On this date in 2007, Compass’s first revenue flight took off from Washington-Dulles, bound for Minneapolis. At that time, our fleet and route map looked quite a bit different than they do now. From April through August of 2007, our “fleet” consisted of just one CRJ200 that flew two daily round trips between IAD and MSP.
That lone CRJ200 was our entire fleet, until the E175, the aircraft that would become synonymous with the Compass name, came online in August of 2007.
In a message to employees to mark the 10-year anniversary, President and CEO Rick Leach outlined the remarkable growth that the company has seen in just 10 short years.
“That sole CRJ200 with just two daily round trips has grown into a fleet of 56 Embraer 175s operating over 280 daily departures to over 40 destinations. We’ve transitioned from flying exclusively as Northwest Airlink/Delta Connection to serving two codeshare partners. Our 2015 partnership with American Airlines to operate 20 new Embraer 175s increased our fleet size by 47% in less than a year, and resulted in a 36% increase in passenger traffic between 2015 and 2016. We’re 2,000+ employees strong, and on track to carry over 6.5 million passengers in 2017. Not bad for one of the youngest regionals out there!”
To commemorate the big anniversary, special employee events, including cookouts and luncheons have been held system-wide over the past month. The anniversary events will conclude with a gala event in Minneapolis at the end of May. There are 43 founding members of the Compass family still working with us, and Rick Leach is looking forward to thanking each of them for their contributions to our airline.
This spring, two Compass flight attendants spent their vacation time doing something decidedly different than relaxing on a beach or catching up on sleep. Judy Champa and Sarah Perdue used their vacation time to travel to Guatemala and help build a house for a family in need.
Judy and Sarah traveled to Guatemala as part of the God’s Child Project, a non-denominational initiative dedicated to fighting poverty around the globe. God’s Child’s work in Guatemala includes the Dreamer Center in the city of Antigua, which provides health care, education, and crisis intervention services to the local population, as well as Casa Jackson, a hospital that cares for severely malnourished infants and children. God’s Child also operates a homeless shelter, an orphanage, a drug treatment center, and numerous other educational programs for impoverished children across Guatemala. Volunteers from all over the world travel to Guatemala to help God’s Child provide services ranging from feeding and rocking babies, to teaching orphans and building homes.
Judy and Sarah were part of a team of God’s Child volunteers tasked with building a home for a family, who was at the time, living in a hut made of sugarcane stalks with a dirt floor. It took a lot of hard work, but the team was able to finish the family’s new home in just three days.
On day one, the volunteers dug a trench for the house’s foundation, which was made of three layers of brick and mortar.
On day two, wood was cut to frame the house, and volunteers mixed and poured concrete for the floor. “All tools were powered by pure muscle,” Judy said. “Mixing concrete by hand is an arduous job but well worth it – a concrete floor versus a dirt floor can cut disease by up to 70%,” she added.
On day three, the volunteers put the finishing touches on the house, including the signature blue paint that identifies houses built by the God’s Child organization. A door and window were installed, as well as gutters to guide the rain away from the new home.
“Turning over the house was quite emotional for the family, as well as for volunteers,” Judy said. “The family presented each volunteer with a handmade card expressing their gratitude for their hard work.”
In addition to building the home, the volunteers took advantage of their time in Guatemala to tour the local God’s Child facilities, including the Dreamer Center and Casa Jackson. They also distributed clothing to about 200 families (clothing for donation is brought by the many volunteers in their checked bags), and served dinner to the homeless at the project’s Santa Madre Homeless Shelter.
Both Judy and Sarah plan to return to Guatemala next March, and encourage anyone interested in volunteering to join them. International volunteer work is a great fit for airline employees, as most organizations require volunteers to pay for their own airfare. Sarah and Judy used their flight benefits to fly to Guatemala, and each paid just over $50 each way. Judy flew on American (RNO/LAX/MIA/GUA), while Sarah flew American on the way there (DFW/GUA), and Delta on the way back (GUA/ATL).
To learn more about how you can get involved with this worthy organization, please visit godschild.org.
Our Tech Ops team works tirelessly to ensure that our operation is safe, efficient, and on-time. An invaluable member of that team is Los Angeles (LAX) Maintenance Base Administrator, Tatyana Gogova. Recently Tatyana was the recipient of a Compass Airlines “Above and Beyond” award for going beyond what her job requires of her to provide outstanding service to her co-workers.
“Tatyana is pivotal to the functionality of the LAX Tech Ops team,” remarked Bo Curtis, the Director of Quality at Compass. “She works tirelessly to ensure that our mechanics are shielded from distractions so they can focus on providing the best possible product to our passengers.” In addition to ordering mechanic uniforms and handling payroll for the Compass LAX maintenance group, Tatyana also helps recruit new mechanics and assists with interviews. Additionally, Tatyana has voluntarily undertaken the monumental task of coordinating Los Angeles Airport SIDA badges for Compass employees that need them.
A Security Identification Display Area badge, or SIDA badge, gives employees access to the secure side of the airport, as well as the ramp area. SIDA badges are very tightly controlled, and each SIDA badge that is issued requires multiple appointments with LAX airport authorities, as well as extensive paperwork, training and a background check. If a Compass employee needs a LAX SIDA badge, Tatyana walks them through the process, start to finish.
“It’s complicated,” Tatyana admits. “I make an appointment for each applicant to go to LAX to and have their fingerprints taken, and then they must wait for clearance. Once an employee is approved, I train them on what their SIDA badge allows them to do. I then set up another appointment for them to actually receive their badge.” Tatyana does all this not only for Compass LAX maintenance employees, but for all Compass employees who need a LAX SIDA badge.
Given the extent of her efforts, it’s no surprise that Tatyana was nominated for an Above & Beyond award. When she found out that she had won in the Tech Ops category, she was surprised and excited, remarking,
“It was amazing, and I was super surprised! But it’s easy to work with people when you’re friends. Our work is very critical, but no matter how much we have to do, it always goes smoothly if we all get along and understand each other.”
Originally from Bulgaria, Tatyana speaks four languages, including English, Bulgarian, Russian, and Arabic. In her free time, Totyana loves to travel, which is what led her to pursue a career in aviation. An airline employee to her core, she loves to use to use her travel benefits, and in her free time, she’s usually on a plane. In fact, she loves being in the air so much that she recently started working on her private pilot’s license, and hopes to fly commercially in the future.
With her incredible work ethic and genuine love of flying, Tatyana represents the values that drive us as a company. We have no doubt that she’ll achieve anything that she puts her mind to!
With a route map stretching from coast to coast and into Canada and Mexico, working for Compass can equate to some pretty incredible sightseeing opportunities for our crew members. This month, two of our pilots, Chad Rabinowitz and John Burris, took advantage of an overnight layover in Fairbanks, Alaska to catch the start of the iconic Iditarod dog sled race. The famed event usually starts in the town of Willow, Alaska, after a ceremonial start in Anchorage, but poor track conditions required organizers to move the start to Fairbanks for only the third time in the race’s history.
“We couldn’t believe our luck when we found out that our layover in Fairbanks would coincide with the start of the most famous dog sled race in the world,” Chad remarked. “The number of people who braved sub-zero temperatures to watch the 60+ teams start their 1,000 mile journey was a pretty incredible sight.”
As it turns out, Chad and John were on hand for the start of what would become an historic one-two finish. Father and son duo Mitch and Dallas Seavey came in first and second, with Mitch coming in two and a half hours ahead of his son, Dallas. In addition to becoming the only father and son duo to claim the two top spots in the same year, Mitch and Dallas are both the oldest and youngest winners in the event’s history. At 57, Mitch is the oldest ever winning Iditarod driver. Dallas holds the record as the youngest driver to win the Iditarod, having won it in 2012 at the age of 25.
Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, and its “Kings Class” fan experience gives Kings devotees the opportunity to engage with the team and players in a whole new way. Kings Class elevates the game experience beyond the stands, giving pre-registered fans the chance to win behind-the-scenes access to games and special events.
Last week, over 100 enthusiastic Kings fans participated in the first Kings Class event of the season, a discussion and Q & A featuring two-time LA Kings Stanley Cup Champion Jarret Stoll and LA Kings alumni Daryl Evans, Derek Armstrong and Jaroslav Modry. The hockey legends chatted with fans, shared stories about their playing days and discussed the current season.
Four fans at the event were randomly selected for the event’s ultimate prize – a trip to Denver the very next day to watch the Kings take on the Colorado Avalanche. The total prize package included round-trip, First Class air travel to Denver for each winner and a guest, as well as overnight hotel accommodations and limited edition, Kings-branded Tumi luggage.
The lucky fans, accompanied by Jarret Stoll and Daryl Evans, headed to Denver bright and early the next morning, on a Delta Connection flight operated by Compass. The entire First Class cabin was reserved for the group, and special Kings swag was waiting on each of their seats.
The fans were greeted by an excited Compass crew, all sporting Kings lanyards for the occasion.
After an on-time departure, the group flew to Denver in style, where they cheered on the Kings to a 2-1 victory over the Avalanche.
The next Kings Class event will be on March 30, and the next Kings Class trip will be to a Vancouver Canucks game on March 31. Click here to register for your chance to be a part of it.
Becoming a commercial airline pilot requires a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. No one knows that better than First Officer Marlon Dayes, whose journey to the Compass flight deck was fraught with challenges. “Whenever I tell other pilots about how I got here, a lot of them get emotional and express how proud they are of me,” Marlon says.
Marlon was born in Jamaica, where he was raised by a single mother. “We didn’t have much, but my mother always told me to believe, because we would find a way.” When Marlon was five, he took his first airplane ride to the United States. The pilots showed him the cockpit, and he was hooked. He was going to be a pilot. He would find a way.
Six years ago, Marlon moved to the United States, where he hoped to find a better life and study aviation. Eventually, all of the pieces fell into place, and he was given the opportunity to study aviation at Florida Institute of Technology.
“At first, I struggled to find the finances for school, but many miracles and blessings fell upon me, allowing me to receive world class aviation training.”
After finishing his degree in Aviation Management with an airline pilot focus, Marlon reached ATP minimums by working as a flight instructor at FIT Aviation, LLC, a flight school affiliated with his alma mater.
When the time came to apply for a commercial airline job, Marlon knew that he wanted to fly the Embraer 175, which made his decision to interview with Compass an easy one. Now he’s a Los Angeles-based First Officer, flying the Embraer 175 in some of the world’s busiest air space. As a new commercial pilot, one of his biggest challenges was learning to follow Air Traffic Control’s speed assignments, then slowing down quickly and configuring for landing. “Flying commercially has taught me to plan way ahead, as well as to think and react faster,” he remarked.
One of the things about Compass that impresses Marlon the most is its commitment to safety.”It’s in my DNA now to always make safety my number one priority. The safety culture at Compass is amazing.”
While Marlon admits that it was challenging to adjust to the Embraer 175 after flight instructing in a light twin engine aircraft, his fellow pilots have mentored him every step of the way and are committed to his success.
I’ve had very good mentors. Compass is my first real crew environment, and I’ve been blessed to fly with good Captains that value teamwork, as well as my input. Starting my flying career here at Compass has been nothing short of a dream come true.”
We received the below note from one of our passengers, who was blown away the kindness she was shown by a Compass crew on a recent flight. The passenger had received the worst possible news – her mother had suffered a stroke, and had only hours to live. She desperately wanted to get from Los Angeles to the hospital in Houston in time to say good by. However, her flight to Houston was delayed because another passenger was experiencing a medical emergency. She told a flight attendant about her situation and hoped for the best. As she relays below, the personal response that she received from our flight crew during the delay was beyond anything that she had ever experienced.
On December 3 of 2016, I received a phone call letting me know that my mother had less that 24 hours to live. She had suffered a severe stroke and it was imperative that I go to Houston immediately. I made my way to LAX and boarded the first flight I could get. We had left the gate and were taxiing toward the runway when a passenger took ill. It was decided that they should be taken off the plane.
I wrote a note which I gave to the flight attendant explaining that I understood about the emergency, but if there was any way to expedite the process, I would appreciate it as every minute counted. What happened next was so kind, touching, and heartfelt, that it has brought endless tears to my eyes … and those same tears to the eyes of everyone with whom I’ve shared this story.
A pilot came and spoke with me directly, introducing himself as Captain Seth Dunmyer. He thanked me for my patience and told me that they were doing everything they could. Shortly after that, a flight attendant asked me to come with her. She wanted me closer to the exit door. She took down my bag and I followed her to my new seat in First Class. I was given a box of tissues and made to feel comfortable. Once safely in the air, I was given a handwritten note. I would like to share with you the contents of that note:
My name is Seth Dunmyer. I am your Captain on your flight this evening to Houston. First off, I want to thank you for your understanding and patience during the delay we experienced on the ground in Los Angeles. The passenger was in need of medical care according to an on board physician, and was unable to continue to Houston. Thank you again!
I also want to express my condolences to you and your family as you are all rushing to be by her side in the hospital. I promise you we are going to get you there as safely and quickly as possible.
I am not sure if you are a person who believes in God or not, but in these times … I wanted you to know that I have already said a prayer for your mother, and I do believe he will be looking over her. I believe I can speak for the entire crew in wishing the best for you, your mother, and your family as you all deal with this difficult situation.
With Deepest Sympathy,
Captain Seth Dunmyer
If we’re living in a world where acts of kindness will have increased value, Captain Dunmyer and his crew have taken that to heart. No amount of advertising, PR, well-placed articles, or high-end videos can begin to compare to the profound heart and soul of the words and actions of Captain Dunmyer and his American Eagle crew.
Congratulations to you, and all the men and women at American Airlines, for the magnificent company you’ve created.
By the way, Mom is still with us. We are calling her Miracle Mary. Thank you for your prayers, Captain Dunmyer.
When asked what compelled the crew to show such compassion to this passenger, Captain Dumnyer replied,
“Carol was a person in need of support in such a tragic moment. We wanted Carol to know that her entire family was in our thoughts and prayers, and that we were going to make sure we got her to Houston to see her mother.”
We couldn’t be prouder of the kindness and humanity shown by these Compass employees.
One of the best things about working in the airline industry is the travel benefits. Airline employees are fortunate to have a wide range of affordable air fare options available to them, ranging from free domestic travel, to heavily discounted international travel. As a result, airline families tend to travel a lot, and children from airline families often develop a love for travel at young age. When those children grow into teenagers afflicted by wanderlust, they can spend up to two weeks in another country as part of a special program for airline families called the International Youth Exchange.
The International Youth Exchange pairs up teens from airline families in different countries and gives them each the opportunity to spend two weeks with the family they are matched with. After a participant spends two weeks with a host family, they return home, and the teen they were matched with stays with them for two weeks.
Participants are matched based on similarities in age, gender, and interests, as well as where they would like to visit. Available locations include the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia. After the teens are matched and dates are decided, the participants communicate with one another so that they can get to know each other, as well as decide what activities they would like to do during their summer exchange.
The International Youth Exchange is the brainchild of Camille Wheeler, a retired Northwest Airlines employee, and the mother of Compass Airlines Captain Aaron Wheeler. Camille is the mother of four, and international travel for a family of six can be expensive, even with pass benefits. On the International Youth Exchange website, Camille explains that the program was born from her desire for her children to be able to affordably travel abroad, learn different languages, and experience new cultures. Aaron says that his mom first got the idea for the program when his family took a trip to France when he was younger. She was looking for different options to avoid hotel costs, and began making connections with other airline families abroad.
Camille soon realized that there were other airline families all over the world who were interested in affordable international travel opportunities for their children. The program slowly began to take shape. Teens could fly overseas using their parents’ pass privileges, and stay for free for two weeks with an airline host family. Then the teens would switch, and a teen from host family could visit the other teen’s home during a separate two week visit.
In 1994, Camille connected with a Swiss Air gate agent in Geneva, Switzerland, and young Aaron became the first participant in the International Youth Exchange program. He was matched with a Swiss teen, Greg Cunnet, who was around the same age, and shared his interests. “When Greg came to visit, we just hung out, played baseball and biked,” Aaron recalls. When Aaron and Greg first met, Greg was only beginning to learn English. “Since he grew up traveling in airplanes, he would always read the safety instructions. In fact, the first time that we met, all he could say in English was, ‘Fast-ten-seat-belt.'”
After Greg stayed with his family, Aaron visited Geneva and stayed with Greg’s family. Aaron recalls mostly doing things that were familiar to him from back home. “We went swimming, biked around town, and even played Monopoly. Even a young age, I was struck by how we had more in common than not, even though we lived so far apart.” Aaron and Greg continued to visit each other for 7 years through the program, and are still friends. “We still visit each other when we can,” Aaron said. “I even went to his wedding about a year and a half ago.”
The International Youth Exchange has come a long way from its one inaugural participant in 1994. It has since placed over 6,000 students in exchanges. “In 1994,” jokes Aaron, “we just had a single fax machine running twenty-four-seven. We would get applications from Europe in the middle of the night! But now, applicants can apply online.”
Aaron continues to help his mother with the program, who is now devoted to it full-time. “I actually matched a young boy from Minneapolis,” recalls Aaron, “and his mom happened to be my gate agent for a while. Every couple of months, we would bump into each other, and she would say how much her son enjoyed the experience.” He recounts another story from years ago, in which a young person was matched up with a family in Seattle. The father of the family flew for an airline in the area. The program participant loved Seattle so much, that years later, he got in touch with the father and ended up working for that same airline.
Aaron’s experiences with the International Youth Exchange have stayed with him through the years, and he encourages other airline families to take advantage of the opportunities for travel and friendship that the program offers. “I truly believe that there is no better way to experience another country than with someone your own age,” he says.
The International Youth Exchange is currently accepting applications for new exchanges. Visit their website to learn more and apply online.
Los Angeles-based Flight Attendant Deborah Gorney has found a pretty remarkable way to give back to the community in her spare time. For the past 7 years, she’s been part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Volunteer Mounted Unit with her horse, Luke. These trained volunteers act as “extra eyes” for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, providing mounted observation patrols everywhere from busy mall parking lots to high school sporting events. The mounted volunteers also appear with the Sheriff’s department at community outreach events and school visits.
Each December, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sponsors a number of Santa appearances in the communities it serves. Several years ago, Deborah’s volunteer work took a festive turn when she was asked to assume the role of Mrs. Claus at these annual events. In this guest post, Deborah relates what it’s like to spend her Decembers as Mrs. Claus, and why the experience has meant so much to her.
I have been working with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for many years now. I started in the mounted unit doing trail patrols, as well as appearing at law enforcement events in the school and community with my Sheriff horse, Luke.
One day, my Sergeant approached me and asked if I would become the department’s Mrs. Santa Claus. He and his wife had been playing Santa and Mrs. Claus, but they they were retiring, and the department needed a new team. Of course I agreed! My Lieutenant and long time friend, Karl Claas, agreed to be Santa so that we could be a team. It was going to be so wonderful making thousands of children happy during the Christmas season!
During these events, Santa and Mrs. Claus ride a sleigh pulled by a Sheriff department truck. We are escorted by many Deputy Sheriffs in their patrol cars. They let the kids know we’re on our way by flashing their horns, making announcements over the PA system, and sounding their horns and sirens.
We do this for three weeks in December, almost every night. We have anywhere from 12-18 stops per night, and we cover the areas Palos Verdes, Lomita, and San Pedro. Each night, about 400 to 500 children visit us. They sit on our laps and tell us what they would like for Christmas. The little ones usually prefer to sit on Mrs. Claus’ lap because Santa can be a little intimidating when you’re little. Besides, everyone knows that Mrs. Claus loves babies!
Santa and I love making the children happy. Their eyes sparkle when they see us and, it’s priceless! However, Santa and I have also heard many sad things from young children. Some children have asked Santa and I to bring them shoes, because they didn’t have any. Others only wanted a little Christmas tree because their families couldn’t afford one. Some just want their parents to stop fighting. Others just wanted us to talk to their mom in heaven for them.
One day, Santa and I decided to do something to help these children. We started keeping track of children in need and asked Deputies to get their addresses. With the Sheriffs station’s help, we would get them the things they needed so desperately.
It didn’t stop there! We started getting requests to visit families who had children with disabilities that wouldn’t allow them to come see us on the sleigh. Of course, we went to their homes and brought them gifts! We also started getting requests to make appearances at different events and at schools for special needs children and adults alike.
Sometimes our days go from early in the morning to late at night. But it’s for such a wonderful cause! During a recent event, we visited a military base and brought toys to the children of active duty military personnel. We love making children of all ages happy. It is the most rewarding experience ever. We would not trade it for anything.
When I was younger, Christmas was always my favorite time of the year. Now I understand that together, we can make a difference in children’s lives over the holidays.
With Love from Santa and Mrs. Claus
From Mrs. Claus and the entire Compass team, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season!
“For many, the holidays are a fun time that involve spending time with family, and giving and receiving gifts,” explains Compass First Officer Laura Miner, who is also the President of the Los Angeles Chapter of Women in Aviation. “But the holidays can be really hard for families who are struggling financially.” When her Women in Aviation chapter adopted a family for Christmas through the Cathedral of our Lady the Angels program, Laura saw a great opportunity to team up with Compass to do even more good. Laura got Compass involved, and with the additional support, the groups were able to adopt an additional family.
Laura’s fellow Compass employees rallied to the cause, and pitched in to purchase clothing, toys and household items for the two families – a family of three, and another family of five, including a little girl with heart disease.
Last Saturday, Compass employees spent the day at Pacific Skies Aviation, where they wrapped toys for the families they adopted, as well as helped out with Pacific Skies’ annual Toy Drive.
Laura said that the best part of the toy drive was seeing Compass employees get so excited about helping the adopted families. “Everyone wanted to make sure that Christmas was special for them,” she added
We are honored to have been part of such a special event! To learn more about how you can get involved in the Cathedral of our Lady of the Light’s Adopt A Family program, please click here.