Tag Archives: SkyWest People

Hispanic Heritage Month: Captain Azahar Makes Promise, Fulfills Dream

As we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize one of our pilots whose heritage has played a role in his career as a pilot. CRJ Captain Rene Azahar also credits his father for sparking his passion for aviation and for helping him get to where he is today. Despite the obstacles and hardships that came, Rene has overcome the challenges, achieved his goal, and is now living his dream. Read on as he describes his path to becoming a commercial pilot at SkyWest.


I was born in El Salvador, a small country located in Central America. Back in the 1980s, a dangerous civil war was taking place, so for safety reasons, my parents immigrated my sister and me to America when I was just four years old. It was on that Boeing 737 flight to Los Angeles (LAX) that I fell in love with aviation. From that day forward, the only thing I wanted to be was an airline pilot.

My road to the cockpit was a very long and difficult one. Oftentimes, I felt as though my desire to become a professional aviator would never be more than just a dream. The problem in our family was always a lack of finances. My parents left their careers as lawyers in El Salvador and had to start from scratch in America. On top of that, I had to go through the very lengthy process of becoming a U.S. citizen. The wonderful thing is that while my family lacked financial resources, they more than made up for it through their love, support, and encouragement to always dream big.

My biggest supporter was my dad. When I was a kid, he was always taking me to LAX to watch planes take off and land from all over the world. It was a thrill! When we couldn’t go to the airport, we would build and fly little model airplanes at the park. Later on, we moved to Santa Maria, California (SMX), right next to the airport. From my backyard, I could see the SkyWest Brasilia planes take off and land. I was 13 years old the day I thought to myself: “Someday, I’m going to fly for SkyWest Airlines.” My dad always told me never to give up on this dream of mine and that with hard work and determination, someday I’d find myself wearing a pilot uniform walking towards my jet.

My dad’s words came true. After years of hard work and saving every penny that I could, I was able to go to flight school and obtain my pilot certificates, ratings, and flight time. I applied to SkyWest and my whole family jumped for joy when I was invited to interview for a position as a First Officer! I can’t describe the look on my dad’s face when I told him the interview went great and that I had been offered a position as a SkyWest pilot. That was the proudest moment for me and something that I will never forget.

Unfortunately, my dad passed away 10 days before my SkyWest class date. The day he passed was the saddest time of my life. However, he and I had this dream together and I knew he wanted me to continue. On the first day of my IOE, as I found myself wearing my pilot’s uniform and walking towards my jet, I could feel my dad’s presence right there with me. To this day, when I’m up at cruising altitude as the sun is going down, I can feel my dad sitting in that jumpseat with a big smile on his face, especially when I’m lining up to land on runway 24R in LAX – where he and I stood for hours watching airplanes come in.

When I meet kids who have an interest in becoming pilots but think it might be too hard or too expensive, I tell them, “If a poor kid from El Salvador can do it, you can do it too!”


SkyWest is proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and appreciate the contributions of all those like Captain Azahar who continue help make the airline the best in the industry and for encouraging and inspiring the next generation of aviation professionals. To learn how you could become a part of the SkyWest team, check out our Careers page and apply today.

SkyWest Flight Attendant Goes Above And Beyond, Unknowingly Goes Viral

During a flight from Oklahoma City to Houston, SkyWest Flight Attendant Antonio Cromwell didn’t think anything of it when he sat on the floor to assist a passenger sitting in first class.

Later that night, his phone started buzzing with texts and calls from family and friends telling him that he had gone viral.

“At first, I thought people were joking with me, then I had coworkers reaching out and I knew something was up,” said Antonio.

The Chicago-based flight attendant did indeed go viral when a passenger snapped a photo of him playing Pokémon with a young boy to keep him entertained on a flight.

“A father and son boarded the plane and they didn’t have seats together,” said Antonio. “The father asked if his son could sit at the front so that a flight attendant could watch over him during the flight. It wasn’t a big deal and I was happy to help.”

Before takeoff, Antonio introduced himself and talked with the boy to see what his entertainment plans were for the flight. The boy mentioned that he was looking forward to playing an online game against his cousin.

Knowing the boy would need to purchase internet to play his game online, Antonio asked him if he had anything else to play with that didn’t require an internet connection.

To Antonio’s surprise, the boy pulled out Pokémon cards and the rest was history.

“I was more excited than he was when he pulled out his Pokémon cards,” Antonio quipped. “When I was a kid, collecting Pokémon cards was a big deal and I didn’t realize that kids still did that. We talked about our collections and then I told him I would be back in a bit so that I could serve and help other passengers.”

After attending to other passengers, Antonio noticed the boy still wanted to play games online against his cousin. Without hesitation, Antonio went ahead and purchased the internet for him so that he could play.

“Seeing him having fun and playing with his cousin… that’s what it’s all about,” said Antonio. “I was just doing my job and didn’t think it was anything special. I always try to provide great customer service.”

“Antonio is a wonderful example of core4 and really even beyond that level of caring,” added Sarah Murphy, SVP of United Express. “Truly a bright star!”

At the end of the flight and as the family deplaned, the boy told Antonio that the next time they are on his route, he’ll be sure to bring him some Pokémon cards.

 “I’m going to hold him to it,” Antonio said laughing. “But honestly, it was great to make someone’s day and that’s why I love my job.”

The Chicago-based flight attendant is grateful for the opportunity to be a flight attendant and to follow in his aunt’s footsteps.

“I had an aunt who was a flight attendant for more than 30 years,” he said. “She would commute to Chicago and I would get to ride with her to and from the airport sometimes. When she finished her trips, she would tell me about her experiences, places she’s gone and the people she met. It sounded like the dream job and was something that I wanted to do.”

Coming up on his five-year work anniversary, Antonio is thankful he took a chance and followed his heart to become a flight attendant.

“I’m so blessed to have come to SkyWest,” he said. “It’s been amazing and the past five years have flown by. I’ve made so many friends and love interacting with passengers and having positive experiences. I’ve had a bunch of jobs over the years and being a flight attendant is the first time that I can truly say that I love going to work every day.”

When asked what advice he has for people thinking about an aviation career, Antonio replied: “Do it! It’s not your typical 9-5 job, but that’s what makes it so great. It’s a different lifestyle and I love it. My only regret is that I did not become a flight attendant sooner.”

Make an impact and join SkyWest’s amazing team today.

Pride Month: SkyWest Employees Share Their Stories

At SkyWest, we recognize, embrace and celebrate the differences that make each of our 14,000 aviation professionals unique. We are proud of our inclusive work environment and know we are stronger together because of our diversity.

This month, several employees from across the system submitted stories about their SkyWest journey and what Pride Month means to them. Here’s what they had to say:

Wynn Gunter – Flight Attendant, PDX

Growing up in Mississippi, I found it hard being able to accept and appreciate the person I was behind my skin. I had no other friends growing up who were LGBTQ+. I felt alone a lot of the time and felt like I had to keep it a secret. I lived behind a lot of lies because I was ashamed. My mom had no idea that I was gay and I came out to her when I was 18 years old. It wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows from that point, as it was a challenge for my mom at first.

A couple of years later and I joined SkyWest at the ripe age of 22. I had no intention of becoming a flight attendant, however, working at SkyWest has been one of the best things that has happened to me. Before I came to SkyWest, I was working at a hotel near the Portland Airport (PDX). While there, I met SkyWest crews, including the fabulous Beverly Mendez who told me about the InFlight hiring events that were taking place. She told me, “I better see you there!” So, I found a cheap ticket to fly down to SJC for a hiring event and the rest was history.

Since joining SkyWest, I found a community that I felt like I was truly a part of and have met some of my best friends at the PDX base. I also met my partner of four years through the airlines. Since then we have traveled to Greece, Amsterdam, Belgium, New York City, and countless trips to theme parks across the country. We are huge rollercoaster nerds.

I feel like I owe a lot of who I am today to SkyWest. I finally felt like I found a community that I could be a part of where I could be comfortable with the person who I am regardless of my sexuality. The airline industry is a huge part of our lives now and we are forever grateful for the experience. Being part of a company where you feel recognized and supported for the person you are is a huge key to success. Happy Pride!

Stevie Russell – Flight Attendant, ORD

For Stevie Russell, a Chicago-based flight attendant, SkyWest was the perfect fit for her. Having wanted to be a flight attendant for quite some time, Stevie started researching different air carriers and quickly realized that she wanted to be at SkyWest.

“I did my research and found SkyWest to be very open, accepting, and an awesome place to work. It was a no-brainer for me and knew that SkyWest was the perfect fit for me. Immediately, I felt very welcomed and accepted.”

For Stevie, Pride Month holds a special place in her heart and is an opportunity to recognize and reflect on the contributions of those – both past and present – who have made difference.

“It’s a time to promote love, equality, self-affirmation, recognition and to educate,” she said. “I am able to be who I am today because they were brave enough to have fought and rallied before me.”

When asked what advice she has for those who want to be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community, Stevie asks that everyone has an open heart and mind and to research and ask questions to someone that you know is a part of the community.

“There are so many different sexual orientations out there; learning what you can about them really helps to understand the people within the community and what it really means to be an ally.”

Justin Shurtz – Maintenance Control, HDQ

My story at SkyWest begins in 2017. I had done corporate aviation until then but decided for a change. What I didn’t expect to find is a SkyWest family. No matter where I go and whenever I meet other SkyWest employees, it’s almost like we are instant friends.

As a gay mechanic, it’s not always easy. When I first started in Salt Lake (SLC), I was terrified about people finding out. But when the time came, I was surprised by what I had found. Everyone in SLC welcomed me with open arms. Fast forward to today, and I’m now in Maintenance Control.

I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. My partner and I have been on many amazing journeys that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. The possibilities are endless. The professionalism and respect that I have found at SkyWest just can’t be put into words.

SkyWest may be one of the largest airlines in the world, but we definitely have that small company feeling. As I move forward with my career and with my flight training, I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. I’m excited to see what the future brings and super excited to be a part of the journey.

Michael Lanzaro Fisher – Flight Attendant, ORD

Growing up, Michael Lanzaro Fisher, a Chicago-based flight attendant, always felt he was different.

“I wasn’t sure how different I was until I was much older,” he said.

Michael describes coming out as gay was a relief that gave him a chance to refocus on his goals for the future. Reveling in his newfound clarity, he flew home to share the special time with his family. It was onboard the aircraft home he noticed the flight attendants’ kindness and professionalism.

“They had such poise and grace,” said Michael. “I admired how they seemed so happy while at work.”

From that point on, Michael felt like aviation was the place for him.

“I don’t know exactly what it was,” said Michael. “Aviation calls to people. It’s not something you just go and pick; it’s inside of you.”

Michael researched how to become a flight attendant and began applying for jobs. He applied for the flight attendant position at several airlines, including SkyWest. After a positive interview experience at SkyWest, he knew it was the place for him.

“I put all the other airlines on the back burner; I wanted to be at SkyWest,” said Michael.

Michael joined the SkyWest team as a flight attendant in 2018. After negative experiences at other jobs, he was nervous about how he would fit in with his coworkers. However, from the beginning, Michael says he was greeted with open arms.

“I’m forever grateful I’m a flight attendant at SkyWest,” said Michael. “My coworkers are very accepting. No one seems to care about your differences; they never put you down — they just treat you as a human being.”

Making an effort to embrace the differences of those around him and to model inclusive behavior with everyone he meets, Michael’s actions are mirrored by countless others at SkyWest thanks to a culture of respect and teamwork that has been built over the last 49 years.

In February 2021, Michael was promoted to lead flight instructor. It was not Michael’s plan to go for a promotion so quickly, but after encouragement from his co-workers, he decided to go for it and is enjoying his new role in Chicago. Michael hopes that in the future people won’t need to come out and that respect and inclusion will be commonplace everywhere. Until then, Michael is grateful for the way his SkyWest team has welcomed him.

Pride Month: “SkyWest Was the Perfect Fit for Me”

SkyWest is proud of our diverse team. As part of Pride Month, we are sharing stories and experiences from some of our LGBTQ+ employees. Here is what Stevie Russell, a Chicago-based flight attendant had to say:

What does it mean to be part of the LGBTQ+ community?

One word that jumps to mind when I think about being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is freedom. Freedom to just be unapologetically me and not hide. To be accepted, loved and understood for all that I am. Within our community, there’s no judgment or expectation to be anything other than our authentic selves. It never matters what part of the community you make up, including if you are an ally, you are always welcomed with loving and open arms.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

Pride Month, to me, is a time to promote love, equality, self-affirmation, recognition and to educate. To show we are not ashamed of who we are and to try and end the stigma around the LGBTQ+ community. Pride Month wouldn’t have been possible if it hadn’t been for all the hardships of the ones before. I am able to be who I am today because they were brave enough to have fought and rallied before me. So, we honor them and ourselves to continue to love and educate everyone.

What has your experience been like at SkyWest?

I joined SkyWest this year as a flight attendant and was part of the first class that graduated in February.  Immediately, I felt very welcomed and accepted. Everyone I have met, from instructors to pilots and other flight attendants, has been so helpful and kind. I have always been open about my sexual orientation and I am very happy to be at a company that is so open and accepting of people from all walks of life. Whenever talking to someone, and me being a lesbian comes up, they never falter or treat me any different, and I love that. I love the feeling of acceptance at SkyWest and all the people I’ve met.

Talk about your journey to SkyWest, your experiences and what inspired you to join the aviation industry. 

Before starting at SkyWest, I worked for the United States Postal Service (USPS) as a city carrier. It was a nice job and I loved my coworkers. However, I have wanted to be a flight attendant for quite some time and even applied to a few carriers right before I got hired at USPS.  At the time, I thought the post office was a better fit because it was close to home and it gave me the ability to help out my family. Towards the end of my career there, I was unhappy and really wanted to get out to see the world and meet new people from all walks of life. So, I applied to become a flight attendant.

Before coming to SkyWest, I did a lot of research on different carriers. I read about the company and learned how SkyWest came to be. I even looked up employee testimonies and found it to be a very open, accepting, and awesome place to work. It was a no-brainer for me after doing the research and knew that SkyWest was the perfect fit for me. One thing I really love about my job is getting to meet new people and make new friendships. I have met and heard so many amazing stories not only from my coworkers but from the passengers I talk to on my flights.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming part of the aviation industry?

Just do it. You won’t regret it! This is an amazing and ever-growing industry. You get to meet so many different people and see so many beautiful places. This is a career where going to work doesn’t actually feel like work.

What advice do you have for those who want to be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community?

Don’t just have an open mind and heart, but research and ask questions to someone that you know is a part of the community. There are so many different sexual orientations out there; learning what you can about them really helps to understand the people within the community and what it really means to be an ally.

Happy Father’s Day: Thanks, Dad!

The saying “it runs in the family” certainly rings true at SkyWest with aviation playing a big part for many of SkyWest’s 14,000 employees.

To celebrate Father’s Day, and to show our dads and father figures just how much we appreciate them, we asked a few SkyWest employees to share how their dads have inspired and guided them.

Jenny Elmer – CRJ First Officer, DEN

My dad has always been my hero since I was a little girl! He was a United Airlines pilot and I aspired to be an airline pilot just like him.

My dad constantly supported me and helped me get through my flight training. He even reinstated his CFI to fly with me while I built my flight time. He instilled the hard work ethic I have and reminded me to always find the fun in flying. Dad found humor in everything! We had a lot of laughs.

In 2005, I became an intern for United and was able to ride on Dad’s jumpseat for a handful of flights. Then in 2006, I was hired as a first officer at SkyWest Airlines. My dad wins the “most flights on your daughter’s jumpseat award”! He was on the jumpseat of one of my Brasilia flights and again several times when I transitioned to the jet! He was so proud of me and I was over the moon to have him on my flights!

I married a SkyWest pilot and my dad came along when my husband picked up one of my trips as captain. After starting my career at SkyWest, I continued flying trips on Dad’s jumpseat and made sure to join him and my husband (who is also at United now) on their jumpseat to Hawaii! I even rode on the jumpseat of Dad’s retirement flight!

I’m so proud of my dad and I will forever cherish the moments we had together flying. He shared all his knowledge of flying and encouraged me to always be the best that I could be. His great attitude led him through an amazing career and I aspire to work hard and to find the fun in every flight!

Thank you, Dad, for helping me become the pilot I am today! I want to make you proud!

Garrett Hintze – Maintenance Control Support, HDQ

Thinking back to when I was first hired at SkyWest, I remember thinking how incredibly lucky I was to have the opportunity to work alongside my father, my life’s biggest role model. Throughout my time here, my admiration for him, as well as our bond, has continually grown. He has always been an inspiration in my life and continues to set a high standard.

Even when it comes to activities outside of the workplace, such as biking, I find myself eating his dust. His sharp wits and high skill set have always been a source of reliance; hence it is no surprise that I find myself working in the same industry. His consistent support, and faith in my capacities, have played a major part in my success throughout life. He is genuinely great at what he does at SkyWest and far exceeds that in his role as a father.

Dad, you have given me the best things in life: your time, care, and love. I am so grateful to have you as my father. Happy Father’s Day!

Ethan Gray – CRJ First Officer, IAH

My dad has always been my primary inspiration for aviation. A decorated fighter pilot now with United, he has supported me throughout the long journey of becoming an airline pilot myself. I have fond memories of him flying over our house in F16s, or going to the airport to watch him land 737s. Flying runs deeply in my family, as my late grandfather was also a lifelong Air Force aviator.

Both my grandfather and dad were instrumental in my success as a pilot. The countless and riveting stories my grandfather shared kept me motivated when training got tough. My dad always had the right advice when I had a poor lesson or felt overwhelmed. If I ever needed some guidance or just a solid flying story, I always knew I could call either of them. Even though their tales consisted of action-packed heroics over enemy skies, it always came back to the fundamentals:

– Use all of your resources
– Never give up
– Never stop learning
– And of course, don’t forget to have fun

When I got the call from SkyWest, my family was ecstatic. In classic dad fashion, my father said “I’m not surprised!” Similar words to what he would tell me after every checkride pass or major milestone I completed. “You studied, you prepared, and now you’ve succeeded!” He, nor my mother, have ever expressed any doubts in my progression. They’ve been nothing but supportive. I am extremely thankful and blessed for this.

Last fall, my dad joined me on a short turn to Lake Charles. He rode in the flight deck jumpseat as Captain Sonny let me fly both legs. Our schedules so rarely line up, it made this experience very special. This was the first time a family member has ever flown with me as a professional pilot. I was so excited to have my dad and hero watching me work in the flight deck. With such experience observing me, I made sure I was on my absolute A-game. Not to brag, but I totally greased the landings for him.

Now with loads filling up, and both of our schedules becoming busier, it will probably be quite a while before we get to fly together again. That makes this experience all the more fun and special to me.

Kevin Law – System Controller, HDQ

I have always been inspired by my Dad to find a career in Aviation. Growing up, my dad served in the United States Air Force flying the EC-121 the F-102 and A-7D, before ending his military career after 30 years.

With a love for flying, my dad began looking into commercial aviation. Turns out we were both fortunate that SkyWest offered him the job. My dad was hired in 1984, and I followed in 1985.

I started as a ramp agent, and a year later, was hired as a Dispatcher/System Controller where I’ve spent the last 35 years. During this time I was fortunate to pre-plan flights and send releases as my dad’s dispatcher. Another fun memory working together is when he was flying into St. George (SGU) and I let him know over the radio that my first daughter was born. I also had great rides in the Brasilia riding in the jumpseat with him. Dispatchers are required to have jumpseat time and it was fun listening to him talk to air traffic control. I could tell they had talked many times before and had a good time ribbing each other. It was great to be able to ride along with my dad and see him do what he enjoys.

I have many happy memories and have enjoyed the many friendships that I have made at SkyWest. Thanks, Dad, and Happy Father’s Day!

Encouraging the Next Generation of Female Pilots

Denver-based CRJ First Officer Abby Jarve is passionate about women in aviation. She had an impactful mentor while she was in high school and beginning her pursuit of an aviation career, and is trying to do the same for the next generation of female aviators in her area. Abby recently took a group of high school and college girls on a tour in DEN and the girls all left with a greater excitement for flying!

The tour was organized through the Wings Over the Rockies Museum where Abby is a volunteer. The girls in her mentorship group have all received scholarships through the museum to earn their private pilot certificates, and are in different phases of their experiences. By bringing them to the airport, Abby was able to show them what a day in the life is like for a professional pilot.

“After I got hired at SkyWest, the museum asked if I would be a mentor for the scholarship foundation and the answer was an obvious, yes,” said Abby. “I hope that I can be a help and positive influence just like the mentors I’ve had in my life.”

The group started their tour in the crew lounge talking about what is done before a flight and the similarities and differences between professional and general aviation. Then they proceeded to the ramp for a walk around and tour of the flight deck of an E175 and a CRJ700. The next stop was SkyWest maintenance in DEN. The tour ended with a visit to United’s Operations Control.

“I think they all walked away with better perspectives of what being an airline pilot is like, how to achieve it, and an introduction to the SkyWest spirit,” said Clint Hultgren, DEN Flight Operations Supervisor, who met up with Abby and the girls during the tour.

We love having positive influences like Abby on our team! She is one of many women at SkyWest who encourage and inspire the next generation of female aviation professionals.

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Month

SkyWest is proud to have a global team with many cultures represented throughout our workforce. This month we celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Month by catching up with SkyWest team members across the system to share what their heritage means to them and how it plays a role at SkyWest and in their local communities. Here’s what they had to say:

April Keil – Crew Scheduler, HDQ

Since joining SkyWest nearly 20 years ago, April Keil has spent her aviation career working in Crew Support. She has been a vital part of the operation and despite working nearly two decades in her role, she has no plans of slowing down.

“I love it here. SkyWest is my home-away-from home and while 20 years sounds like a lot, it’s gone by fast,” she said. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

For April, who is both Samoan and Chinese, celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Month is important to her because it’s an opportunity to recognize the contributions of those – both past and present – who have made a difference, and to share her heritage with her kids and all those around her.

“Family is everything in the Samoan culture and family is everyone. We believe it takes a village to raise a child and everyone helps out. During a trip back to Somoa, I had kids run up to me shouting ‘Auntie, Auntie, look what we found.’ They grew up with that mentality that anyone who is your elder is your aunt or uncle. A lot of the Polynesians who are younger than me in Crew Support also call me ‘Auntie.’ I got some strange looks from my boss before I explained everything,” April said laughing.

After moving from Samoa to the United States in 1996, April wanted to make sure her kids didn’t forget where they came from. After working at SkyWest, April made the most of her travel privileges by taking her family often to visit Samoa.

“We still have a bunch of extended family over in Samoa and it’s been wonderful and such a blessing to be able to visit them,” said April. “I love showing my kids around, getting them in touch with their roots and teaching them more about their heritage, culture and traditions.”

Wanting to share that with others back home, April and her family opened up a dance studio – Siva Pasefika or “Dance Pacific” – to share the Polynesian culture with the community.

“We started Siva Pasefika in 2006 and it’s been fun sharing and teaching the Polynesian ways,” said April. “My kids are a lot older now and they have taken the lead and it’s been a lot of fun to watch and to see the culture being carried on.”  

In addition to the ability to travel and see family, April says the work/life balance, the comradery and friendships she’s made at SkyWest is what keeps her happily coming to work each day.

“SkyWest has been so good to me. It really is my second home,” she said. “I always look forward to coming in every day, even when some of my shifts start so early in the morning. I enjoy what I do and I have great coworkers who have become my lifelong friends.”

Anna and Piraya Supa – Flight Attendants, (PDX and BOI)

Traveling between the United States and Thailand each year to visit their extended family, Anna and Piraya Supa – both sisters and now SkyWest Flight Attendants – fell in love with aviation, traveling and experiencing the different customs and cultures throughout the world.

After the Supa family moved from Thailand to the United States, Anna’s dream of becoming a flight attendant became a reality. After applying for a position, Anna attended a group interview in Portland, Oregon (PDX) and started her training soon after.

After seeing her sister, Anna, have the time of her life at SkyWest, Piraya couldn’t wait to join in on the fun and was hired two years later.

Over the years, both Anna and Piraya have had the opportunity to work several trips together and enjoy visiting extended family in Thailand.

Click here to read more about Anna and Piraya’s experience.

Claudia Liu – CRJ First Officer, LAX

CRJ First Officer Claudia Liu did not follow the “typical” path to becoming a pilot. After working in the fashion industry for three years, she decided it was time for a change. Her mom suggested she apply for a pilot cadet program with Eva Air in Taiwan.

After applying, Claudia quickly realized how much she loved flying. She eventually moved to California to build up her flight hours and earned her CFI. Despite the big change, one thing that helped was the friends and supporters that Claudia met along the way, especially Michelle Lee. The two met in flight school and are both flying at SkyWest. The two flew their first trip together this past December in what was a memorable moment for both women.

Click here to read more about Claudia and her experiences.

Joel Larimer – Flight Attendant, SEA

After moving from Guam to the United States in 2003, Seattle (SEA) Flight Attendant Joel Larimer fulfilled his dream of becoming a flight attendant.

And for the past 16 years, Joel has been a fan favorite 35,000 feet in the air as he sings, dances and helps provide a great travel experience for passengers. Several frequent fliers have nicknamed him “jukebox” because he’s always singing on the plane.

For Joel, sharing his culture goes beyond just talking with passengers or making famous Chamorro food dishes for coworkers, it’s about informing, inspiring and helping to connect the world.

Click here to read more.

 

“SkyWest Is An Extension Of Our family”

As part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, flight attendants Anna and Piraya Supa – both sisters – share what their heritage means to them and reflect on their experiences at SkyWest.

Traveling between the United States and Thailand each year to visit their extended family, Anna and Piraya Supa – both sisters and now SkyWest Flight Attendants – fell in love with aviation, traveling and experiencing the different customs and cultures of both nations and surrounding countries. 

“I was always fascinated with aviation and flying,” said Anna. “Seeing crews walking through the airport and heading to destinations all over the world was exciting and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

After the Supa family moved permanently from Thailand to the United States, that desire soon became a reality as Anna fulfilled her dream of becoming a flight attendant. After applying for a position, Anna attended a group interview in Portland, Oregon (PDX) and started her training soon after.

“I was so excited when I got the news,” she said. “For me, one of the best things about being a flight attendant is making everyone’s travel experience a memorable one. I’m so glad that I came to SkyWest and the opportunities it has given me. The company is an extension of my family, and I have met so many wonderful people and have made so many friends.”

For Piraya, traveling to different places and experiencing different cultures has always been something she’s enjoyed. And after seeing her sister, Anna, have the time of her life at SkyWest, Piraya couldn’t wait to join in on the fun.

“Anna played a big part and inspired me to become a flight attendant,” she said. “I ended up going to the same hotel that Anna went to for my group interview and it’s been an amazing ride ever since.”

In their spare time, Anna and Piraya love traveling the world and exploring new countries, cities and cultures. Out of all the places they’ve visited, the one spot they make sure to visit each year is their homeland: Thailand.

“The travel privileges at SkyWest are amazing and allow us to see our extended family as often as we’d like,” said Piraya.

“We love visiting Thailand and are proud of our heritage,” added Anna. “Growing up we loved to watch our grandma cook in a traditional outdoor kitchen. That was just one of the customs and traditions we learned and that is where we learned to love Thai food and to cook.”

Anna’s favorite dish is Khao Soi, a Laotion meal, while Piraya loves Thai egg rolls.

Whether at work or at home, Anna and Piraya love sharing their culture and experiences with friends, coworkers and passengers.

“We love it and are always flattered when people ask questions,” said Anna. “We enjoy taking crewmembers out for Thai food and taking them on a culinary journey. We also make guidebooks for people who are curious about traveling to Thailand and experiencing everything that it has to offer. It’s a special place.”

Although Anna is based in PDX and Piraya is in Boise, Idaho (BOI), the two sisters still do as much as they can together.

“We’re best friends,” said Anna. “She’s the first one I call when I have bad news, and the first one I call when I have good news.”

That’s why it’s no surprise to see both sisters catching up with each other at the crew hotel or getting meals together when their paths cross throughout the SkyWest system. Over the years, both Anna and Piraya have had the opportunity to work several trips together too.

“It’s the best,” said Piraya. “It’s so much fun and we hope to do many more work trips together.”  

SkyWest is proud to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Month and appreciate the contributions of all those like Anna and Piraya who continue to help make the airline the best in the industry.

AAPI Month: SkyWest Pilot And Flight Attendant Fulfill Dreams

SkyWest pilot Claudia Liu and flight attendant Joel Larimer share what Asian American and Pacific Islander Month means to them and how their culture and background has shaped their experience at SkyWest.

CRJ First Officer Claudia Liu did not follow the “typical” path to becoming a pilot.

“I was always interested in art so after high school I attended the Rhode Island School of Design, majoring in Apparel Design,” she said.

After working in the fashion industry for three years, she decided it was time for a change. Her mom suggested she apply for a pilot cadet program with Eva Air in Taiwan.

“Growing up in Taiwan it was almost unheard of for a female to become a pilot,” Claudia said. “My family is pretty traditional and I had some family members who did not approve or believe I could become a pilot.”

Despite it being such a big change, Claudia decided to apply and immediately found that she loved flying. She eventually moved to California as she was building up her flight hours and earned her CFI.

“For me, the path to being a pilot was not easy. I had no basic knowledge or foundation of what it takes to become a pilot,” said Claudia. “There were many times where I questioned myself and wanted to give up. I am so glad I pushed through it.”

One thing that helped the process was the friends and supporters that Claudia met along the way, especially Michelle Lee. While they met in flight school, both are now flying at SkyWest. Michelle is a CRJ captain based in LAX.

“Ever since she upgraded to captain I have been looking forward to the day when we would be able to fly together,” said Claudia.

That chance finally came this past December when the two women were able to bid on the same trip.

“It was such a cool experience,” said Claudia. “In my experience it’s rare to see two female pilots in the flight deck and even less common to see two Asian female pilots. I really hope it will inspire and encourage other Asian females to consider becoming a pilot.”

Joel Larimer – Flight Attendant, SEA

After moving from Guam to the United States in 2003, Seattle (SEA) Flight Attendant Joel Larimer fulfilled his dream of becoming a flight attendant.

“It was always something that I wanted to do,” he said. “I went to a SkyWest open house with a friend, ended up getting hired, and the rest was history.”

For the past 16 years, Joel has been a fan favorite 35,000 feet in the air as he sings, dances and helps provide a great travel experience for passengers. Several frequent fliers have on his route have nicknamed him “jukebox” because he’s always singing on the plane.

“It’s a great way to break the ice, cheer people up and it’s a great conversation starter too,” said Joel. “A lot of people then ask about my background and it’s great to be able to share my culture, customs and traditions with them.”

Sharing his culture goes beyond just talking with passengers or making famous Chamorro food dishes for coworkers. It’s about informing, inspiring and helping to connect the world.

“Everyone has something to contribute and it’s important that we appreciate and celebrate the differences that we have,” he said. “We can all learn something from each other and we must not forget who we are or where we came from. 

When he’s not flying, Joel can be found teaching the language as well as cultural dances to more than 100 students. In 2012, he started Guma’ Imahe — a nonprofit organization — teaching youth about Guam through dance and music. The group has grown from 25 students to more than 100 and includes some Polynesian dance as well.

“I started dancing when I was 12 and it helped connect me to the culture,” said Joel. “That’s why I started Guma’ Imahe to give back and to help connect people to their heritage.

Serving others and giving back is what led Joel to become a flight attendant. But when he first told his parents of his decision to join the aviation industry, they were caught off guard, seeing as how he had his teaching degree.

“My parents were a little skeptical at first when I told them, but they were also very supportive at the same time. Now they use the flight benefits more than I do,” Joel said laughing.

Coming up on his 16-year work anniversary, Joel has no plans of going anywhere else.

“I love it here,” he said. “SkyWest provides a great work-life balance and it’s full of great people. I’ve made so many friends here and I fly with crews who are respectful and who appreciate me and my cultural differences.”