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Special to Kalamalama by Oysten Valen, TIMSO

 

Greg Chilson, manager of Inflight Training & Regulatory Compliance at Aloha Airlines, conducted the tour, accompanied by flight attendants and in-flight instructors Vaune Kino and Steven Chang.
The tour began in the luggage claim area where rules for safe conduct were explained and students received visitor badges and ear plugs.

The next stop was a seventh floor window of the Interisland Terminal that provided a rare opportunity for a close-up aerial perspective on the whole airport. As Chilson pointed out, thousands of passengers get a good aerial view of the airport while they ascend or descend, but few get a chance to see it from such a close distance.

While admiring the view, Chilson gave students a brief history of Aloha Airlines and Honolulu Airport. Aloha Airlines, he explained, began with a focus on interisland transportation, acting as a connection partner for the larger U.S. carriers that had their stopovers in Honolulu. In recent years, however, these carriers have added direct flights from the mainland to the outer islands, taking away much of the traffic that had been Aloha’s niche. In response, Aloha Airlines started to offer mainland flights to their customers to try to take back some of the traffic. Aloha’s Boeing-made B737 -700 class aircraft is long-ranged and capable of reaching a number of cities on the U.S. West Coast, including Oakland, Anaheim, and Las Vegas.

Continuing the tour, Kino and Chang recounted some of their experiences working aboard an aircraft. “If you want to get hired by an airline, do not tell them that you love to fly – it just doesn’t do it,” Kino explained. “Working as a flight attendant is all about loving people and being a good interpersonal communicator.”

This description was reinforced by the many smiles that greeted the TIMSO students in the flight attendants’ lounge

Arriving at one of the gates, the students inspected an aircraft preparing to board passengers bound for Oakland. They then crossed the tarmac where Aloha’s aircraft were parked, and, after takings photos of the group with a commercial jet aircraft as the backdrop, proceeded to the ramp area where passenger bags are sorted for arriving and departing flights.

As a result of the 9-11 terrorist incident, every piece of luggage on its way to the aircraft is now scanned by a hi-tech analyzer. The million-dollar machines used to be optional, and for a period of time the U.S. Government even subsidized the purchase of the machines in the hope that the airlines would take care of upgrades and maintenance. That didn’t work, and today, all the machines are owned by the government and operated by Transportation Security Agency personnel.

The full tour took two hours, and TIMSO would like to extend a warm mahalo to Ms. Kino, Mr. Chang, and Mr. Chilson for taking time out of their busy schedules to meet with our TIMSO group. The experience was both very enlightening and memorable.

 

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