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Frontline Fridays: Airport Employees Keep Essential Travel Moving

COVID-19 and travel at SEA Airport More Information

June 26, 2020

Our Frontline Fridays series features Port employees whose hard work and dedication keeps our facilities running safely during challenging times. 

Today we check in with two employees who work behind the scenes at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to make your trip through the airport safe and efficient and get you to where you are going.

Grace Choi, Airport Duty Manager, Airport Operations

Grace Choi

1.    Tell me about a typical day on the job.

I started at the Port in 2014 as an International Operations Supervisor and in 2017 I became an Airport Duty Manager. Each Airport Duty Manager has an assigned specialty — I oversee security checkpoints, including checkpoint signage and queuing, and monitor and track checkpoint wait time data. Airport Duty Managers take turns rotating from Terminal and Airfield operations to the Airport Communications Center (ACC). The person sitting down in the ACC monitors the airfield, terminal, maintenance, police, fire, parking, and ground transportation and we respond as needed. 

2. How has your job changed since COVID-19?

Normally we’d have three Airport Duty Managers working per shift: one on the airfield, one in the ACC, and one in the terminal. Because of the reduced traffic, we’re down to two per shift, and one working the graveyard shift. We respond to everything and it takes a lot of teamwork. If one person is caught up doing something else, the other ADMS will jump in and help. We are not on the airfield and in the terminal as much since things have been quieter but we still monitor all areas. Plus, we are need to physical distance.

3. What do you like about your job?

Every day is different. We are out in the terminal and on the airfield. We get to meet and talk to new people. Every day is a new challenge. We are always troubleshooting or resolving issues. 

4. Why is your role essential in keeping airport operations going?

Our role is essential in making sure we are in compliance on the airfield. We do Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspection approvals on our runways and taxiways. Airport Operations Specialists (AOS) perform inspections three times a day as required by the FAA. We also monitor the terminal to keep the airport running and support travelers and airlines that are still operating. We are there for airlines to support their operation and keep the continuity of service. We keep the airport running and we keep it safe. 

5. What makes you feel safe and supported right now?

Our senior managers are making us feel supported and safe by showing up at work every day even when they don’t have to be here. It shows their commitment and support. It makes us feel appreciated since we have to be here to do our jobs. I think the airport management team has done a really good job of supporting us. Maintenance and janitorial has done a really good job cleaning and wiping down high-touch areas with disinfectant. The Port has also provided us with pocket-sized hand sanitizers and face coverings.

Brandon Carroll, Automated Control Specialist, Aviation Maintenance

Brandon Carroll

1. Tell me about a typical day on the job.

For the past four and a half years I’ve worked as an automated control specialist at the Port.  We perform maintenance on customer-facing systems at the airport, like airline check-in kiosk computer systems, baggage systems, and other hardware. We do maintenance on our software servers behind the scenes to keep things running and we work on a large variety of electronics and computer systems.

2.  How has your job changed since COVID-19?

We have fewer people on site at the airport and we’re keeping staffing at lower levels. There is still a need to keep up our systems at the airport, so we respond as usual if an issue comes up. It just may take us a little longer to respond.

3. What is making you feel safe right now?

There are fewer people at the airport at the moment. People are staying home and the people who are here are wearing face coverings. Our department has provided us with woven face coverings that we wear in public areas. We have hand sanitizers and disinfectant spray on hand, as well as Vitamin C to strengthen our immune systems.

4. What do you like about your job?

The variety of work is amazing. I’ve had jobs in the past where we do the same thing every day. It wears you down. With this job, I get to discover new ways to make things work better. There are a million ways to make improvements on the way systems work at the airport. We do work on a lot of systems that customers touch directly and we get to see the direct results of our work.

5. Why is your job essential in keeping airport operations moving?

The airline ticketing check-in kiosks and other Port-owned equipment could run into an issue and if that equipment is malfunctioning, it affects airport operations. If there is an issue with the baggage system, planes really won’t get off ground on time because sorting bags manually can take hours. We're here to keep all equipment going behind the scenes and do the essential work that travelers never see. 

Check out the other installments in our Frontline Fridays series:



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