheduling called Ben he gave them his room number and said to send the pilot over and he would be happy to give him his tablet. We were able to get him a replacement tablet the next day to IAH. By doing this Ben protected two flights from being cancelled. In this situation I believe First Officer Forbis definitely went above and beyond for our company.”

Maintenance: Zach Miller, Parts CoordinatorZachMiller
Nominated by: Cullen Jarvis, AOG Coordinator

“Zach shows excitement for the job and performs his duty with a smile on his face each night. He gets along with all his coworkers and never gives up on the job. Zach also performs his job even on his days off. He comes in and goes above and beyond to stay and help his coworkers get the job done. I have never seen Zach with a bad performance on this job.”

Team/Crew: Gary Hainsworth and Greg Little, Maintenance Acceptance Nominated by: Katie Wilson, Trans States Inflight Instructor
“I have had the pleasure to work with Gary and Greg throughout the acceptance process for the new aircraft that we are adding to our fleet. They come in on their days off, come in early and stay late to ensure that the new aircraft meets the deadlines. You can really tell the effort that they put into their jobs when you see the final condition of the aircraft. They lead by example and it shows with their whole team that is under them. They also take time to answer any questions I might have and even respond to my emails on their days off. If I am not able to inspect the aircraft before they start working, they check the aircraft for items that I commonly write up and have those items fixed so they can be on schedule. We are very fortunate to have them working for our company and they go above and beyond every day. I appreciate their hard work and dedications to ensure a quality product for our passengers and crew.

The third quarter contest is closed, but we’re currently accepting nominations for the fourth quarter contest. Nominations may be submitted via the link on the main page of the employee website or via the link here on the blog.  If you see someone going above and beyond for their co-workers or our passengers, be sure to let us know.  You could win a $25 gift card just for telling us!

This could be yours!
This could be yours!

Crew Goes the Extra Mile to Save Flight from Cancellation

above & beyond

We received the below note from a DEN station employee, who told us how Captain Ryan Pedrazzini, First Officer Rodrigo Anzola and Flight Attendant Bailey Mayo worked together to save a flight that seemed destined for cancellation.

On August 10, I was assigned to meet flight 3377 from IND at gate B51 in DEN, and work the subsequent turn to RAP. It was a typical evening in Denver, as many flights were delayed due to a thunderstorm.  Flight 3377 was no exception, as it was delayed leaving IND by approximately 90 minutes. When I arrived at the gate around 22:30 to greet the passengers traveling to RAP, I informed them that their departure would be delayed until approximately 23:15.  As expected, 3377 arrived at the gate at 22:58, and all passengers and cargo were unloaded. 

At that time, I met Captain Ryan Pedrazzini, who informed me that there was a maintenance issue that would need to be checked before the aircraft could take off for RAP.  At that time, the amount of time needed for the repair was unknown, but it was clear that the flight crew of Captain Pedrazzini, First Officer Rodrigo Anzola, and flight attendant Bailey Mayo needed to be airborne before 00:18 to avoid timing out.  Based on previous experience, I assumed that the flight would cancel and we would be stranding 43 RAP passengers in Denver overnight.

I was surprised when I arrived at the aircraft to find that First Officer Anzola was already on ramp level doing his walk around and preparing for the flight, even though there was a known maintenance issue and a clear time issue for the crew.  While speaking with Captain Pedrazzini, he informed me that we would be unable to board until maintenance had checked the aircraft.  At this time I was preparing for a cancellation.  Even with a probable cancellation looming, Captain Pedrazzini decided to prepare and fuel the aircraft as if it was going to fly and went to get the flight paperwork.  In the meantime, flight attendant Bailey Mayo made sure that the aircraft would be ready for boarding, when and if the aircraft could fly.

At approximately 23:15 the mechanic arrived on the jetway. He quickly assessed the situation and informed us that it would take at least 30 minutes to do all of the checks necessary.  By this time, Captain Pedrazzini had returned with the flight release, First Officer Anzola had completed his walk around, and the cabin was ready for passengers, thanks to Miss Mayo.  The ground crew and fueler were also on point, the aircraft was fueled, and the bags were ready to be loaded.

After about 20 minutes, the mechanic gave us great news! He had completed running the systems checks, and determined that the aircraft was fit to fly.  We were able to begin boarding the aircraft. Thanks to the readiness of the flight crew and the quick work of your mechanic, we quickly boarded the aircraft and were able to save the flight.  It departed at 23:58, well short of the crew timing out. 

Captain Pedrazzini, First Officer Anzola, and Miss Mayo are an exceptional example of what a flight crew should be.  I have been in similar circumstances many times, and typically the flight crew in question will wait for answers before preparing for the flight, generally resulting in a cancellation and unhappy passengers.  This crew was ready to go, even when they were aware that the flight was likely to be cancelled.  We also have 43 passengers who made it to their destination.  It is great to see that you have a crew like this one working for you.  They represent TSA and United Express exceptionally well, and I am very grateful to have worked with them.

The Trans States Airlines Above & Beyond program recognizes employees who go above and beyond what’s expected of them to provide outstanding service to our passengers.  These three crew members are perfect examples of what it means to go above and beyond, and will be entered in the third quarter Above & Beyond contest in the team category.  Great job!

Second Quarter Winners Announced

above & beyond

Congratulations to the second quarter winners of the Above & Beyond contest!  Each winner will receive a $50 Visa gift card, and each person who submitted a winning nomination will receive a $25 Visa gift card.  The company will give away $525.00 in gift cards this quarter!

Inflight Winner:  Yewande Martins
Nominated by:  Debbie Fowler, Trans States Maintenance department

Recently, I went on a trip to Dulles, Chicago, and LaGuardia to check on the outstation manuals, and had the pleasure of having a very pleasant flight attendant. In watching her, you could tell that she enjoyed her job. Our flight had been delayed from STL-IAD several times, and she made everyone forget about the delays as she made everyone feel great as they boarded. As she gave her safety briefing, she was very thorough, but had fun with the customers. An overhead panel needed fixed, so while the mechanic was working she started singing and asked several passengers to sing with her, and some did. It was a great distraction from the delay. She needs a giant pat on the back for a job well done!

Yewande also received this customer compliment this quarter:

I was pleasantly surprised to see an outstanding dedicated flight attendant. She was fun, entertaining, professional, and really made an impact on my day. She was on her fourth leg of the day and remained committed to her job and passengers. She is an outstanding employee who is definitely an asset to your company.

Flight Ops winner: John Price
Nominated by: Nadine Buell, Inflight

Recently, there was a lady on one of my trips who was traveling alone with an infant. We chatted during the flight, and I learned that they baby’s blanket was crocheted by her great-grandmother and had been passed down. The baby ended up fussing the whole flight, which left the mother flustered and upset. When it was time to deplane, I helped her as much as I could, wished her luck, and sent her on her way. While John and I were crossing seatbelts, he noticed the baby blanket had been left behind. I quickly gave him a description of the passenger, and John ran off the plane and ran halfway down the terminal before catching up with the woman and returning the blanket to her. John came back a sweaty mess, but smiling! Bravo John! I truly enjoy flying with you!

Team/Flight Crew: Captain Derick Nicholas and First Officer Rodrigo Anzola
Nominated by: Yewande Martins, Inflight

On May 27, my crew and I arrived at SGF at 4:15 a.m. for our 5:15 a.m. departure to ORD.  Due to a technical issue, we were unable to board and take off for five hours. Captain Nicholas and First Officer Anzola behaved like no team of pilots I have ever flown with. Captain Nicholas made various announcements directly to the passengers in the gate area, an action that calmed down a group of anxious passengers. About three hours into the flight delay, the crew began a conversation with the passengers letting them know that we were sympathetic to their concerns. The pilots even helped me serve beverages and cookies to the passengers in the gate area. This made the passengers smile and express some positivity. Never have I worked with pilots who worked so diligently to go above and beyond for passengers. Not only did that service set high expectations for the surrounding airlines, but it showed that as a crew we are a team. Kudos to you both!

SOC: Emma Harrison
Nominated by: Sherri Snelling

Emma is consistently going above and beyond in the crew scheduling department. I have received multiple complements on her helpfulness and excellent customer service skills in dealing with crew members and vendors. She has stepped up numerous times in the coming in early and staying late to cover operational challenges and covering open shifts. Most recently, she stayed for over 15 hours due to a supervisor calling in sick and she did not want to leave the new schedulers by themselves. Her commitment to the scheduling department and to the airline makes her an exceptional employee and well deserving of this award.

Maintenance: Thomas Kell
Nominated by: Chris Gage

While Tom was working his regularly scheduled shift, which began on Saturday at 8: 30 p.m., he was faced with an aircraft that has maintenance issues. With the end of his shift quickly approaching at 8:30 a.m., Tom didn’t blink an eye at staying until the job was finished, without even being asked. He did this because he knows that at the moment there are no avionics techs available on Sundays and the aircraft would be down all day. Little did he know that the job would keep him until 4:30 p.m. Then, on top of that, he returned four hours later for his normal shift. Many people would have left when their shift ended, or called in sick the following day, but that’s not Tom.

Corporate/Station Employee: Katie Nagle
Nominated by: Tonya Spicuzza & Kendel Meek

Tonya Spicuzza nomination:

I recently attended recurrent and with all the rain I left my umbrella in the restroom. I mentioned it to Ms. Katie and she sent out an e-mail. To my surprise she called me within a few days telling me she found my umbrella and would hold onto it until I was able to retrieve it. It was the smallest of things to lose, but what a great pleasure to have it back. Katie is a real pleasure to know and work with. Thank you Katie!

Kendel Meek nomination:

Over the last few weeks Katie has truly gone above and beyond in helping to get the new aircraft conformity checks done with the FAA. Katie has been doing this in between teaching recurrent flight attendant classes. She has come in early mornings, late evenings, and on the weekends.

This quarter we’re also doing something a little different.  When the leadership team was reviewing the nominations for this quarter, they decided that there were so many people doing extraordinary things that they all deserved to be recognized, even if they didn’t win.  Please check email or Comply to read the first edition of the Above & Beyond quarterly newsletter, which highlights everyone who was nominated, not just the winners.  We hope you enjoy it!

Pilot John Price Goes Above & Beyond

great job thought bubbleThanks to pilot John Price for going above and beyond to return a special item to a passenger!  We received the below note from Trans States Flight Attendant Nadine Buell, who observed the following on a recent flight:

Recently, there was a lady on one of my trips who was travelling alone with an infant.  We chatted during the flight, and I learned that the baby’s blanket was crocheted by her great-grandmother and had been passed down. The baby ended up fussing the whole flight, which left the mother flustered and upset.

When it was time to deplane, I helped her as much as I could, wished her luck, and sent her on her way. While John and I were crossing seatbelts, he noticed the baby blanket had been left behind.  I quickly gave him a description of the passenger, and John ran off the plane and ran halfway down the terminal before catching up with the woman and returning the blanket to her.  John came back to the plane a sweaty mess, but smiling!

We love it when employees take the time to recognize each other for a job well done!  John was entered in the second quarter Above & Beyond contest and is in the running to win a $50 Visa gift card.  If John wins, Nadine will win a $25 Visa gift card for nominating him!

Second quarter Above & Beyond winners will be announced in the coming weeks!

Superstar flight attendant featured in another company’s employee newsletter

Super star flight attendant Aryen Barr, shown here on his one year anniversary with Trans States!
Superstar flight attendant Aryen Barr, shown here on his one year anniversary with Trans States.

You know you’ve made an impression when you’re featured in another company’s employee newsletter. That’s exactly what happened to Trans States flight attendant Aryen Barr.  The editor of Phelebotomy Today flew with us recently and wrote about Aryen in a company newsletter article highlighting some of his best and worst customer service experiences. After telling readers about a bad experience he’d had with a contractor, the editor then had this to say about Aryen:

Contrast that with the world-class customer service I just received on my return trip from Montreal.  All passengers had boarded United flight 3345 from Washington Dulles to Louisville, Kentucky, myself included. I occupied seat 3A, which qualified as both a window and an aisle seat at the same time in the small, coach-only aircraft with no more than 20 other passengers.

After everyone had found his/her seat, the pilot announced that our departure would be delayed by about 15 minutes.  Moments after the announcement he began distributing cups of water to all the passengers. Personally, I was parched, and really appreciated the effort.  On his way back toward the front he saw my empty glass and offered a refill instead of simply collecting my empty cup.

Once airborne for the quick 1-hour flight, he began the scheduled beverage service. “Water, no ice,” I said. He continued down the cabin recording the other orders. Moments later, he’s distributing the orders. When he sets the paper napkin down on my tray table I noticed the following hand-written scrawled on it:  “Thank you for flying with us, Mr. Ernst. We hope to see you again, your business is greatly appreciated!”

I was shocked. Instead of staring mindlessly at the bulkhead as we taxied down the runway and climbed to our cruising altitude, this young man was personalizing napkins for all his passengers. Unbelievable.  He’s the kind of employee you build a company around. It’s people like this that tip the scales. If United staffed every flight with this caliber of customer service mastery, I’d fly no other.

The Inflight team’s efforts to provide Flyer Friendly service to every passenger on every flight are clearly paying off, and our passengers are noticing.  Way to go, Aryen!

Flight Attendant Yewande Martins Goes Above & Beyond

thank you_blue circle
Thanks to IAD Flight Attendant Yewande Martin for going above and beyond to give our passengers the best possible Inflight service!  We received the below note from Debbie Fowler, Technical Publications Manager at the hangar, regarding a recent experience she had with Yewande on a delayed flight.   

Recently I went on a trip to Dulles, Chicago and LaGuardia to check on the out-station manuals.  I had the pleasure of having a very pleasant flight attendant with the name of Yewande.  In watching her, you could tell she enjoyed her job and she knew it very well. Our flight had been delayed from STL-IAD several times, and she made everyone forget about that as she made each and every person feel great as they boarded.  As she gave the emergency instructions, she was very thorough, but had fun with the customers.  Then an overhead panel needed fixed so while the mechanic was working, she started singing and asked several passengers to sing with her, which some of them actually did.  It was a great distraction from a delay.  Yewande needs a giant pat on the back for a job well done.

Thanks for the training you are doing, as this young lady certainly is a great example of a great Trans States Airlines employee.

We love it when employees take the time to recognize each other for a job well done!  Yewande will be entered in the 2nd Quarter Above & Beyond contest and is in the running to win a $50 Visa gift card.  If Yewande wins, Debbie will win a $25 Visa gift card for nominating her!

There’s only one more week to submit your nominations for the second quarter Above & Beyond contest!  Nominations may be submitted via the link on the employee website or the link here on the blog.  Thanks to those of you who have already taken the time to tell us about the extraordinary things your co-workers do each and every day!

Flight Attendant Patty Roth Goes Above & Beyond

greatjob2Kudos to  Flight Attendant Patty Roth who really went above and beyond when she mailed back a school library book that she found in a seat back pocket. We received nice thank you notes from both the child’s mother and the school librarian!

STL FA Patty Roth

Patty will be entered in the second quarter Above & Beyond contest and is in the running to win a $50 Visa gift card! Way to go, Patty!

Flight Attendant Justin James Goes Above & Beyond

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A big thanks to Justin James for providing excellent customer service during a delay.  Here’s what a customer had to say:

I was the Chief Human Resources Officer of a major law firm for over 30 years and have done extensive traveling. Today I witnessed Justin James doing extraordinary service and was blown away.  JJ took the time to learn everyone’s name and call us by name every time he spoke to us. He kept us informed of a delay and when we had to change planes due to a mechanical problem, he made sure everyone had everything and knew where to go. There was a young boy, maybe 10 or 11, and Justin learned is was his birthday. When we boarded the aircraft JJ bought donuts which he offered the boy for this birthday and then to the other passengers. He was enthusiastic when he explained the emergency procedures and went out of his way to make sure we were taken care of. His attitude and service was outstanding and he is an asset to United.  I just wanted to take a moment to tell you about this exceptional employee.

Justin will be entered in the second quarter Above & Beyond contest and is in the running to win a $50 Visa gift card.  Great job, Justin!

First Quarter Above & Beyond Winners Announced

Congratulations to our First Quarter 2015 Above & Beyond winners!  This was our biggest quarter for Above & Beyond participation to date—we received 51 nominations this quarter, far surpassing nomination totals from all previous quarters.  We are excited that so many of you took the time to tell us about the extraordinary things that your co-workers are doing!

This quarter also marks the first time that we are rewarding those who nominated their co-workers, in addition to the winners.  In the case of multiple nominations for the same individual, we either selected the nomination that did the best job of describing a co-worker’s above and beyond actions (i.e. went into extensive detail about a particular event, described how a co-workers actions exceeded their regular job responsibilities, etc.) or, in the case of multiple nominations that were equally specific, we randomly drew a submission from the eligible nominations.


Corporate/Station Employee:  Rosalind Kirkwood

Nominated by:  Chris Gate, Trans States Maintenance 

Chris told us how Rosalind assisted him with a number of different computer issues at the hangar.  Rosalind was in constant communication with Chris as she worked on his issues, calling periodically to give him updates, as well as checking to make sure that things she had fixed earlier were functioning properly.  She not only fixed all of his issues, but was helpful, informative and polite throughout the process.

Flight Ops:  Michael Burris

Nominated by:  Timothy Wade, Flight Ops

Thanks to Michael’s efforts, the Flight Ops team was trained on the new XR aircraft, meeting and even exceeding targets, in spite of a very tight schedule.  Michael’s above and beyond efforts were critical to the success of the operation.

Inflight: Yewande Martins; 

Nominated by Opal Combs, Inflight

Yewande defused multiple situations on a flight she was working, including a hostile passenger and an ill passenger, while remaining positive and upbeat the entire time.  Despite the less than ideal circumstances, Yewande’s positive attitude and cheerful personality made the flight enjoyable for the passengers.  Opal Combs, who was on the flight, said that she overheard other passengers taking about what an extraordinary flight attendant Yewande was, and praising her personable and caring attitude.  Yewande made the most of a difficult situation, all while representing the company in an outstanding way.

Maintenance:  Jonathan Phillips

Nominated by:  Paul Gorby, PAC Department

Paul told us how Johnathan, a night shift Parts Clerk, excels at his job and consistently displays a commitment to getting our mechanics the parts they need.  Paul remarked, “When TSA planes are AOG out of St. Louis, John makes it a point to come to senior mechanics to make sure out-stations get not just the right part, but all the parts they need to get our aircraft flying.”  Actions such as this are key to getting our aircraft back online as quickly as possible and are essential to the overall performance of the airline.

Team/Flight Crew:  John Theodor & Bakula Patel, Corporate Travel Department

Nominated by:  Meghan Solan, Recruiting/Reception

Confusion with new corporate travel email addresses combined with computer issues accumulated over 700 emails for John and Bakula to get through.  The two of them tackled the backlog as a team, while still working with new hire classes and processing company travel requests.  John and Bakula even worked from home after hours and came in on weekends to get caught up.

Each winner will receive a $50 Visa gift card, and the person who nominated will receive a $25 Visa gift card.  We will be giving away $500 worth of gift cards this quarter!

This could be yours!

In addition to the winners, we received many outstanding nominations this quarter.  Please join me in also congratulating all of the nominees for their exceptional service.  I am proud to work with such a hardworking and talented workforce.  Keep up the good work!

And finally, please remember that nominations for the second Quarter Above & Beyond contest will be accepted until June 30th.  You can submit your nominations online via the link on the employee website or via the link on the employee blog.  Please take the time to let us know whenever you see one of your co-workers providing above and beyond service to our passengers or to their co-workers!

And the 2014 Employee of the Year is…..flight attendant Justin James!

Child & Justin James

Earlier today on the employee call, COO Fred Oxley announced that the leadership team had selected flight attendant Justin James as the 2014 Employee of the Year.  Way to go, Justin!

Justin was selected for this award due to the overwhelming amount of passenger feedback we received from customers in 2014 regarding his outstanding service. Over the course of the year, scarcely a month went by during which we did not receive multiple letters from passengers detailing their extraordinary experiences with Justin. Justin repeatedly impressed our passengers by addressing them by name during the beverage service and individually thanking them for flying Trans States. Several customers stated that the level of Inflight service they received from Justin they had only previously received when flying first class on mainline carriers.

Here’s a sampling of just a few of the customer comments we received regarding Justin during 2014:

“He used our names several times. It made me feel important and valued.”

“He greet­ed me by name during beverage service, shook my hand, and thanked me for being a Premier Gold and UA customer. Thought this was fantastic.”

“He is a treasure to your organization. Perhaps you can use him to coach others in what extraordinary service looks and feels like!”

We are proud that Justin is a member of our team and of the exemplary way in which he represents Trans States to our customers and mainline partners. As a token of our appreciation for his above and beyond service in 2014, Justin will receive a $500 Visa gift card.

Here’s to another great year, Justin!

Flight Attendant Anita Dorest Goes Above & Beyond

greatjob2A big thanks to Anita Dorest for providing great customer service during a delay. Here is what a customer had to say:

Yesterday I was on flight 3359 from DC to Montreal. The weather conditions were poor and we were delayed 4.5 hours. Anita Dorest, was our flight attendant on this small regional plane and I wanted to commend her on how pleasant, helpful, thoughtful and encouraging she was to everyone on board. She never gave any indication of frustration and kept the mood light. She showed great empathy towards the passengers even though she would not be making it home that night to St. Louis. I have never had a flight attendant be that attentive and positive before and just wanted to pass that along. I will also say the same for the pilot and co-pilot who kept us very up to date and showed great empathy. We did make it to Montreal that night and I believe in part to the whole crew being on our side.  I just wanted to pass that along.

Anita will be entered in the 1st quarter Above & Beyond contest and is in the running to win a $50 Visa gift card. Great job, Anita!

Fourth Quarter 2015 Above & Beyond Winners



Congratulations to our Fourth Quarter 2015 Above & Beyond winners!

Flight Ops: First Officer Patrick Rhatigan
Patrick was nominated by a Trans States Captain who told us that in his 16 years at the company, Patrick is one of the finest First Officers he has ever flown with. He told us that Patrick’s handling of the aircraft in all phases of flight is outstanding, and that his pre-flights are thorough and prompt. Additionally, Patrick proactively has radio frequencies and other information written down in advance before they are needed. Outside of the operational sphere, Patrick represents the company well, and is cheerful and helpful with passengers and crew members alike.

Inflight: Stephanie Williams
We received an e-mail from a customer who told us about an amazing experience his family had with Stephanie. Over Thanksgiving weekend, the customer’s daughter left her favorite plush toy in the gate area of Dulles prior to boarding. Stephanie took the customer’s contact info and promised that she would look for it. When Stephanie returned to Dulles, she made a special trip back to the gate area and found the lost toy. She texted a picture of it to the child’s father to let him know that she had found it, and then mailed the toy back to the child. The child’s father told us that words could not describe his daughter’s joy and excitement upon receiving in the mail the toy she thought she had lost at the airport.

Maintenance: Jason Sutfin
A Trans States employee told us how Jason noticed from the Line Maintenance room that a departing aircraft’s com door was open. He ran across the ramp to close the door, preventing a return to gate and possible aircraft damage. Jason’s action’s prevented a delay and potential costly repairs. Way to go, Jason!

Corporate/Station Employee: Southeast Regional Manager Dawn Hill
Dawn was nominated by a Trans States employee who told us how Dawn went out of her way to escort him all over Dulles while he waited for his SIDA badge to be processed. Dawn also goes out of her way to meet new crew members, frequently helps employees with paperwork and parking applications, works tirelessly to troubleshoot operational issues that come up, and put on a great Employee Appreciation Week for our IAD employees.

SOC: Lori Tinnon
Lori was nominated by a Trans States reserve flight attendant who said that Lori goes out of her way to make reasonable show times for crew members. This flight attendant told us about a particular time when Lori called her to pick up a trip and then swapped her schedule with another crew member so that she wouldn’t have to rush to the flight when she arrived at the airport This flight attendant told us that crew members are very appreciative of Lori’s concerns for their needs.

Team/Flight Crew: Bryan Kalwei and Eric Ratliff, Maintenance
Bryan and Eric were scheduled to help with an aircraft’s lease end by flying it to Indiana on a Friday morning and performing two boroscopes procedures. The aircraft had mechanical issues and they both stayed late on Friday trying to fix it. The next day, they returned to work early to fix the aircraft and flew with it to Indiana. Due to the late arrival time, they could not finish work on the aircraft and continued working the next day to ensure the lease was closed. Bryan and Eric showed great initiative and went out of their way to assist the company in returning this aircraft to the lessor.


Each winner will receive a $50 Visa gift card and will be entered in the Employee of the Year contest. The Employee of the Year will receive a $500 Visa gift card!

Don’t forget that nominations for the 2015 1st Quarter Above & Beyond contest will be accepted until May 30th. You can submit your nominations online via the link on TRANSmissions or via the link on the employee website. Please take the time to let us know whenever you see one of your co-workers providing above and beyond service to our passengers or to their co-workers.