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Miles flown for stories
2014: 269,302
2013: 330,818

Some Holiday Travel Tips to Make Life Happier

e-greeting card received from ANA. CLICK FOR LARGER.

It’s the time of year airline holiday greetings spread across the globe. – Image: All Nippon Airways

We are in the thick of the holiday travel season right now, and with Christmas fast approaching it is going to get even busier.  Traveling at this time of year can be a real challenge.  Weather, crowds, high prices, and even-higher load factors can make travel a headache.

When you add delays, the stress of getting away for a vacation, or travel to see family (which can be either cherished or dreaded), things can get rough.  We at Airline Reporter wanted to share some of our favorite tips and tips from readers who travel quite often. Continue reading Some Holiday Travel Tips to Make Life Happier

HAPPY THANKSGIVING: Pilgrim Airlines Style

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and safe travels. I couldn’t help but use this photo.

Photo by Bob Garrard Info: N141PM Pilgrim Airlines
Fokker F-27-100 Friendship (cn 10114) A very early Friendship delivered in April, 1959 to Trans Australia Airlines as VH-TFD, Other regns carried include N1036P, and OB-1644. Seen departing DCA in June, 1983.

Bob’s other Pilgrim Airlines pics: Fokker F-28 and De Havilland Canada DHC-6-100 Twin Otter

A Salute to Veterans from Alaska Airlines

Special sign on the outside of Alaska Airline's first Boeing 737-900ER. Image from Alaska.

Special sign on the outside of Alaska Airline’s first Boeing 737-900ER. Image from Alaska.

For my “real” job I am a Career Counselor at a local state university. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is helping veterans transition from the military and college life to the working world. In December I will be presenting at a conference on hiring veterans and highlighting companies that are doing some pretty cool things with veterans. One of those companies is Alaska Airlines (I love when my world’s collide). To celebrate Veteran’s Day this year, Alaska has shared a story, that I wanted to repeat on the blog. To all of those who have served, are serving or are planning to serve — I thank you and hope to be able to assist you in your future career aspirations. Here is Alaska’s story:

In the days leading up to Veteran’s Day, Horizon Air Captain Lawrence Pavlinovic has a number of people to thank, gratitude to express and wisdom to pass along to his two sons. Born to immigrant parents, Pavlinovic not only understands the concept of freedom, he fights for it, and works for a company that generously supports his efforts.

Pavlinovic has worked as a pilot for Horizon Air since 1998, and since that time has experienced several military deployments lasting from one to two years. Each time he’s returned to Horizon, his job was waiting for him.

“It’s hard to describe how that feels, to know that your job will be there when you return from active duty,” says Pavlinovic, who is a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserves, working in logistics and specializing as a linguist. “I can serve my country without worrying whether I will have to look for a job when I return home. When you serve in a hostile region, you need to be very focused on your work, and not whether your employer back home may hire somebody else for your job.”

BONUS: More on Alaska Airlines, veterans and fallen soldiers

Greg Smith, Alaska Airlines project manager with the Project Management Office, recently returned from three weeks of military training. He is grateful that his colleagues filled in while he was away, and thankful to a company that supports his efforts by keeping his job open for him. During his last deployment to Afghanistan, Smith, who worked for Verizon Communications at the time, returned stateside to discover his job was gone when the telecommunications giant sold off certain segments of the company. “My job was basically eliminated,” says Smith, an Army Reserves major working in Afghanistan as a logistician. “It’s very stressful when that happens, and it happens more often than you know.”

Under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, reservists and National Guard members who are called to leave their jobs to perform active duty are given rights to re-employment in their civilian jobs, according to Laura Harlos, Alaska Air Group’s manager of compliance and diversity programs. Additionally, employees returning from active duty are entitled to all rights, benefits and seniority they would have received had they never left.

Surprisingly, despite the law, some employers are less enthusiastic about employees leaving to serve their country, according to the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). Some employers look for ways to circumvent the law, or find loopholes. Companies can downsize, lay off employees or sell the business to another company and returning soldiers often fall through the cracks.

Not at Alaska Air Group. The company has won several awards from the ESGR in the past few years for supporting employees deployed to war or to training.

iPhone photo I was able to take of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 and the fallen soldier baggage cart at the airline's maintenance facility in Seattle during a special Veteran's event in November 2011.

iPhone photo I was able to take of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 and the fallen soldier baggage cart at the airline’s maintenance facility in Seattle during a special Veteran’s event in November 2011.

“We value their service we don’t consider it a burden, we consider it a valuable asset,” says Scott Lautman, Alaska Air Group’s human resources manager for maintenance, engineering and safety. “Along with the Alaska Spirit, enthusiastic support of our reservists has become part of our DNA.”

For Pavlinovic, the Air Group’s support of his military service comes to mind when he talks to his sons, age 14 and 17, about how fortunate they are to be Americans. A proud Croatian American, Pavlinovic’s parents came from Croatia and Pavlinovic, who was born in Seattle, spent many years living with his grandparents in the “old country.”

“I want my boys to understand how fortunate they are to have opportunities, to have the support of a country and to have freedom,” says Pavlinovic. “Many in the world don’t have that freedom and some who have it take it for granted. Not at my house.”

Pavlinovic joined the military to pay back his country for giving his parents a home and giving his father the opportunity to work to support his family. His father worked for Pan Am at the ticket counter at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for many years, and Pavlinovic always wanted to be a pilot. Wearing corrective lenses, the Seattle native could not be a pilot in the military, so he became a linguist instead. He saved his money and paid for flying lessons so he could become a commercial pilot.

In January of 2010, Pavlinovic was deployed to England to work for the Joint Analysis Center for European Command. He worked closely with LaMar Haugaard, chief pilot for Horizon Air, to schedule the time off, and upon return, to enroll in ground school for any updates he might have missed. Pavlinovic returned to Horizon in October of 2011.

“I can’t thank the company enough for their support,” Pavlinovic says. “I really missed flying and when I contacted Horizon to tell them my deployment was finished, they said to come on home.”

Both Pavlinovic and Smith say there are certain observances throughout the year when a thank you doesn’t seem adequate.

“Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day those are the times when you reflect on what you are doing, and those around you that support what you are doing,” says Smith. “It’s a time when I stand a little taller, and allow myself to feel pride熔f my service, of my employer and of my country.”

Happy Fourth of July

Be sure to stay safe out there folks. If you are flying today in the US and get photos of fireworks mid-flight, please share!

Alaska Airlines “Maintenance Angels” Help Fallen Soldiers Return Home

iPhone photo I was able to take of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 and the fallen soldier baggage cart at the airline's maintenance facility in Seattle.

iPhone photo I was able to take of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 and the fallen soldier baggage cart at the airline's maintenance facility in Seattle during a special Veteran's event in November 2011.

Today is Memorial Day, where hopefully most people are able to at least take a moment and think about those who have given the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. It is a day where it shouldn’t matter if you support war or even what political party you vote for. It should be a day where we remember those men and women who have been killed while serving in the armed forces.

When a solider dies while serving, it is a delicate process to bring their body back home. There are special military protocols that airlines must follow when transporting the remains of a fallen solider, but some airlines don’t want to do the bare minimum. Each body must have a volunteer escort that follows the fallen solider from the mortuary to their final resting place.

About a year ago, Alaska Airlines technicians realized that the process of transporting a fallen solider was lacking and they looked to improve it.

“We noticed a lot of violations of military protocols due to a lack of awareness and training,” said Brian Bowden, an Alaska Airlines line aircraft technician. “Our goal is to show respect by ensuring the proper standards are followed.”

Bowden and 13 other technicians created a new “Fallen Solider” program to, “seamlessly transfer the remains of soldiers killed in action through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.” Part of that program was creating a special baggage cart that would only be used to transport fallen soldiers. The cart was refurbished with carpet and has a retractable American flag curtain with plaques representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

The program gives details on how to properly load and unload a soldier’s remains, as well as taking care of the escort or families. “These brave men and women sacrificed their lives for you and me,” line aircraft technician Tony Sander stated. “Often, their families are traveling alongside the fallen soldier. Mishandlings are embarrassing and unacceptable.”

Escorts will fly in the main cabin, while the fallen soldier will fly in the cargo hold. During layovers, escorts need to stay with the fallen soldier at all times and that can be challenging. Alaska has gone out of their way to provide escorts or others travelling with the remains, a working station at the airline’s maintenance facility. Airline crew will also make sure that the escort is well fed during any down time and cater to any of their other needs.

Many of the technicians who worked on the program are veterans themselves and take great pride in taking care of their own. “The technicians wanted ownership. The group has many passionate ex-military members who re-designed the process completely on their own time,” said Paul Taylor, director of line maintenance. “They took decisive action and lived up to their word.”

The program has been so successful that it has spread beyond Seattle and to other airports. “This process needs to reach all the airports we serve. Training at our other sites would spread a deeper respect for all the fallen soldiers of our armed forces,” technician Bowden said.

An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 coming in for a landing. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 coming in for a landing. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

A big cheers to Alaska Airlines and the technicians who took the initiative to do the right thing.

On top of the Fallen Soldiers program, Alaska has a 100 person Employee Military Resource Group whose sole focus is to hire, retain and promote military employees.

Alaska has also recently started a new apprentice program, aimed directly at military experience and the transition to civilian/corporate work. Alaska proudly employees veterans who work in all capacities from maintenance to flying to the executive offices.