On any given morning, as customers wearily wade their way through security in Detroit, a group of Endeavor Air Special Assignment Flight Attendants (SAFAs) are busy ensuring the aircraft those customers are headed to are prepped for their arrival. The SAFAs in the Motor City may not have super powers, but they certainly swoop in and save the day – and potential delays – for their fellow crew members.
The Detroit Inflight team features two types of SAFAs – four Operations SAFAs and an Onboard Services SAFA. The duties of the Operations SAFA entail pre-flight audits to ensure grooming has cleaned and prepped the cabin of a plane, confirm that catering has properly stocked the aircraft, tending to the needs of the scheduled Flight Attendants, and working with the gate agents to assist with anything that may delay departure.
“Our main focus with each flight is an on-time departure and the comfort of the customers,” noted Kristina Castillo, a 13-year Flight Attendant with Endeavor. “We do more than just check the planes. We help with bags and will even pre-board the flight if the crew is delayed.”
“We just want to be a friendly face for the customers and crew,” added Tami Winn, a Flight Attendant who joined Endeavor more than 10 years ago.
The Onboard Services SAFA works with catering to plan and prepare the requisite items for flights that are heading out for multiple turns. One trip segment might be an “Express Service” flight, which only requires water for customers; while “Full Service” may feature first-class meals, premium snacks for Comfort+ customers, and a variety of beverages and snacks for the entire aircraft. The Onboard Services SAFA also ensures Flight Attendants are meeting uniform compliance requirements, like whether hair is up and off the shoulders, or that watches and jewelry are in line with what’s allowed per the guide.
“Between all of us, we try to meet as many flights as possible,” added Suzanne Leigh, Onboard Services SAFA. “We just want everything to be consistent without confusion. Our goal is to make sure our Flight Attendants have time to do what they need to do.”
Given the expansive layout of the McNamara Terminal in Detroit, with nearly two miles of space between the gates in the A, B, and C Concourses, the SAFAs shuffle from gate to gate during multiple arrival and departure banks throughout the day.
In a single shift, it’s not unheard of for these SAFAs to log more than four miles by foot.
“We call this job the Endeavor Cardio Plan,” joked Deb Nadeau, a Flight Attendant who
started with Endeavor in 2007. “With our offices in C [Concourse], the majority of Endeavor’s flights land in A [Concourse], we grab our clipboards, head on over, check on our crews, wave bye-bye, then we do it all over again.”
That hustle can mean the difference between an on-time departure and an unnecessary delay.
“If I see something that I know I can handle in a couple minutes, versus calling and waiting on grooming, I’m going to do it,” admitted LaShawn Moore, Operations SAFA. “As I was walking the cabin earlier, I noticed some cracker crumbs under the seat in row 20. The groomers missed it, but I wasn’t going to let our customers see that mess, so I cleaned it up. We saved a delay, it’s what we do.”
“The Company looks at numbers and data,” concluded Castillo. “We are there to help ensure our numbers meet the mark. When we’re there for our Flight Attendants, we can help keep them moving.”
“I’m just happy to work as a SAFA,” added Moore. “I love the women I work with and I think it takes all of us as a team to do what we do.”
Contrary to what movies and comics may show, not all superheroes wear capes. Sometimes they carry clipboards while roaming through airport terminals.
Together, the DTW SAFAs are winning the battle against delays, and doing it with a smile every day.