For SkyWest Flight Attendant JJ Jimenez Lopez, working in the aviation industry wasn’t something that had ever crossed his mind as he was growing up.
That all changed when a friend and fellow SkyWest Flight Attendant Vanna Hoang, encouraged him to look into it.
“I bumped into Vanna at a friend’s wedding and we just started talking about her career at SkyWest. She told me how much she loved being a flight attendant and told me that I would be a great fit,” JJ recalled. “She gave me some tips and the next thing I know I was in training and have been a SkyWest Flight Attendant ever since.”
“I’ll never forget JJ texting me and telling me that he got the job,” said Vanna. “I was super ecstatic for him and it’s been great having him at SkyWest.”
Although JJ and Vanna have been based in different crew domiciles over the years, JJ was able to pick up a trip for Vanna recently in what was a full-circle moment for the two of them.
“Vanna introduced me to SkyWest and the aviation industry, and the next minute I’m covering one of her trips,” said JJ. “How cool is that! Every time I see Vanna I make sure to thank her for helping me get here because SkyWest has changed my life.”
Growing up in the small town of Casas Viejas, Mexico – roughly four hours northwest of Mexico City – JJ didn’t have a lot of future career opportunities.
“The town had one phone,” said JJ. “Everyone had to share it and it didn’t take long for everyone to know each other.”
Wanting to give his children more opportunities, JJ’s father, Salvador, worked in the fields as a migrant worker in California. After several years, the family was able to move to the United States, and eventually settled in Utah.
“My parents worked two jobs and did everything for me and my siblings to have a better life,” said JJ.
Unfortunately, JJ’s parents both passed away just over a year ago. While the loss has been tough for him and his siblings, they are continuing to honor their memories by following their examples and keeping their heritage and culture alive.
“I’m proud of my heritage. It means everything to me,” said the Dallas-based flight attendant. “My parents taught me early on about the importance of hard work, dedication, and being proud of where I come from and who I am. My parents came from nothing and gave my siblings and me a better life. Their sacrifice and love is something that I’ll never forget.”
The values and teachings from his parents are paying off for JJ as he is now pursuing his dream to become a commercial pilot. As part of the process, JJ is using SkyWest’s Professional Leave Program (PRO) – which allows employees to maintain employment as they work toward obtaining the training and certifications to become a SkyWest pilot, A&P mechanic or dispatcher.
“I never considered being a pilot until I came to SkyWest,” said JJ. “But that’s what I love about SkyWest. The company is diverse, it’s my second home, I love my coworkers and it provides so many opportunities. I can’t tell you how many SkyWest pilots have taken me under their wing to give me tips and advice to help me succeed as I work towards becoming a pilot.”
The help from coworkers and the doors that have opened to him has not gone unnoticed to JJ, who makes it a point to pay it forward whenever he can.
“When I was working a trip in Detroit, I noticed a family who looked lost in the airport. I’ve been there too,” JJ said laughing. “I went over and introduced myself and asked if they needed any help. They didn’t speak English, but I was able to talk to them in Spanish and help them make their connecting flight. The kids were surprised because they had never come across a Mexican flight attendant before. I told them my story and let them know that anything is possible and to work hard and they will achieve it. I know that first hand because I’m proof of that.”
This past summer, JJ celebrated his five-year work anniversary. The flight attendant and soon-to-be pilot has no plans of going anywhere else.
“I love it here,” said JJ. “SkyWest is my family and I couldn’t be happier.”
To learn how you could become a part of the SkyWest team, check out our Careers page and apply today.