Of the thousands of interactions flight attendants might have throughout their careers, there are always those that leave a lasting impression. Just six months on the job, Janna-Lee Barnaby had one of those moments while working a recent Endeavor Air flight. The experience garnered social media praise from a traveling teens’ mother, Delta Air Lines, and new followers around the world.
On July 6, a 16-year old teen named Ashley was traveling alone on an Endeavor flight to New York City. The task of navigating an airport on your own can rattle even the most seasoned traveler, but doing it without all five senses can be challenging. Little did Ashley know that on her flight this day would be someone who was ready to heighten her experience, and deliver selfless service that started with the simple stroke of a pen.
As Ashley and her fellow passengers were waiting in the gate area, Janna walked up to the ticket counter and asked the gate agent for the flight’s pre-departure paperwork and if any customers had any special requests. The gate agent mentioned that there was a young woman who was hearing impaired; that young woman was Ashley.
“This was going to be my first hearing impaired customer, so I was excited and anxious in figuring out how to serve her,” Janna said. “We’ve had plenty of training on how to handle special needs customers, but when you actually get to put that training into action, it had my mind going.”
As she walked down the jet bridge to prepare for her flight, she scanned the manifest and found where Ashley was sitting – row 7 – which on a CRJ-200, is one row ahead of the exit row. Janna quick evaluated the overhead seat controls, returned to the front of the galley and got to work on her plan. Once all the pre-flight tasks were completed, she tore off a portion of the paperwork and put pen to paper.
“I checked our Flight Attendant Manual to see what it says about communicating with hearing impaired customers,” noted Janna. “It said to implement a three-point brief – When, Where, and How. So, I started writing down what I would want to see as a customer in her situation.”
Janna’s note included a short introduction, outlined what the buttons above her did, and then offered exit instructions should there be an emergency. She closed the letter by telling Ashley to ask if she needed anything, and then finished the note with a smile.
“Once everyone was boarded, I walked down and gave my safety briefing to the exit row, then I introduced myself to Ashley,” Janna continued. “I ran up to the galley, got the note, handed it to her with a smile. I then walked down the aisle to the back of the plane to check on everyone else, and on the way back up front, I stopped by to see if she understood everything. She gave me a smile and a thumbs up. She got it.”
What Janna didn’t know was that Ashley was so impressed with the service that she texted a picture of the note to her mom, who then tweeted out her appreciation to Delta.
“My daughter who is Deaf took a flight by herself! The attendant handed her this note on the plane! Delta makes it amazing!” the tweet read. More than 125 retweets and over 800 likes later, Janna’s note found itself in the social media pages of travelers around the world. This simple gesture, a means of communicating with a customer who was seeking a little independence in a world filled with adversity, was just one way Flight Attendants deliver memorable moments for millions of customers every day. For Janna, it was just her way of ensuring the safety and comfort of this young woman was in hand before they left the ground.
“I had a friend forward me a picture of my note,” Janna said. “My heart was beating so fast once I saw it, my handwriting, my name. I didn’t feel like I did anything special, I just put myself in her shoes and tried to meet her in her space.”
Janna also wanted to share some words of advice with Ashley, who left an indelible impression on her after the flight: “Keep being kind, keep being who you are. Don’t let anyone change who you are, and always do what your heart tells you.”