From traditional to arbitrary, holidays are recognized by bringing people together to celebrate and honor what's most important to them. One of my personal favorites happens annually during the month of August with a week-long tribute to a subject I am very passionate about: aviation.
National Aviation Week is celebrated during the third week of August, which also encompasses the anniversary of Orville Wright's birth, August 19. Wright was an aviation pioneer who, together with his brother Wilbur, is credited with producing the world's first successful airplane. This week celebrating aviation is intended to increase awareness, knowledge and appreciation of aviation. While a visit to the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina will transport you to the early 1900s and the first flights, I'd like my experience as a JetBlue flight attendant to serve as an inside look into the world of commercial aviation and those who make our daily flights happen.
I was first attracted to a career in aviation because of the unbound opportunity that lay ahead; the ability to further my education while seeing the world was well worth chasing down and making a reality. Being able to read about people, places and things in a classroom is one thing, but to go somewhere and experience it firsthand brings the notion of "seeing is believing" to life. To me, flight is a gateway. The sense of freedom, adrenaline and excitement that comes with knowing you're going to end your day in a new place is invigorating. Knowing that the same journey could otherwise take days is an aspect I truly appreciate.
Whether a frequent flier or an occasional occupant, a lot of work goes into you taking your seat and being transported to a new destination. As a flight attendant, customers often see me and my team members as the face of the airline. While flattering, the crewmembers who truly make daily flights happen start at the booking stage and earlier. Though online bookings are increasingly popular, reservation crewmembers play an important role in accommodating customers over the phone and at the airport desk. Crewmembers on the ground, from airport operations, gate agents and baggage handlers to the inflight crew, of course including pilots, all work together to make JetBlue's 850 daily flights among 86 cities possible. Even further behind-the-scenes are the route planners who determine flight patterns, schedules and frequency. These crewmembers listen to everything from customer insights and feedback to macro-environmental factors, such as the price of fuel, when it comes to planning new routes and destinations.
My time as a flight attendant has granted me the opportunity to travel to some of these unique destinations across the country and globe. I shamelessly find one of the most fun things to do once I land is to simply look back up into the sky for plane spotting! Washington, D.C.'s Dulles and New York City's JFK are both international hotspots which bring in different carriers and aircrafts you're likely not used to seeing or flying. The different names and tailfin artwork are captivating and a great conversation point for in-tune travelers. On the ground (or the beach) in Nantucket, Massachusetts or St. Bart's in the Caribbean are the perfect places for seeing small, lighter aircrafts -- you may even feel your hair get swept back by the force of them passing overhead! No matter where you're plane spotting, simply looking up or out can give you a sense of wonder and appreciation for flying that otherwise may be taken for granted.
This National Aviation Week, take a moment to glance up at the sky and reflect on the past, present and future of air travel and all those who make it possible. And if you find yourself in an airport, note the individuals who contribute on the front lines and behind the scenes. Happy Birthday, Orville Wright!