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!