Tag Archives: SkyWest

AAPI: Pilots Embrace Asian Family History

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we asked several team members to share what this month means to them. 

Adam and Daniel Malik – ERJ First Officers, LAX

E175 First Officers Adam and Daniel Malik are first-generation Asian American brothers. They make up a small percentage of Asian pilots in America and hope to inspire more.

“We hope to change that percentage by encouraging diversity and inclusion,” said Adam.

Their pilot dreams began when they were young. Growing up in Buffalo, New York, their childhood home sat under the approach path of the Buffalo Niagara Airport (BUF). The brothers would watch the aircraft overhead while they were playing in the backyard.

To start their aviation journeys, they began fueling and washing aircraft at a local FBO. Working there, they earned money to complete flight training and attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale together. They were in the same new hire class and were sim partners at Surf Air, Envoy Air, and Compass Airlines.

After being furloughed at Compass Airlines, the brothers came to SkyWest. Once again, they were placed in the same new hire class and had the privilege of being sim partners throughout training. Now, they are both based in Los Angeles.

“May is a special month for us and our fellow Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals,” said Adam. “We are proud to work for a company that recognizes diversity and inclusion, and encourage others to never forget where you came from.”

Both Adam and Daniel enjoy setting an example for others hoping to achieve their dream of becoming a pilot and are proving anything is possible for Asian Americans.

Kizna Loosle – CRJ First Officer, MSP

Kizna Loosle’s dream to become a pilot started when she was a little girl. For her 10th birthday, Kizna went on her first discovery flight and knew that was what she wanted to do!

Kizna grew up in Las Vegas and attended a high school with an aviation magnet program. She received her private pilot’s license her senior year and then went to Utah State University where she studied aviation.

At Utah State, Kizna was a flight instructor, taught ground school on campus, and had a student internship for SkyWest Flight Operations. During that time, she knew SkyWest was the best fit for her. Before coming to SkyWest, she gained flight hours by flying tours for Scenic and Grand Canyon Airlines. She met her husband at USU, and they were new hires together at Scenic and also at SkyWest.

Kizna started at SkyWest on the Brasilia before moving to the CRJ. She is the co-chair of SkyWest’s Family Support Committee, something that she is passionate about as a mom. She is also a mentor and conference committee member for the Professional Asian Pilot Association (PAPA) and is currently coordinating cultural events for their first expo in July.

“I am proud to be a Japanese and Filipino Woman,” said Kizna. “Recognizing Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and spotlighting different cultures is really important.”

Kizna has two daughters that she teaches her heritage to. As a family, they enjoy eating Japanese and Filipino cuisines and learning about different parts of the world. Kizna’s grandmother was one of her greatest supporters and having her granddaughter in the airline industry was monumental for her.

“I’ll never forget the way she always beamed with pride when she saw me in my uniform,” said Kizna. “I’m grateful every day that she had the courage to move to America from the Philippines.”

Kizna likes the welcoming atmosphere at SkyWest and connecting with her coworkers.

“Representation truly matters and it’s fun to learn about each other’s amazing backgrounds,” said Kizna.

Check out our careers page to see our current openings.

AAPI: My Ethnicity Shaped My Aviation Story

As part of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we are excited to highlight some incredible employees we have working here at SkyWest. This includes people like Bruce Chang, a SkyWest A&P mechanic in Colorado Springs. Bruce says his SkyWest journey actually began before he was even born.

“I enjoy being at SkyWest because of the community I experience and the way we embrace diversity here,” said Bruce. “SkyWest started from humble beginnings, similar to my family’s story.”

During the Vietnam War, Bruce’s parents boarded a plane with other refugees in the jungles of Southeast Asia and came to America. They were among the first Hmong people to enter the U.S. The new culture was a shock, and learning the language and how to drive made their new everyday routine difficult to navigate. But his parents knew the challenges would pay off for their five children here in the land of the free.

Bruce’s father loved aviation. Bruce remembers looking over his large collection of aviation books and watching him build airplane models. His dad also took the family to air shows every year and loved being near all aircraft. Bruce’s great uncle actually maintained and piloted helicopters, like the Bell UH-1, during the war and Bruce’s dad hoped to do something similar in the U.S. Ultimately, Bruce’s dad had to choose a different path to provide for his family.

After graduating high school, Bruce was excited to continue helping his family find their brighter future. His parents had encouraged him to seek higher education and a career like a doctor, mathematician, or an engineer. Several years into college, Bruce realized those careers were not for him. He discussed his circumstances with his dad, who remembered his aviation dreams as a young adult. His dad enthusiastically told Bruce about his earlier dreams and their family history in aviation. He also noted there were few Asian people in the aviation industry and encouraged Bruce to look into the field.

Thankfully, there was an AMT school and a SkyWest maintenance hangar nearby. Knowing how proud it would make his father, Bruce followed his father’s advice. Bruce and his dad went and met with a school counselor, toured the facility, and talked with the director. Bruce enrolled that day. Thanks to the hard work that his parents instilled in him, Bruce graduated Valedictorian and as the head of the diversity club. After graduation, he applied at SkyWest and the rest is history.

“Now, I look back and think about how my ethnic background has influenced where I am today,” said Bruce. “The overwhelming challenges my parents faced and the experiences we had empower me to move forward.”

Bruce knows being Asian American helps him better see the beauty and worth of cultural differences and accept them.

“I believe I can bring value to this world like my parents did,” said Bruce. “I think I can still make a positive difference. It’s easy to be passive and let the world around pass by, but I choose to be different. Being Asian American has helped open my eyes to this perspective.”

Bruce is excited about people of all ethnic backgrounds entering the field of aviation. He has enjoyed watching the positive change over his 11 years as a mechanic at SkyWest.

“My coworkers acknowledge my Asian American heritage rather than ignore it,” said Bruce. “SkyWest is a company that values diversity; it is apparent in their acknowledgement of AAPI month.”

Become a part of our diverse team by visiting our careers page!

SkyWest Pilot Shares His Fight With Cancer

For SkyWest pilot Bruce McNaughton, next month will mark 23 years since his last dose of chemotherapy. While not everyone is fortunate to beat cancer, Captain McNaughton is thankful for the extra time that has allowed him to see his kids grow up, and to continue his passion for aviation.

The Denver ERJ Captain was diagnosed in 1994 with hairy cell leukemia when he was serving in the Air Force. Following his diagnosis, he began treatment for the next six months.

“I remember the oncologist telling me that if I had to get cancer, this was the one,” Captain McNaughton recalled. “This particular cancer is considered an indolent disease; it takes its time. But there was still physical discomfort, life disruption, and the unknowns.”

In 1995, he returned to flight status and moved to another Air Force base. Then, during a checkup three years later, the flight surgeon noticed that Captain McNaughton’s blood count was trending down. A relapse was diagnosed and he resumed treatment. The following year, Captain McNaughton returned to flight status and has been disease-free ever since.

After retiring from the Air Force, Captain McNaughton joined the airline industry and flew commercially before taking some time away to work at a family-owned tax practice.

“I quickly realized how much I missed flying,” he said. “I put in an application to SkyWest in 2016, and I’ve been here ever since. It’s been great and I have really enjoyed being at SkyWest.”

When he’s not flying 35,000 feet in the air, Captain McNaughton can be found visiting with cancer patients as well as sending gifts to many who are fighting the disease throughout the country.

“When I started chemotherapy in 1994, I would go in every other Monday for six months,” he said. “During this time, I would get hooked up to an IV and the nurse would put a jar of “belly flops” – which are imperfect jelly beans – on the table next to me for a snack. It’s a whimsical diversion because you never know what flavor it’s going to be. So what I’ve done over the years is send a jar of belly flops to those I hear about who have cancer. I tell them my story and let them know that they are not alone.”

For Captain McNaughton, just being there for others is what it’s all about.

“I’ve had people tell me that they wanted to call me, but were hesitant because they didn’t know what to say,” he said. “So my message to those people is this: Please don’t avoid contact because you don’t know what to say. Just being there, or keeping in contact with a phone call, text, or postcard goes a long way.”

Congratulations Captain McNaughton on being cancer free the past 23 years. Your efforts to encourage and inspire others is shared by all of us at SkyWest in the fight against cancer.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

SkyWest is proud to have a diverse team with many cultures and backgrounds represented throughout our workforce. This month we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month and heard from many of our employees about what their heritage means to them and how it plays a role at SkyWest. Here’s what they had to say:

Paola Johnson — Flight Attendant, SLC

I was born in Santiago, Chile, and came to the United States when I was 10 years old. I’ll never forget that night and the bittersweet goodbyes. On that 10-hour flight, my love for aviation began thanks to an amazing flight attendant who took me under her wing. Though she was working first class, she constantly checked up on me and spoiled me with inflight goodies (pillow, blanket, snacks, and coloring books). It was that moment when I said to myself, “I want to be just like her.” The kindness she showed me really impacted me and inspired me to become a flight attendant just like her.

Years later, one of my friends told me about a SkyWest hiring event that was being held in Salt Lake City the following day. I thought the idea of possibly interviewing the very next day was crazy, but I took my chances, and five years later, here I am!

After my first year at SkyWest, I jumped at the opportunity to join the InFlight recruitment team. I love going to recruitment events and seeing not only the excitement that so many applicants have, but giving them the same opportunities that I was given. I’ll never forget when I asked an applicant a question and he responded by saying that it was inspiring and motivating for him to see a Latina flight attendant conducting his interview. It made him proud and happy to see diversity here at SkyWest.

In July, I celebrated my five-year work anniversary at SkyWest and my experiences have been nothing but amazing. I’m so grateful for the many friendships that I’ve built here and the places I’ve been able to see and explore. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities SkyWest has provided for me and my family!

Eventually, my family went back to Chile, but they left me with many valuable lessons that I still cherish to this day: the value of hard work, having courage and believing in yourself – even if you have to start over. As a mom, I hope that I’m teaching my daughters that same work ethic and showing them that anything is possible, no matter where they come from.

Nayomie Burns — Flight Attendant, DFW

I have always wanted to be a flight attendant. I grew up an Army brat (child), and lived in some pretty diverse places. Both of my parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico and married very young. My mom always instilled in us to get an education and to do better than they did. So, although my desire was to become a flight attendant after high school, I obeyed and went to college.

I truly enjoyed my time as a college student and made such great friends. But again, I was in rural Louisiana at the time and people did not know that Puerto Ricans could have such dark skin. I always had to explain myself to others, but that is one thing that I’ve never had to do at SkyWest.

When I joined the SkyWest family as a flight attendant, I said to myself, “I am done. I am in my forever career.” I’m so glad I came here and didn’t go elsewhere. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many great people and have met more Latinx pilots than I can count. I have been inspired by them and countless others to try my hand on the other side of the door.

I started taking flight lessons a couple of years ago and finally received my PPL this past June – right as I transferred to Dallas (DFW). During this time, I have met so many Latinx pilots and plan to join them one day as an Afro-Latina, which I am proud to be. I really appreciate the opportunities that SkyWest affords me and how they embrace and encourage individuality while still being part of a larger community.

Rene Azahar — CRJ Captain, FAT

SkyWest CRJ Captain Rene Azahar credits his father for sparking his passion for aviation and for helping him get to where he is today.

“Growing up, my dad would take me over to Los Angeles International Airport to watch the planes take off and land. It was a thrill! When we weren’t at the airport, you could find us flying model airplanes at the park.”

A few years later, the family moved to Santa Maria, California, right behind the airport. From his backyard, Captain Azahar could see the SkyWest planes take off and land. It was during this time that Captain Azahar made it his goal to be a commercial airline pilot for SkyWest one day.

With strong family support and his dad telling him to never give up on his dream, Captain Azahar fulfilled that promise in 2017 when he was hired at SkyWest.

Click here to read more about Captain Azahar’s inspiring path to becoming a commercial airline pilot.

JJ Jimenez Lopez — Flight Attendant, DFW

For SkyWest Flight Attendant JJ Jimenez Lopez, working in the aviation industry wasn’t something that had ever crossed his mind growing up. That all changed when a friend and fellow SkyWest Flight Attendant Vanna Hoang, encouraged him to look into it.

“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 because SkyWest has changed my life.”

For JJ, who recently celebrated his five-year work anniversary this summer, it all wouldn’t have been possible without the help of his parents who made a number of sacrifices so that he could have a better life.

“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.”

Click here to read more about JJ’s path to becoming a flight attendant.

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.

Hispanic Heritage Month: “SkyWest Changed My Life”

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.

“She Went Above And Beyond For Us”

During a recent flight from Salt Lake City to Burbank, California, SkyWest Flight Attendant Shannon Dilling Damota was just going about her duties and doing her best to provide excellent customer service during an unfortunate delay. She didn’t think anything of it when she was entertaining kids and passing out snacks.

But to the Kaye family, Shannon’s efforts to take care of them and other passengers was everything they needed after a long and stressful day. The family, including two seven year olds and a two-year-old toddler, started their trip in Idaho but were faced with several delays and flight changes due to some unexpected operational issues at their departing airport.

“It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong,” said Mitch Kaye. “Luckily the day was saved thanks to the SkyWest crew, especially Shannon who went above and beyond for us.”

After landing in Salt Lake, the Kaye’s hurried to make their connecting flight to Burbank. Once onboard, the crew had to perform some troubleshooting due to the cabin lights flickering on and off, causing the aircraft to temporarily go dark. Shannon got out her flashlight and was busy keeping everyone entertained.

“When I heard their little girl say, ‘The monsters are coming,’ when the lights went off, I quickly grabbed my flashlight and started doing hand puppets to distract her. We also played peek-a-boo and I danced in the aisle like a fool to help calm everyone down. It worked, so it was worth it,” Shannon said laughing.

Shannon was also able to help the family move into their own row in the back of the aircraft, allowing their youngest to fall asleep on the late flight.

“Shannon went above and beyond for us and helped us get through our trip,” said Mitch. “Despite the delays and plane changes, she provided a great experience and made us appreciate flying. I work at a service department for a dealership and understand things like this happen from time to time and that things break down. For me, it’s how a team handles these situations that can set you apart from the competition and SkyWest was consistent and kept us updated throughout the day. We wouldn’t hesitate using SkyWest again.”

When Shannon received those kind words from the Kaye’s a few days later she couldn’t help but cry knowing her actions helped make a difference.

“They were happy tears,” Shannon said smiling. “It meant so much to me. I was just doing my job and honestly didn’t think anything of it. It just goes to show just how far kindness can go, especially in these chaotic times. You don’t know what someone else is going through and I just try to show kindness and help wherever I can. That’s what it’s all about!”

SkyWest’s team of aviation professionals, including our more than 4,000 flight attendants regularly go out of their way to ensure our passengers have a great travel experience on every flight. If you’re ready to make an impact, join the SkyWest team 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 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.