PDX People: Four Stories of Extraordinary Customer Service

Being respectful – a core value for PDX People – means acknowledging that each person’s experience and abilities are different and being empathetic and flexible enough to use an individualized approach.

From passengers accidentally ending up in the wrong Portland airport to guests needing extra support during stressful travel with elderly family members, PDX People stepped up to help with inclusivity and consideration in mind.

To recognize actions that truly stand out as extraordinary, we host the PDX People customer service awards each quarter. Below are the airport employees we recognized from April through June 2022.

Jeremiah Pacheco
Salima McRae
Matt Rosales

Port of Portland

Said Mehamli
TSA

Left to right: Jeremiah Pacheco, Salima McRae, Matt Rosales and Said Mehamli

Jeremiah Pacheco (he/him) came across two travelers trying to reach Portland, Maine. The duo – traveling from Phoenix and originally from the Congo – were inadvertently booked to PDX by mistake. Neither spoke English and neither had enough money to purchase another ticket.

Jeremiah spent a considerable amount of time piecing together the details of their situation using a translator app on his phone. He got them snacks and made sure they were comfortable while they waited for assistance.

His colleagues Salima McRae (she/her) and Matt Rosales (he/him) were quick to step in and help. Jeremiah also recruited TSA agent – and fluent French speaker – Said Mehamli (he/him) to assist with translation.

Salima worked with the airlines to secure seats using the travelers’ limited funds while Matt scoured the internet trying to find the best flight deals. Additionally, Jeremiah got approval to donate funds to help the tired travelers get to the East Coast.

As the manager submitting the nomination said, “The determination of Jeremiah, and the teamwork provided by Salima, Matt and Said should not be taken for granted and is a testament to the work ethic associated with PDX People.”

Jeroen Bush
McGee Air Service

Jeroen Bush

Jeroen Bush (he/him) was on his break when he noticed a passenger fall ill, faint and become very sick. He quickly called the PDX Communication Center to report the emergency and provided vital information to assist the paramedics with the passenger’s care.

While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, Jeroen stood by and comforted the passenger. When it became clear that the passenger was in no shape to travel, he took it upon himself to track down the passenger’s checked baggage and have it removed from the aircraft prior to its departure.

A fellow PDX employee nominated Jeroen and said, “He didn’t have to stop and help in this situation, yet he sacrificed his own break time to help a passenger in need.”

Susan Chun
Alaska Airlines

Susan Chun

After going the extra mile to provide a passenger with excellent and respectful service, Susan Chun (she/her) received this letter of thanks:

“I am writing to express our gratitude for Alaska Airlines customer service agent, Susan. Susan went above and beyond to help my 80-year-old mother reach her destination. We’ve experienced decades of wonderful service with Alaska and have so much appreciation for the airline and the people who make it so great, but no one has ever proactively cared for me or my family in such ways as Susan.

My mother’s Monday flight needed to be rebooked and Susan kindly did so, putting my mom on the same flight the following day. She walked me through the wheelchair assistance process and was determined to make sure my mom got to her flight safely on Tuesday.

When Susan heard my mom’s new flight was canceled, she rushed to find my mom, rebooked her immediately and made sure she and her luggage got on the next available flight. With only 15 minutes to spare, Susan personally transferred my mom’s luggage from one plane to the next. Her dedication and resourcefulness were incredible and unbelievable!

Susan Chun is now our guardian angel of safe flights! Her caring ways helps us know that we are going to be alright. Our sincere thanks to Susan and Alaska Airlines!”

Laura D’Onofrio
TSA

Laura D’Onofrio

A passenger sent in this letter about their experience with TSA agent Laura D’Onofrio (she/her) at the checkpoint: 

“One of your employees went way above and beyond for usher name is Laura.

My medically fragile, 90-year-old father was just discharged from the hospital, and we needed to catch a flight to Salt Lake City. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, we were short on time, and I needed to get my dad some dinner.

I found a wheelchair and pushed my dad to the checkpoint, at which point he set off an alarm due to some substance that he had picked up from the hospital. Laura saw the look on my face and immediately came over to help. She got us through the checkpoint and then took over the wheelchair driving. She brought us to an all-user restroom and showed us where to get water.

When I burst into tears from all the frustration and anxiety of the day, she gave me a hug. Finally, she took us to the gate and made she we were comfortable and seated together. Laura was so kind and compassionate, and turned a stressful experience into one that I will remember with fondness. Laura is an extremely excellent employee and reflects very positively on TSA.”

More PDX People Quarterly Award Winners: April – June 2022

Ed Beck (he/him)
PDX Volunteer Information Program

Ed took extraordinary measures to help travelers complete missing paperwork for their trip to Seoul.

Anna Berezhinskiy (she/her)
SP Plus Corporation

Anna earned this note for her excellent service: “Anna was splendid, cheerful and helpful. She is a credit to your organization, and you should be proud of her.”

Tamara Bumpbell (she/her) and Neil Teller (he/him)
Dollar Car Rental

Tamara and Neil’s service exceeded a passenger’s expectations when their plans changed unexpectedly.

Anita Hardy (she/her) and Ashley Sauer (she/her)
Capers Café

Anita and Ashley received this letter: “They were such a pleasure during a very busy morning around the bar and guest tables. They are gems!”

Reggie Powell (he/him)
Hudson News

Reggie took the time to ensure a passenger who was stuck in the airport felt cared for and acknowledged.

Watch the PDX People customer service awards ceremony.