December 13, 2012

A Day in the Life: Airport Operations

Welcome to A Day in the Life, where we take you behind the scenes at JetBlue to learn more about the important jobs that work in concert together to run a major airline. This time, we visit with Rachel on our Airport Operations team at JFK who have one of the most customer-facing jobs at our airline.

Rachel starts each shift with a crew briefing behind the scenes at our Terminal 5 at JFK. The shift leader Ricardo gives an overview of the day’s operations, any special items the team should be aware of, and hands out assignments. Rachel works gate-side (some airport operations crewmembers work pre-security at the ticket counters or assisting in the ticketing area or at baggage services. Her assignment for the day is Gate 16. She picks up a headset and heads to her gate to prep for her first flight.

“It’s good to get to the gate an hour before the first flight to leave enough time to set up,” Rachel says. She is responsible for ensuring a timely and orderly boarding process for our customers. As soon as she arrives at the gate, regardless of how early she might be, a barrage of requests find her immediately. Someone wants to change their seat; another is a pilot from another airline wanting to be added to the standby list; a lost customer needs guidance on how to get to baggage claim. Rachel gracefully assists each request; all while logging into the computer and prepping the paperwork for her flight.

When the plane arrives at her gate and the customers deplane, Rachel hops onto the aircraft to check that it has been cleaned and stocked with provisions (all of those free and unlimited snacks that you enjoy), and returns to the gate to print the paperwork for the flight crew. She greets the captain, first officer and inflight crewmembers, checks their IDs and hands them paperwork that let them know flight details like how many customers are onboard and whether there are any special assists like wheelchairs, unaccompanied minors, or groups traveling. She prepares bag tags to check gateside luggage like strollers and wheelchairs and bags too large to fit on the plane, and has that ready to go when it’s time for the flight to start boarding.

Rachel makes several announcements to the gate area to let customers know that the flight is getting ready to board and then begins the boarding process, checking customers in with a smile and an air of awareness. When all customers have boarded, including last minute stragglers that she ensures are onboard for a on-time departure, she makes her way down the jetbridge for a final face-to-face communication with the crew on the plane. She confirms that they’re all set, closes the aircraft door, and pushes the jetbridge back from the aircraft. The pilots wave to Rachel from the cockpit as the tug pushes the plane back and onto the taxiway.

Rachel finalizes her paperwork, closing out the flight, and it’s time to get started on the next flight. Every day is different and the types of flights vary. There are myriad factors she needs to be aware of: what customers are connecting from an international partner airline; where the crew is (whether arriving from another flight or originating at JFK); what special needs customers may have (calling for a wheelchair to assist someone); any weather or operational updates that may impact flight times or where the scheduled aircraft may be; random TSA security checks. It’s the diversity of tasks that interests Rachel. More than anything, though, what Rachel says she likes best are the people. Though it’s not always easy, particularly during peak travel times or challenging operations like weather events that delay or cancel flights, Rachel maintains her helpful demeanor and perspective that “tomorrow is another day.” Above all, she understands how far a friendly smile and a helpful attitude can go towards making our customers happy and making her job most pleasant.

Rachel is extremely bubbly and sweet, and that personality is evident in her interactions with fellow crewmembers and with customers. She is jokingly called the mayor of JetBlue at JFK because she says hello to everyone and almost every crewmember walking by, no matter how busy, waves hello to her.

“I feel like I grew up here,” Rachel relays, and she’s not exaggerating. She celebrates 11 years with JetBlue this January, almost as long as JetBlue has been flying the skies. She worked for United at Terminal 6 at JFK and saw a little airline in the corner with a single ticket counter. She observed JetBlue’s growth and its friendly customer service that resonated with customers and knew it was somewhere she wanted to work.

When asked what she might do after JetBlue, she tsks at the question and says, “I’m a lifer.” She believes that she’s grown a great deal during her decade-long tenure at JetBlue and looks forward to continuing to mature alongside the airline.

Check out the previous editions of A Day In The Life and meet:

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25 Comments on “A Day in the Life: Airport Operations”

  • Posted by conrado dimapilis on December 13, 2012 at 6:34 pm


  • Posted by Kenneth Coffman on December 15, 2012 at 1:12 am

    That’s my little girl. We’re so proud of you.

  • Posted by Kevin Patrick Crowley on December 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Awesome Job Rachel! Can’t tell you how much I have appreciated all your help getting on flights over the years. I know that our external Customers appreciate everything that you do, but so do our INTERNAL Customers such as myself!

  • Posted by Dan Sullivan on December 18, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Congratulations Rachel! You DO work hard and I’m glad you are getting some nice recognition. Thank for all the times you have launcehed me. Each time was done professionally and was a wonderful experience for me and my crew. Thanks and Happy Holidays!


    Dan Sullivan
    JFK A-320 Captain

  • Posted by Yessid Silva-Irizarry on December 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    One of jetblue’s finest people and crewmembers. My Hawaiian princess is a true asset to JFK- ysilva-Irizarry (Former JFK AO)

  • Posted by Yessid Silva-Irizarry on December 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Truely a beautiful human being

  • Posted by Nigel Chung on December 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Rachel – you are a true asset to our company and one of JetBlue’s finest. I am so proud of you and the memories we shared while working at JFK.

  • Posted by Jillian Ruffino on December 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    You’re a STAR Abobo!!!

  • Posted by Jorge Pina on December 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    We all love you, here at JFK. Congratulations !!!!!!

  • Posted by Delilah G on December 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Rachel is such an amazing individual and as far as a crewmember, one of the elite and best in my book. She is the perfect crewmember to follow when it comes to Airport Operations. From day one, she has carried the values and it is seen in her actions and I am honored to be part of the JFK JetBlue family with her as she has taught me a lot in becoming a better crewmember. :)You rock, Rachel!!!!!

  • Posted by Errol on December 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Her hair is not pulled back as per the uniform compliance. Whats up with that? No consistency at JetBlue.

  • Posted by Paul U on December 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Keep up the commitment. Your such an inspiration. I can’t wait to get cross-trained to AO. Congratulations!!!!!!!

  • Posted by Pedro De Los Santos on December 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Congratulations Rachel!!! You are a great person and always have been.

  • Posted by Bruce G. on December 18, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Rachel is such a professional . Again , she is an incredible asset to the AO operation . Always knowledgeable and kind . I have known her for 9 years and have never seen her lose it ,she is the BEST . Congratulations Rachel on 11 years with Blue ! You are a wonderful person !

  • Posted by robb on December 19, 2012 at 6:21 am

    my favorite ao crewmember system wide!

  • Posted by John on December 19, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Rachel is not only the “Mayor Of Jetblue”, she is also one of the sweetest people ive met at JFK. She makes me proud to say Im part of a great Company that imbodies a great work culture. She Safely Cares and shows tremendous Integrity with Passion and Fun. Looking beautiful as always Abobo .. keep up the good work!

  • Posted by Craig Kamen on December 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Thank you for teaching me how to operate the jet bridge at JFK eight years ago. Still going strong at the gate here in DEN!

    Craig Kamen

  • Posted by Juan on December 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Rachel is so dedicated and professional! She is always smiling and is such a great pleasure to work with! Keep it up Rachel!!!

  • Posted by Stacie on December 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    It is a pleasure to know and work with Rachel. She is the perfect representative to follow in order to experience a day in the life of a T5 gate agent. Yes Rachel you do ROCK!!!!

  • Posted by Vanessa Sampson on January 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Rachel is a very hard working and dedicated crewmember. She is a great asset to JetBlue, keep up the great work Rachel. See you at JFK:-)!

  • Posted by Patrick Callao on January 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Rachel is amazing, we are proud of you.

  • Posted by Ramiro Bermudez on January 15, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Rachel is the best! You rock Rachel!!!!!

  • Posted by Miguel Bernal on January 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Rachel has been and will always be the best crewmember I know!!!

  • Posted by Alex Martinez on January 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Great job Rachel, this spotlight couldnt have gone to a sweeter, nicer, professional crewmember. ;-)

  • Posted by Richie on January 18, 2013 at 1:01 am

    Great job Rachel. Love, love, love jet blue. Wish all airlines where as good. Keep up the great work.

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