This Mother’s Day weekend, Seattle-based First Officer Brandon Gretch shared a special moment with his Mom! She was thrilled to fly as a passenger with Compass Airlines for the very first time and was surprised to have her son as the co-pilot on her flight. Learn more about their unique experience below:
“Flying with my mom on board made me feel proud and happy! She was so excited, snapped a lot of pictures on the flight and kept her boarding pass as a souvenir,” Brandon said. “She was assigned a window seat, so she had the opportunity to see Mt. Rainier. It was her first time in the Pacific Northwest, and I was proud to make the landing extra soft.”
Brandon knew since the age of 13 that he wanted to become a pilot. After getting denied for his first-class medical due to a residual heart condition from an open-heart surgery he had when he was younger, Brandon thought his lifelong dream to become a pilot was over. However, his mother pushed him to move forward and carry on the pursuit to accomplish his aspirations.
“My mother convinced to me not to give up. We talked with my aviation medical examiner about appeal options and spent more than a year going back and forth to doctors’ appointments, improving conditions and completing tests,” Brandon said. “When I tested again, I scored in the 96th percentile and the FAA provided me with my first-class medical.”
Throughout his college years and flight training, Brandon remembers his mother always being supportive through good and difficult times, even when they were more than 2000 miles away from each other.
“My mother has always been my biggest supporter. Her being there along the way with me throughout my journey has made me the best pilot that I could be.” Brandon said.
Los Angeles, the City of Angels, La-La Land, LA… whatever you call it, Compass Airlines is happy to call LAX one of our West Coast bases. As one of the top three busiest airports in the country, LAX provides our crews with a diverse on-the-line experience and helps prepare them for their move to the majors.
However, here at Compass we understand the need for a healthy work-life balance and the City of Los Angeles does not disappoint. Whether it be breathtaking skylines, unique food, outdoor activities or a variety of entertainment options—read further to learn more about the city, fun things to explore, and what LAX has to offer our crews!
With more than 40-years of residency in Los Angeles, Captain Andrew O’Donnell shares a wealth of knowledge about the uniqueness of the city and what it has to offer. Captain O’Donnell says it’s impossible for crews to experience boredom in Los Angeles, because there’s so much to do.
“The best thing about Los Angeles is that you don’t have to be someone you’re not. If you have a hobby that you really like to do there’s a huge chance that you can go places specifically for your hobby,” Captain O’Donnell said. “You can be an outdoor enthusiast, a movie lover, shopping addict, a surfer, or even a sailboat skipper.”
People don’t always realize that when you’re based in LAX, there’s not only exposure to the bustling downtown of Los Angeles, but also the individuality of the surrounding neighborhoods and cities.
Hollywood is the obvious go-to for all things entertainment-related ,whether it be the star-filled walk of fame or several historic theaters and music venues. West Hollywood (affectionately referred to as WeHo) offers an exciting nightlife where rainbow flags can be seen lining the streets. No surprise, WeHo hosts the LA Pride Parade every year!
Marina and Playa del Ray are popular for boating and water sports, calming even the most stressed with the serenity of the water. Long Beach is a sea port city South of Los Angeles, offering crews a more relaxed alternative if LA isn’t their specific cup of tea.
Malibu is West of Los Angeles. Besides being known for numerous celebrity homes, it tends to be the go-to spot for surfing. Being based at LAX means having numerous unique communities all within a 35-mile radius!
Being such a diverse city, it doesn’t come as a shock that Los Angeles offers top-notch dining options as well as several local watering holes. Whether a foodie, craft beer connoisseur or wine enthusiast, LA has something to offer our crews.
Captain and Assistant Chief Pilot, Luis Perea-Rodriguez likes to enjoy the diverse eateries available to him in the area listing “The Attic, El Portón, Long Beach Thai and Hak Heang” as his favorites along with his go to brewery being the very popular Ballast Point.
With more than 20 breweries and more than eight thousand restaurants within the City of Los Angeles there’s something for everyone! If all else fails, grab some fries animal style at the LAX In-and-Out and watch the planes come in to land on runway 24R.
First Officer Matthew Ayer tries to combine his passion for veganism with staying active outdoors, which he says [Los Angeles] is a major perk for people with his similar interests.
“I love being active and doing things that keep my adrenaline pumping. Since I’m vegan, I not only see the importance of cleaning eating, but exercising as well,” Matthew said. “If you’re like me and you’re very health conscious, LA is definitely the place to help support your lifestyle.”
Preferring land or sea won’t make a difference, there are plenty of outdoor activities to choose from! There’s no shortage of hiking trails within the San Gabriel mountain range just north of LA. Lime bikes and scooters make it cheap and easy to explore the area without the hassle of driving or finding an elusive parking spot. If a combination of both ocean and land is the preference, take a stroll along numerous piers and boardwalks to soak up the views and shop with local vendors.
Flight Attendant, Indaca Brown moved from Wisconsin to Los Angeles and shares how she managed to adapt well to her work hub.
“When I first moved to LA I noticed it was a huge difference from my hometown. The weather is much warmer and there’s more things to do in your leisure time,” Indaca said. One of my favorite things to do when I’m not flying is going to the beach. I find it to be very therapeutic. I love listening to the sound of the ocean and watching the sun set in the night hour.”
If you’re similar to Indaca and enjoy taking advantage of LA’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean, you can relax on the many public beaches or get a bit more adventurous with surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing opportunities all around!
Not considered the outdoorsy type? Don’t fret! Los Angeles wouldn’t be the international hub that it is without being well-rounded. There’s world famous shopping to partake in on Rodeo Drive. Family fun can be had at the renowned Universal Studios, Disneyland, LA Zoo or the Griffith Observatory. Wanting to experience the finer things in life? See live music performances at the Walt Disney Concert Hall or catch a movie premier at TCL Chinese Theatre. Classic or modern art enthusiast? Los Angeles is home to more than 20 museums, each one offering a unique art experience.
If you’re interested in Compass Airlines but not sure about making the move to Los Angeles, you’re not alone. Being new to a job and a city can be challenging for some to adjust to. Captain Amy Doolittle moved to Los Angles from the East Coast when she started with Compass back in 2016.
“I was a little concerned I wouldn’t know anyone but I realized pretty quickly how tight-knit and welcoming the Compass family is.” Captain Doolittle said.
Utilizing the company travel benefits is a top priority for Captain Doolittle. “Los Angeles is a portal to the rest of the world. You can hop on a flight out of LAX and get anywhere!”
Whether you’re a Los Angeles native or new to the city, there’s plenty to keep crews occupied in their free time, there’s something for everyone to make the city feel like home! Our recruiters and LAX crew are happy to answer any questions you have about the city. Visit our careers page to learn more about open positions in LAX! https://bit.ly/2mPS6ve
More than 30 girls from the after school enrichment program, LA’s Best, were invited to join Compass’ Flight Operations team at Women in Aviation’s annual Girls in Aviation Day. As the girls arrived at the airport, some for the first time, they were given a boarding pass to walk through security. The girls took a tour of the airport, ate lunch on an aircraft, toured the SOC, and assisted with boarding a departing flight. Compass Captain Laura Miner was thrilled to participate in the day. Read more to learn how she was impacted and was also able to leave a lasting impression on the lives of these young ladies.
Captain Miner, how did you get your start in aviation?
My father took me to visit a lot of military bases when I was younger during our road trips and that’s when I became interested in airplanes. I then went to the Aviation Camp Education (ACE Camp) while in high school and found mentors who taught me all about aviation and how to get involved. After that I was hooked on it and decided to go to college for it.
Why do you take the time each year to participate in events like Girls in Aviation Day?
I am a part of the local Los Angeles Women in Aviation group and have been a board member of the group for 4-years. This event is associated with Women in Aviation International and has been a joy to participate in. When I was younger, I had mentors and I believe it’s now my duty to pay it forward and mentor other young women interested in my career field. I look forward to these events, because it’s always a good time!
How did the day impact the young ladies who attended?
The most memorable moment of this year was at the end when a group of young girls came up and hugged me! They said thank you for such a great day and for showing us something we’ve never had the opportunity to see and experience before. One young lady also shared that after learning so much, she would like to become a pilot.
How does Girls in Aviation Day impact you?
It really is eye opening to see how one day can change someone’s life forever! Educating and providing an awareness opportunity for girls to participate in these experiences can contribute to their career path choices in the future. A previous attendee who didn’t quite know how to get into flying has moved on to gain her licenses. Seeing these girls smile, also makes me smile. It’s the least I can do to spend some time throughout my year to give back.
What do you hope that each attendee takes away with her from the day?
I hope that each girl understands that anything is possible and to not be afraid to go after what you want. Working hard will only provide you with what you dream!
For more information about pilot careers, visit compassairline.com.
Becoming a flight attendant has its share of unique perks as well as tremendous responsibilities. From traveling to some of the most beautiful cities to tending to passenger medical emergencies inflight—the role of a Flight Attendant is complex and varied. Read more to learn what keeps Compass Flight Attendant, Tomoko Klemp, energized, excited and eager to serve.
Tomoko begins her workday arriving to her base, LAX airport, an hour before her departure flight. When she arrives, she waits for her crew, assists passengers in the gate area, and completes her checklist of tasks before boarding time. Understanding that preparation is a key factor in her daily routine, Tomoko seeks to obtain as much information about her passengers prior to departure.
“If I see a mother traveling with small children, I make a mental note to help her carry her luggage and ensure that her car seat or stroller are tagged. I also make time to escort them to their seat,” Tomoko said. “My goal is always to keep the passengers’ needs first and to ensure that they have a pleasant traveling experience. I want them to feel welcomed and remain a loyal customer.”
Once Tomoko steps foot onto Compass’ Embraer-175 aircraft she begins conducting her pre-flight tasks, receives a briefing from the Captain, and coordinates passengers’ information with the gate agent. Tomoko also takes time to ensure that the aircraft is presentable, prepares pre-departure beverages, and double-checks her appearance to make sure that she always looks professional.
“Since there are numerous tasks that go into boarding my flight, I take pride in planning and preparing because I like to always be one step ahead,” Tomoko said. “My time is usually limited to five-to-ten minutes and I always want to have order within each task I complete.”
To become a Flight Attendant with Compass, qualified applicants are invited to an invitation-only informational session where they are provided with a comprehensive overview of Flight Attendant requirements and expectations. To be considered for an invitation, aspirants are asked to complete an online application beforehand. After the informational session, successful candidates will be made offers and invited to training.
“My training was a total of four weeks where I had the opportunity to dive into the particulars of what it takes become a professional and successful flight attendant,” Tomoko said. “The training was fun and intense, but I completed it with great success because of the great flight instructors and supportive classmates that I had.”
Times flies when you’re living out your passion and enjoy your work. For almost four and a half years Tomoko has remained a dedicated and loyal employee of Compass’ Flight Attendant team.
“I love flying on the Embraer-175 because it provides me with the opportunity to personally serve 76 passengers and form a sense of rapport with them,” Tomoko said. “Compass also supplies me with opportunities to grow throughout numerous areas of the company. Working as a SAFA, IOE Instructor and Linecheck Flight Attendant expands my coaching skills and leadership skills.”
Traveling across the globe with flight benefits is one of the biggest advantages that Tomoko appreciates within the Flight Attendant lifestyle. Tomoko’s favorite place to travel is Tokyo, which is the hometown of her parents.
“I love to visit Tokyo because it is where I was raised, and my parents still live there. It’s always a great time to see my parents and make new memories with them,” Tomoko said. “Maldives and South Asia are additional destinations that I like to visit because the scenery is beautiful, and the culture is extremely intriguing.”
After more than ten years of working experience as a Flight Attendant, Tomoko encourages new flight attendants to be open to diverse people and experiences and to practice juggling a variety of tasks.
“Compass is a regional airline that is full of diversity, which is great! The ability to work well with others who are different from you plays a significant role in your daily interactions with passengers,” Tomoko said. “When you become a flight attendant your job title isn’t just limited to one role. You may have to work as a server, provide first-aid assistance or even be a listening ear for a passenger. Working as Flight Attendant is bigger than unloading luggage and escorting passengers to their seats, it’s about leaving an impression and making an impact on people’s lives that they’ll always remember.
Flying for a top regional airline is within arm’s reach through the Compass Ambassador Program. Since the program’s inception last semester, 45 students have taken the first step toward a rewarding aviation career. Students pilots are given the tremendous opportunity to work part-time with Compass while working towards their ATP/RATP minimums on their college campuses. Ambassadors host informational sessions and assist with the recruiting department with events. Upon completion of the program and once minimums are met, Ambassadors are offered a First Officer position with Compass. Read more to learn why one of our participants loves the Ambassador Program and how to become an Ambassador.
As a Compass Ambassador, Deicoh Florentine appreciates her experiences and sees the position as a stepping stone to advance her career.
“I enjoy being a part of the Ambassador Program because it is a fun job and it provides me with a tremendous network at the company that I desire to fly for,” Deicoh said.
The Ambassador Program assists students in building a strong, professional career. Compass pilot recruiters search for top candidates when they hire Ambassador Program participants, because the student aviators will ultimately become Compass First Officers.
“When our program was implemented, it was created to provide promising student pilots with an inside look into our flight operations and show them how we recruit pilots,” Hannah Ross, Compass Pilot Recruiter said. “We focus on building Ambassador leadership skills, so that they become the best aviation professionals.”
To become a Compass Ambassador, students must have a private pilot’s license, an aspiration of becoming a pilot, a great GPA, and a well-organized resume. Other requirements include holding a valid first-class medical certificate.
“We’re so excited to have the Compass Ambassadors aboard our team,” Hannah said. “These young aviators are promising candidates who will serve well as Compass First Officers once their requirements are met.”
Deicoh expects to have a smooth transition into First Officer training. After completing her journey with Compass, Deicoh aspires to fly with Delta Air Lines.
“Working with Delta is my ultimate dream, because it is one of the leading major carriers. I know that working with Compass will help me to grow further into my career aspirations and help me to explore the world of commercial aviation.” Deicoh said.
Vegan and pilot are two terms that aren’t typically used interchangeably, but Compass LAX-based Captain, Matthew Ayer, shows that the two can coincide with one another well. This Men’s Health Month, Compass shares Matt’s story about becoming a vegan, how he started his popular “Veggie Pilot” blog and tips on eating clean while flying more than 36,000 feet in the air.
Captain Ayer has lived as a vegan for a year, but his love for eating mainly leafy greens started as a child vegetarian. When Captain Ayer started researching more information about dairy products and the dairy industry, he became surprised with the nutritional content that he found.
“I had already stopped eating eggs, and I was eating cheese at the time,” Captain Ayer said. “It made sense to become vegan and to stop consuming dairy altogether, because I had become a vegetarian due to my animal advocacy,” Captain Ayer tells Metro UK in an interview.
Working as a pilot and being a vegan can be a challenging experience, because there aren’t always the best food options available on the road. Additionally, the options that are available usually are not the most appetizing. The Veggie Pilot blog was created after Captain Ayer was displeased with a sandwich he ordered in LAX.
“It was one of the worst sandwiches I had ever had, and it cost $12,” Captain Ayer told Metro UK in an interview.
The Veggie Pilot blog was also created to help other aviation professionals who are vegan or vegetarian find restaurants with healthy options, and to assist with their meal planning.
“I created Veggie Pilot because I wanted to help my fellow flight attendants and pilot colleagues come up with fun and exciting meals that fit their diet,” Captain Ayer said.
In his blog, Captain Ayer includes some of the meals he packs while traveling. In a video on his blog he shares the meals he ate throughout the day. The meals he ate included home-cooked refried pinto beans with seitan and jalapeños, kale sautéed in pink Himalayan sea salt, yellow zucchini and kidney beans.
While his cooked meals sound mouthwatering, Captain Ayer’s dining adventures are just as appetizing as you can see on his Instagram feed @theveggiepilot.
Captain Ayer’s blog has provided him with a lot of internet attention, which lead to him being featured in PETA, Metro UK, and other media outlets.
From New Orleans to now calling Los Angeles—The City of Dreams home, Compass Airlines Flight Attendant Marlon Singleton shares the moment he knew that a career in the sky was perfect for him.
What inspired you to become a flight attendant with Compass Airlines?
I quickly discovered in college that Kinesiology, the major that I had chosen, was not quite my passion. I loved music, helping people, and lived my life as a socialite. When I came across the opportunity to fly for Compass, I knew that I loved to travel and would enjoy meeting new people each day. However, it wasn’t until my five-week training in Minneapolis that I saw flight attendants in a new light. The job isn’t what you see. The role is chameleon-like and I gained a new respect for the varied work that flight attendants do each day. This is why I completed the program and I’m still a flight attendant today!
“My high school counselor told me to find a career that I loved so that it wouldn’t feel like work.”
What do you love best about Compass?
Mainline carriers have approached me, but I love the small family atmosphere and camaraderie at Compass. You are not a number. I like and appreciate that! With our phones, we have the world at our fingertips, and as a flight attendant for Compass Airlines, I can literally travel the world and truly have it at my fingertips. Being a flight attendant is a lifestyle. I love the lifestyle.
“Whatever you do, do it well! At Compass, we are a team and each person needs the next one to perform well as a unit.
What would you tell children who dream a career in aviation?
Aviation is a great industry with lots of longevity! Whether you want to be a graphic designer or pilot there is a place for you. For me, coming to work at Compass each day feels like I’m going to hang out with some friends. I have the opportunity to have the entire globe at my fingertips. The opportunities are endless, and I’m glad to be a part of this amazing team and network of thinkers.
The ATP Flight School tuition reimbursement program is one of the best deals out there for aspiring commercial pilots. Through this program, Compass provides up to $11,000 in tuition reimbursement to ATP student pilots who commit to flying for Compass after completing their hours working as an ATP flight instructor. First Officer Kevin Wickstrom is a former ATP flight instructor who took advantage of this program, and below he explains why Compass and ATP were a perfect fit for him.
What is your background in aviation?
I love being in the sky. I am a third generation pilot who, like many of my friends, grew up in the industry. It took me a while to figure out this was what I was looking for, but once I went on my discovery flight in Hawaii, I was hooked.
Why did you want to fly for Compass Airlines?
Compass was my first choice when it came to deciding on a regional airline. Its West Coast base locations, fast upgrade times, and professional reputation were among the many reasons I felt Compass was a perfect fit. I was raised in Hawaii and California, so naturally the West Coast feels the most like home. The upgrade times and attrition rate to the majors also aligned with my personal career goals. I had heard that Compass produces excellent and competent pilots, that the crews are respectful and considerate of each other and their passengers, and the pilots enjoy working there. I’ve found Compass’ all of this to be true.
What made you decide to choose ATP Flight School for your training?
I was looking around at different flight schools, but what drew me to ATP was the fast pace and the direct track to the airlines. My time as an instructor was rewarding and educational on many levels, and assisted me in this next stage of my career.
Describe your experience in utilizing the tuition reimbursement program through Compass’ partnership with ATP.
The ATP tuition reimbursement program was very beneficial to me as an instructor. I think what’s most important is how it helps us on a personal level. I went through my training at ATP Phoenix, and like most students, I took out a significant chunk of change to invest in my future. This program eased some of the stress of balancing my loan and my personal expenses. It has made the transition from flight instructor to airline pilot significantly smoother.
The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey has left thousands struggling to rebuild. Compass Captain Andrew Bennett was part of a team of volunteers who visited some of the hardest hit areas after the storm, with a goal of helping local residents take the first steps towards rebuilding their lives.
Andrew and his team of volunteers focused their efforts on the towns of Aransas Pass and Rockport, both of which sustained heavy damage during Harvey. Over a weekend, Andrew and his 18-person team logged a total of 288 man hours, along side an army of others including the Red Cross, utility workers, local charities, and religious organizations.
Their work included transporting donated relief supplies, including food and water, to the people who needed them the most, along with removing debris so electric and water companies could re-establish desperately needed utilities. The group also constructed a geodesic dome, which was used for supply storage. The dome kept the much needed supplies out of the Texas sun, while also giving volunteers and others a reprieve from the heat and mosquitos.
Andrew found that working directly with disaster victims posed a unique challenge. “Some are willing to take you up on your assistance, but others are in denial or shock after living through a disaster. They’re not willing to accept help that requires removing their home or belongings if they haven’t fully accepted what has happened to them yet. You don’t want to alienate someone by approaching them the wrong way, so you have to learn how to properly communicate with people.”
While he has returned to the flight line, Andrew is already making tentative plans to return to the disaster area in the near future. He hopes to help electricians and contractors to rebuild and repair homes and other structures that were damaged during the storm.
At any given moment, there are hundreds of Compass employees working behind the scenes to ensure the safe operation of our airline. One of those individuals is dispatcher Edison Konold. A Minneapolis native and self-described “aviation nerd,” Edison was working for a commercial aircraft fueling company when he stumbled upon a Compass dispatcher opening online. One year later, he can’t imagine being anywhere else.
My first year at Compass has been extremely rewarding. I knew right away that this was going to be the professional family I was looking for. Bob Gleason, the Chief Operating Officer, personally welcomed me on day one, and I’ve felt at home ever since.”
As a dispatcher, Edison has a lot on his plate, including building flight plans. A flight plan is the route that an aircraft takes to get from its departure point to its final destination. To build a flight plan, dispatchers must take into account a number of factors, including weather conditions, airspace restrictions and airport conditions.
However, there’s more to getting a flight off the ground than building a flight plan. Before a flight can take off, Dispatch checks with Maintenance to ensure that the aircraft is safe to fly, and with Crew Scheduling to confirm that the crew assigned to the flight has had the required amount of rest and can legally operate the flight. Dispatchers are also in constant contact with Air Traffic Control for airport delays and weather updates.
“Dispatch is the heart of the airline,” explains Edison, “and communication is priority number one.”
When a dispatcher is confident that all of the pieces for a safe flight are in place—a safe flight path, a well-rested crew and a mechanically-sound aircraft—they initiate a flight release. The flight release is the legal document that allows a flight to take off, and it must be signed by both a dispatcher and the Captain of the flight. It signifies that both the dispatcher and the Captain agree that the flight can be completed legally and safely.
But things can change, even after a flight has taken off. Sometimes a flight has to deviate from its flight plan. A flight may not be able to land at its intended destination for variety of reasons, ranging from weather or airport congestion, to a sick passenger. When that happens, a dispatcher will help determine the safest course of action, which may involve rerouting the flight around weather or diverting to an alternate airport to accommodate a sick passenger. If a flight is rerouted, Dispatch determines if the aircraft has enough fuel to accommodate the extra time in the air. If not, it advises the pilots where to land for additional fuel.
All Dispatch personnel must obtain an FAA dispatch license, which includes 200 hours of training from an FAA-approved flight school. Coursework covers everything from aeronautical charts and the national airspace system, to FAA regulations and weather theory. “To work in Dispatch, you need a background in aeronautical knowledge, including charts and systems,” Edison explained. “Some of us have also meteorology degrees, which is especially helpful for weather-related aircraft routing during the winter months, as well as understanding runway conditions.”
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