This Time It’s for Horizon Airlines
A buddy of mine from the ramp when I worked for Piedmont at American Airlines once told me the airline industry’s addictive. We’d both just been hired and were going through orientation. The only difference was he’d already been in the industry before, whereas I was brand new. This being my first job since getting out of the Air Force, I was just excited that my efforts paid off.
And boy did they.
When I first applied for the position at Piedmont, I hadn’t really explored the travel benefits. I’d heard about people in the industry flying around the world for free before, but I just thought it was sort of a too-good-to-be-true sort of deal. It was only when I received the official offer and went on to the onboarding process that I began to realize what was in store for me. The recruiters and onboarding members went on and on about the travel benefits we receive as employees as well as the family members eligible. They told colorful stories of different adventures they’d gone on by flying standby. I was just in complete awe.
And Thus Marked the Beginning of My Love for The Industry
Once I was out of training and officially on the clock, I started out with a simple, short trip to San Francisco. I was with an ex of three years, and she was included in the benefits as a domestic partner. We chose San Francisco because 1) I’m a die-hard 49er fan 2) I’d been there once before and I’d told her how beautiful it was there 3) It’s a common standby flight from Phoenix that often as enough guaranteed seats for us to make it back in time for our jobs.
It was crazy to think I was there for free. Just hours ago we were at Sky Harbor sipping on margaritas. Next thing we know we’re at the famous Pier 40 eating clam chowder from a bread bowl and sipping on margaritas. What was even crazier was that we were initially planning on traveling to Hawaii. Unaware of how the system worked at that time, it took a coworker of mine at the gate to show me that I may not make it back in time for work. We decided to let those seats go and instead chose San Franciso. But we were far from disappointed, and damn if it wasn’t an amazing experience.
About six months into working at Piedmont, a combination of school, another job, and maintaining a struggling relationship began to consume a considerable amount of my time and energy. Since our trip to San Francisco, we’d only been to Santa Barbara, CA, San Diego, and Ogden, UT. The physicality of the ramp job in that scorching Arizona heat had taken its toll on me physically and mentally. To be honest, I was so tired and stressed out from everything, I’d rather have been home. A few more trips to San Francisco later, the ex and I had decided we were long overdue for something more exciting. Her birthday was coming up in about a month, so I decided to really do some planning and put these benefits to good use. Before you know it, we’re poolside at a local hotel on Grand Cayman Island with a stunning view of the infinite turquoise ocean, sipping on margaritas.
My Separation from the Airline Industry Was Only Brief
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen financial circumstances, I forced to choose between the amazing world the airline industry has to offer or the job that paid the bills. On August 2016 I put in my two weeks notice at Piedmont. Believe me when I say it was one of the toughest decisions I had to make in life. Here I was blessed with a golden second opportunity to take advantage of traveling cheaply (the first being the Air Force) and I didn’t even do that. I allowed my toxic relationship, school, and work to consume my time and energy.
I ended up moving on from that security job to bigger and better things, but neither filled that void like the airline industry. The excitement of seeing giddy passengers every day, knowing they must be on their way home or on vacation. The rewarding feeling of knowing you damn near did the impossible physically to load up that quick turn flight and send it on its way on time. Knowing that through all of that hard work and effort, I’ll be in another state or another country when the weekend rolls around sipping margaritas.
I’m proud to say I am now part of the Horizon Air Lines family, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines. After over a year out of the industry, I’ve been given a third chance, and dammit the third time is always a charm. I’m more confident than ever that because of the amazing stories I’ll be able to tell from adventures, and the people I’ll connect with along the way, including the new veterans and clients I’ll now have more access to, thus completing a piece to the larger goal of expanding my health coaching services, that I’m on the right path.
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