Year Five. Month One. #SEA

You guys, I have to be completely honest.

I've been feeling a little lost as of late.

Ever since I transitioned from my little regional airline to big mainline dream airline, I've been struggling with a real sense of disconnect.

My regional days were all of fourteen small town layovers, a few dozen good folks in my domicile, two aircraft types and a million and a half adventures and smiles and memories.

Mainline has been jaw-dropping tropical layovers, big city jet-setting, wonderful benefits and almost ten thousand crewmembers system-wide who come in and out of pairings and turns and trips.

I often barely get a chance to catch a name. I rarely hear their stories.

It's overwhelming. It's isolating.

I feel like the kid who graduates high school amongst her best friends and moves on to a big college town where no one knows her favorite pizza toppings or how she takes her coffee or what she has in her heart for her life goals.

How do I feel connected in a training class of ninety? How do I relate to others in a base of twenty-five hundred flight attendants? How do I find a friend in a company of tens of thousands of people?

I know I haven't admitted it here yet, but it's been tough. Really tough.

This week, I switched around my schedule. I chose redeye turns and all-nighter flights, picking the First Class position to work on a midnight flight to Anchorage. It seemed like a good route for some reflection.

After the First Class service was over and all sixteen of my guests drifted off to dreamland, I dimmed the cabin lights and pulled the tiny galley curtain shut. Unable to focus on the book I had brought, I decided to look out the window and gasped audibly at what I saw.

Aurora Borealis, shimmering emerald and royal purple, dancing wildly through the arctic sky. Electric green curtains fluttered by silently. Dewdrops of amethyst appeared, dipping like slim fingers through the inky blackness. Above the Northern Lights, the stars carried on their selfless duties, below, the crescent moon hung modestly.

It's impossible to feel alone when you look up at the Universe.

And I started to think about things. About the places I've been in this job. And the faces I've met.

You know, maybe I have learned a few names.

Maybe I have heard a few stories.

Perhaps I've even made a friend or two, and didn't realize it.

  • Puerto Vallerta, one year ago. I pick up a trip with a senior crew, expecting to be eaten alive. I end up sharing a giant margarita with the company's number one flight attendant who had just celebrated fifty years of service. The whole crew takes me out for tacos and dancing and little glasses of mezcal. Thank you, Judy, Mary and Carolyn, for one of the funnest layovers of my life.
  • Fairbanks, my first winter. A long layover turns into multiple crews attending "ladies night" at one of the seediest bars in town. After jello shots and a late night Taco Bell run, we end up discussing politics and life and love. Fairbanks forever, Andriene and Jenna and Candance.
  • San Francisco on a hot day, and we needed Mexican Food. Rodger and Jacqueline accompany me to downtown Burlingame where we dish about life over nachos and tacos and tequila. Next time I see these two, there are hugs and smiles.
  • Honolulu, and it's my first time here. Flight attendant Bianca insists on showing me her old stomping grounds, and it's just the perfect day. We get amazing noodles, talk about life and then go lay on the famous sand beach of Waikiki.
  • Tampa had always seemed like a humid layover in a hotel next to a strip mall. Turns out I didn't have the right crew with me those times. With Marikaye and Dorsey and Barb, we rent a car and explore Ybor, the Old Town of Tampa. There's beer and live music and strolling through a flea market where a fortune teller offers advice.
  • St. Louis with my ladies - Jackie, Tylre and Carrie and lunch by the Arch. 
  • New York City, June of last year. I'm still on reserve and with a hodgepodge crew but flight attendant Ashley agrees to go take on the city. We end up getting our nails done at a retro salon and bar, sipping fancy cocktails and finding a trendy shop that sells cookie dough in an ice cream cone.

  • The Milk Run with Martin and Shari and their life-saving smiles.
  • That one Portland-Anchorage all-nighter with Alejandro, Danica and Jenna. You know, the one with the medical emergency. And the donuts.
  • Kauai with the one and only Lauren. We get coffee, meet the locals, hitchhike to a surfing beach, drink out of a coconut, walk and talk forever and dream big. This is what the best friendships are made of.
  • Maui, with Scott and Kari, both former co-workers from sister company Horizon. We drink beers and watch the sunset, we talk aviation and homes and family. We talk about the regional days, and how we all miss it a little. Scott mentions that he really has found a family here. He says it will happen for you, don't you worry.

I feel like maybe, it already has happened, and I didn't even notice.

Anytime I run into Candance, I know we'll end up laughing way too hard. 

Bianca ran into me in the airport the other day. She hugged me and asked how our new house was working out.

I saw Scott less than a week ago. He smiled and said we needed another Maui layover again soon.

Alaska Air has become my family. Skywest still is my family. This aviation thing is bigger than just a company and a brand and an aircraft type. This is about my Delta friends and my corporate aviation friends and my planespotting friends.

This is all of us, united by wings, supporting each other through the good, the bad and the turbulent.

Back in the first class galley of the 737-700 going up to Anchorage, I heard the announcement that we would be starting our descent shortly. We readied the cabin, buckled up and landed smoothly into Ted Stevens International Airport.

After we finished saying our goodbyes to our sleepy guests, I checked my company e-mail.

My heart sank.

"It is with great sadness to announce the death of First Officer Scott ----, who passed away while on a layover in Hawaii.  He was thirty six years old."

Every person you meet has the potential to be a genuine friend. Every conversation could be meaningful, if you just open up your heart to it.

Don't think that just because you're a little fish in a big pond that no one can remember your face or your name or how you take your coffee.

I've been looking backwards for the last year when I should be looking all around me. Looking up. At this big 'ol Universe where I'm not alone at all.

Realize that you do have people around you who care about you.

Take a moment and listen to their stories.

Tell them that you are a friend.

Because you don't know how many more days you will have with your friends, until they're taken from you all too soon.


  1. Mainline Airline will surely provide you with the exposure you might had never had in the regional airline. Just enjoy the opportunity life has given you, not all of us are given opportunities by life.

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