On an American Eagle flight from Dallas to Garden City, KS, we were in the hands of a jovial and talkative flight attendant. His name was TJ, and I was able to get a picture of him while he served a beverage to the passengers on this 90-minute flight.

The Greet!
Upon boarding the small aircraft on this bright sunny afternoon, TJ was at the front of the door welcoming passengers. “How are you?” “Welcome onboard!” “Those bags do look heavy!” It was obvious that TJ had a way with words.

The Pre-flight Announcement
Most of us who fly frequently are used to the standard policies that are covered before the aircraft heads out to the runway. We are reminded to shut down all electronic devices, how to buckle our seatbelts, and what to do in case of an emergency. Many flight attendants have the instructions memorized, while others carry a cheat sheet they read while outside the view of the passengers.

TJ took an amusing approach to the announcement. He began by saying: “You know I was a cruise director for 18 years before becoming a flight attendant.” He didn’t stop there! For the next five minutes we learned about the famous people who he met on American flights, including the Harlem Globetrotters. He also gave a pretty detailed history of the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Airport.

I observed that many of the passengers wanted TJ to complete his message so they could have quiet time. This was not his style, however. He kept on talking, and talking, and talking.

The Flight
I was able to get about 10-minutes of sleep before I heard TJ’s blaring voice asking passengers if they needed anything from the overhead. He made his way from the front of the airplane to the back, “Let me know if you need anything from up here. I’ll get it for you.” Only one passenger took him up on the request: “Sir, may I get my backpack?” “Sure, young man, but first let me ask mommy if that is okay. You know that she is the boss.”

After serving the drinks, TJ had the beverage cart in tow heading back to the front of the aircraft, but it took quite a long time to get there. He struck up a conversation with an elderly couple, and they shared several long stories. From what I could tell, TJ was doing most of the talking.

The Lesson

I must admit that TJ’s approach was a bit over the top for me. However, the more I observed how he handled his work, the more he grew on me. I could tell that he liked his job. He went beyond the minimum expectations. His jokes were oldies, but at least he tried to make us laugh.

I’m writing about TJ because he was different. The next time I cross paths with a rude flight attendant, I will remember how hard TJ worked to make the short flight to Garden City a pleasant experience.

He said to me, “Sir, I don’t have an entire can of Diet Coke, but I can serve you an entire can of Diet Pepsi. Will that work for you?”

Thanks, TJ!