Year in Review – Our Favorite Posts from 2016

We had a busy 2016!  We introduced you to some one-of-a-kind people and highlighted some extraordinary happenings within our company.  Let’s take a look back to some of our favorite posts from TRANSmissions this past year.

Preparing for Your First Part 121 Ground School – An Instructor’s Perspective

In what was far and away our most read and shared blog entry of the year, Trans States Airlines Flight Instruction Manager Paul Epperson shares his tips and advice for what to expect and how to prepare for the adjustment into 121 ground school.

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Trans States Provides Simulated Flight Experience for Children with Autism

Some of our Raleigh-based crew members had the opportunity to be a part of a very special event co-sponsored by American Airlines and the Autism Society of North Carolina.  The event simulated the airport experience for children with autism so that they would know what to expect the first time they boarded a commercial flight.  The children also had the opportunity to board a Trans States Embraer 145, and were shown exactly what would happen during the first 20 minutes of a real flight.

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Shriners Debut Aviation-Themed Parade Float, With Help of Trans States Employee

Trans States’ Sam Curless helped the St. Louis Shriners Air Patrol when they were in dire need of a new parade float. Through his connections, Sam was able to help organize a build of a new float, made out of an Embraer 145 fuselage. The float made its debut at the St. Louis Thanksgiving Day Parade to an excited crowd, and a group of Shriners kids who got to ride it for the first time!

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Trans States VP of Safety Marks 70th Birthday by Flying 70th Aircraft Type

Trans States Airlines Vice President of Safety Craig Tompkins recently accomplished a pretty lofty goal that he’d set for himself in 2014 – to fly 70 different aircraft before his 70th birthday.  Craig reached his milestone right on time, flying aircraft type #70, a Cessna 170 on floats, just before his 70th birthday in October.

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Former Marine Turned Aircraft Mechanic and College Student: Meet Brandi Rector

Before becoming a aircraft mechanic for Trans States Airlines, Brandi Rector spent six years in the United States Marine Corps as a helicopter aerial gunner and mechanic.  Now she dedicates her time to ensuring that our aircraft operate safely and efficiently, all while attending full-time classes at Saint Louis University.

Brandi Rector

We’ll be back in 2017 with more posts dedicated to the extraordinary individuals who call Trans States home.  Happy New Year!

 

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:

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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!

Sincerely,

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!

 

 

Unique Internship Provides Direct Path to Trans States Flight Deck

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If you’re an aspiring commercial pilot looking for a high-quality internship that will give you a jump start on your career, look no further than the Trans States Airlines Aviators program.  This program identifies promising pilots still in the early stages of flight training, and mentors them through the process of becoming a Trans States pilot.

Program participants are paired with a current Trans States Airlines line pilot, who provides professional guidance and advice to their mentees not only while they’re in flight training, but up until the point that they become Trans States Airlines First Officers.

“It’s so important for young pilots who want to fly commercially to have mentors who are commercial pilots,” said Keith Stamper, Director of Flight Operations.  “Our pilots have been in these students’ shoes before, and they know what it takes to make the jump from being a student pilot to being a commercial airline pilot.”

During their internship, students will also have a chance to visit corporate headquarters in St. Louis, where they will meet the Flight Ops management team, sit in on systems training classes, and get behind-the-scenes tours of Systems Operations Control and our Maintenance Hangar. Program participants also have the opportunity to participate in the Trans States Airlines Command Leadership course, which is typically only offered to Trans States Airlines Command Pilots.

Additional benefits of the Aviators program include $10,000 in tuition reimbursement, as well as limited pass travel  on United Airlines and American Airlines.  Aviators also act as field recruiters and can earn  $1,500 for each pilot that they refer to Trans States who is hired and completes training (funds are banked until a student becomes a Trans States Airlines employee).

Once students earn the requisite hours and officially become Trans States Airlines First Officers, they’ll receive their tuition reimbursement payment, in addition to any  referral bonuses banked during their time as an aviator.

“We’re excited to be able to provide such a dynamic, hands-on training program for future pilots,”said Trans States Airlines Chief Operating Officer, Fred Oxley.  “This program provides immersive,real-world experience that will provide value to students while in school and when they become line pilots.”
Fall enrollment for the 2016 Aviators Program is taking place now!  Click here to learn more and apply online.

 

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

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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.

The Trans States Airlines Guide to Crew Bases

Trying to decide which airline you want to work for?  One of the most important factors to US News Best Placesconsider is crew base location.  The location of your crew base can drastically affect your quality of life, so you want to be sure that you have affordable options.  Cost of living is a key factor to consider, as is the availability of good public transportation and budget-friendly entertainment.

Luckily, with bases in Denver, Raleigh-Durham, Washington D.C., St. Louis, and Chicago, our employees have some great options.  In fact, all five of our crew bases were recently included in the 2016 US News and World Report “Best 100 Places to Live” rankings, with three of them making it to the top 10.  Here are a few of our favorite things about each of our domiciles:

Denver

Denver, CO
Denver, CO

Claiming the coveted top spot on the US News list is Denver, Colorado.  The Mile High City is perfect for any outdoorsy-type, but offers something for everyone.  Fitness and nature enthusiasts are within an hour of skiing and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains, and for more relaxed outings, Denver boasts over 5,000 acres of parks, trails, golf courses, and playgrounds. The city is also home to a flourishing arts scene and boasts approximately 100 breweries.

One of the best ways to explore Denver is by bike. The bike-sharing company, B-Cycle, provides 700 bikes for the city’s more than 85 miles of paved pathways.  The above-ground tramway, RTD light rail, is also a convenient and economical way to get around.

Raleigh-Durham

Raleigh-Durham, NC
Raleigh-Durham, NC

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina also ranks high on the US News list, coming in at number four.  Raleigh’s diverse population enjoys mild average seasonal temperatures, low property taxes, and a cost-of-living slightly lower than the national average.

North Carolina is paradise for sports fans, with professional football, basketball, and hockey teams, as well as a huge NASCAR presence. Additionally, North Carolina is home to the famed Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels collegiate programs.

With over two hundred parks, a children’s museum, and over one hundred and fifty miles of greenway, Raleigh provides plenty to do outside.  And getting around is a breeze, especially in the downtown area, where most people prefer to walk. There are plenty of commuter options however, including the R-Line bus system and an expanding system of both commuter rail and bike-friendly infrastructure.

Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.

Making it to the number eight spot on the US News list is our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Young, fun and vibrant are just a few of the words used to describe this historically and politically significant city.  From a plethora of cultural attractions to a vibrant nightlife, D.C. has it all.

Museums and theaters abound, and the city is home of a seeming endless number of restaurants, nightclubs and concert venues. Sports fans will feel right at home in D.C., as the region is home to professional football, basketball, baseball and hockey teams.

D.C. traffic is notorious, but public transportation is available for those who prefer not to drive, thanks to trains and buses provided by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.  For those who want to combine exercise and sightseeing, the best way to see the city is by bike.  Be sure to check out Capital Bike Share, which rents out bikes in the metro area for periods ranging from a day to a year.

St. Louis

St. Louis, MO
St. Louis, MO

Affordable entertainment options combined with a cost of living that’s well below the national average, make St. Louis a fun and economical domicile.

St. Louis is a sports town, and the region’s 2.8 million residents are rabid supporters of the city’s two professional sports teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues. St. Louis offers plenty to keep live music and theater fans busy, including the renowned Fox Theatre and Peabody Opera House.  Plus, the city’s world-class zoo, science center and art museum all offer free admission.

Although St. Louis is primarily a driving town, there are other affordable commuter options, including bus and light rail systems offered by Metro Transit, as well as increasing options for bicyclists.

Chicago

Chicago, IL
Chicago, IL

Chicago is home to an abundance of well-known attractions and events. Fans of sports and music will find plenty to do, especially during the warmer months.  Aviation enthusiasts won’t want to miss the annual Air and Water Show held on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Chicago also offers a smorgasbord of restaurants and food options, including not to be missed Chicago-style pizza.  Getting around is a breeze in Chicago, thanks to a multitude of public transportation options. The Chicago Transit Authority’s “L” trains and buses, the Metra rail system, taxis, Uber, and even bicycle rental company Divvy make sure that commuters don’t have to walk or sit in traffic if they don’t want to.

Did we neglect to include one of your favorite attractions?  Let us know in the comments!

A “Shocking” Optical Illusion…

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Airline employees are generally not fans of severe weather, given the inevitable operational consequences. But even airline employees can appreciate the incredible photo ops that severe weather can bring!  Materials Clerk Sierra McCoy snapped this photo at our maintenance hangar during a thunderstorm that rolled through St. Louis Tuesday. It may look like the lightning bolt struck one of our planes, but it appears that even Mother Nature loves to trick others with optical illusions!

Flight Attendant “Just doing her job” Impresses Passenger

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Superstar Flight Attendant Yewande Martins

We know that we have the best crews in the business, and we love to hear our passengers sing their praises.  We received the below note from a passenger who told us how impressed she was by the service that Flight Attendant Yewande Martins provided on a recent flight.

“I am sure you get a million emails a day, but this is one you should read!  I travel quite frequently, and I recently had one of the best inflight experiences ever.  My flight from Houston to Jacksonville could not have been better, and that was 100% due to Yewande Martins.

Between comforting the never-flown-before passengers (seated adjacent to me), helping children with unexpected needs, or assisting frequent flyers (like me), she was amazing.

I know you can’t clone her, but if you could, I’m certain that I, and everyone else, would fly you. It is people like Yewande that make you and United Airlines successful. Please ensure she receives all the proper attention and accolades from what she promises me was “just doing her job.”  I hope I had the honor and privilege of flying with her again.”

Way to go, Yewande!

Pilot Recruiters Make Invaluable Connections at Annual Women in Aviation Conference

WIA 2016

The 27th Annual Women in Aviation International conference wrapped up last week, and we’re proud to have been a part of it!  Nearly 5,000 people participated in the three day event, which was held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.  Women in Aviation, International is a not-for-profit focused on encouraging women and girls to pursue careers in aviation, and its members include representatives from all areas of the aerospace industry, including astronauts, pilots, aircraft maintenance technicians, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, airport managers and more.

The annual conference has long been considered one of aviation’s premiere professional development and networking events, and this year’s event was no exception.  Keynote speakers included astronauts Dr. Rhea Seddon and Robert “Hoot” Gibson; Jessica Cox, the world’s first certified armless pilot; Deborah Lee Hames, the 23rd Secretary of the U.S. Air Force; and Doreen Welsh, one of the flight attendants on U.S. Airways Flight 1549 (the “Miracle on the Hudson”).  The conference also included seminars and workshops on a wide variety of aviation-related topics, as well as a job fair that gave attendees the opportunity  interview with airline recruiters.

Our pilot recruiting team was on-site for the entire duration of the job fair, conducting interviews and meeting with both current and aspiring commercial pilots.  “This conference has truly become one of the year’s not-to-be-missed recruiting events, as you get to meet hundreds of candidates face to face,” said pilot recruiter Zenia Bharucha.  “It’s so important to build relationships with the next generation of aviators, and there’s nothing more exciting than watching these young pilots take their first steps towards fulfilling their dreams of flying for a commercial airline.”

Hundreds of prospective pilots were eager to drop off their resumes with our recruiters, which didn’t surprise Director of Recruitment Deb Smith.  “We have a great story to tell.  We’re one of the fastest growing regional airlines in the industry, and we offer top-tier pay, fast Captain upgrades and direct access to the left seat for qualified pilots.  Candidates recognize what we have to offer and are excited about the prospect of flying for us!”

The pilot recruiting team will be on the road all spring, visiting flight schools and collegiate aviation programs, as well as hosting hiring events all over the country.  For a complete list of events, or to schedule an interview, please click here.

And the Fourth Quarter Above & Beyond Winners are…

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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 “Turned Frustrating Experience into a Pleasant One”

We received this nice note from a passenger regarding Flight Attendant Brianna Drum. Here’s what he had to say after a recent flight:

“I was on American Airlines flight # 4116 on December 17 from New York LaGuardia to Greensboro operated by your company.  The flight was delayed a few times for various reasons, which normally would have been very frustrating.  The flight attendant, Brianna Drum, was very polite and understanding with everyone, despite some frustrations.

I had over 90 flights in 2015 and she was by far the best flight attendant of any of them.  I honestly don’t know of a specific thing that she did to make a difference, but it is kind of like having two different servers at a restaurant, they both take your order and bring your food, but one of them makes the whole experience better.  She somehow turned a frustrating situation into a pleasant one.”

Brianna personifies Trans States Airlines’ commitment to providing our customers with an exceptional passenger experience.  Regardless of the situation, our employees can be counted on to do their very best for our customers.  Service like Brianna’s is what it’s all about.

Crew Gets a Little Extra Help on Christmas Eve

Skippy the Elf
Skippy the Elf, greeting passengers and helping with pre-flight checks.

As the official airline of the North Pole, Trans States is always delighted to help Santa out over the holidays.  We had a guest on the flight deck this Christmas Eve, when Skippy the Elf caught a ride with Captain Jason Newell and First Officer Chad Memmel.  Skippy made himself comfortable on the instrument panel so that he could wish our passengers a Merry Christmas as they were boarding and deplaning.

Bloomington Station Wins Prestigious Award

Central Illinois Regional Airport award pic

Congratulations to our Bloomington, IL station for winning the prestigious “Customer Cup” customer service award from American Airlines!  This quarterly award recognizes stations for improving the customer experience in areas including gate interactions, the boarding process, on board interactions, delays, and baggage handling.

The Bloomington team came in #1 ahead of all other American stations at airports of comparable size.  Way to go!

Recruiting Offers a Little Something Special for Pilots who Start Class in December

shutterstock_64394386.jpgNo one wants to start a new job over the holidays. That’s why Recruiting is offering a little something extra to pilots who start class in December.  Not only are they guaranteed December 24-27 off, but we’ll also fly them home on December 23 and back to training on December 27 on our dime.  It’s just our way of saying thanks for starting a new job in December.

To be eligible for this special offer, you must start class on either December 1 or 14. If you’ve been thinking about applying, but were waiting until after the holidays, now is the perfect time to get in touch with a recruiter!   Apply online at airineapps.com or touch base with a pilot recruiter at pilothiring@transstates.net.

Leadership Team Hits the Road for Town Hall Meetings

Mechanics at the hangar in St. Louis hear a company update from COO Fred Oxley
Mechanics at the hangar in St. Louis gather to hear a company update from COO Fred Oxley

Last week the leadership team wrapped up its bi-annual town hall meetings with stops at crew bases in DEN, IAD, and ORD, as well as the corporate headquarters in STL.  Along with the monthly employee call, the leadership team relies on these visits as a way to stay connected with a far-flung employee group that is always on the move.  “I look forward to our town hall meetings, as they give me the opportunity to meet one-on-one with employees and address any questions or concerns they may have,” said Fred Oxley, COO of Trans States Airlines.  “Plus, employees invariably have great suggestions as to how we can improve the operation.  Some of the best suggestions I’ve ever received have been from employees during these visits.”

Accompanying Fred at the IAD, ORD and DEN meetings were the Directors of Maintenance, Flight Ops and Inflight, who each provided a department-specific update to the employees that they met with.  Trans States Airlines President Rick Leach joined the team for the St. Louis portion of the trip and spoke to employees at the corporate headquarters about a number of topics, including the first flight of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), which had taken place just days before.  As the domestic launch customer for the MRJ, Trans States employees have closely followed its progress and had a number of questions for Rick.

The next round of town hall meetings will be in the spring on 2016–hopefully our new crew base in Raleigh-Durham (RDU) will be open by then!

Mitsubishi Regional Jet Completes First Flight

The highly anticipated first flight of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) went off without a hitch earlier this week in Japan.  The flight, which was approximately an hour and a half in duration, reached speeds of up to 174 miles an hour and altitudes of up to 15,000 feet.  Trans States Holdings, the parent company of Trans States Airlines, is the domestic launch customer for the MRJ, with 50 firm orders and another 50 on option.  Of the 50 firm orders, Trans States Airlines is guaranteed to receive 20 of them, with the first expected to enter revenue service in 2017.

The MRJ comes in two versions–one that seats 70 passengers and one that seats 90.  At this time, it is not certain which model Trans States will fly.  Some of the notable features of the MRJ include increased fuel-efficiency, lower noise levels and a spacious interior layout that maximizes passenger customers.  Please click HERE for the latest developments on the MRJ project.  We’re looking forward to introducing this beautiful aircraft to our fleet!