For several years, Darwin Johnson was known around Alaska Airlines as “the man on the First Class signs.” During that time, the smiling face of this affable Customer Service Agent, who has trained thousands of other agents over a 35-year career at the airline, was literally the picture of an Alaska CSA.
“For some reason, they wanted to take my photo,” Johnson recalls. “So then I was on signs for First Class across the system.”
The self-effacing Johnson, who has since modeled articles of clothing for Alaska’s new-uniform tests, says that he used to get a lot of good-natured teasing for being a poster boy.
“It was fine,” he says with a laugh. “But I didn’t mind when they took those cards down.”
The truth is that Johnson is widely appreciated by his peers and supervisors as an exemplary employee. He is beloved for his expertise as a CSA, his emphasis on safety procedures, and his calm and positive approach to training.
Growing up in Tacoma, south of Seattle, Johnson began his career at Boeing as a machinist. He eventually decided to work at an airline because he loved travel, and he found his calling in customer service, working at Alaska as a reservations sales agent for three years before becoming a CSA. About 25 years ago, he also became a trainer and has thrived in this role, as a natural teacher and mentor.
“Darwin is welcoming and always willing to help,” says Donna Olson, Manager of Seattle Station Training. “Engaging with empathy and compassion, he’s kind, funny, and makes everyone, from new hires to leadership, feel valued.”
The appreciation co-workers feel for Johnson was evident last year, when he underwent a kidney transplant and there was an outpouring of support as he recovered. Amazingly, Johnson had even chosen to work while undergoing dialysis. It was one more instance of this agent being the picture of dedication. —Ben Raker
Questions & answers
What do you like most about your job?
It’s always the people—customers and co-workers. If I can help them in any situation, I do. That’s what keeps me going.
How do you define good service?
Helping guests and co-workers and being able to fix their problems.
What is your best job advice?
Build relationships with people so they can be comfortable coming to you. And treat customers the same as you would your friends and family.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I like golf when I can fit it in. I also love listening to music: bebop and heavy jazz.
Where have you enjoyed traveling?
I like the Caribbean. Or Maui. Or Europe. Or South America. Also, my wife and I have a son in Arizona and a daughter in Houston. We try to get there when we can.
Kudos from Darwin’s co-workers
“Darwin brings his whole self to work and is always willing to stay and help out when needed by new hires or the station.” —Karen W., Manager, Policies and Procedures, Seattle
“He’s a wealth of information, and he was always willing to teach me or show me how to do something if I didn’t know. No matter what your question is, he will drop what he is doing to help you. You can always go to him for help. He has the patience of a saint.” —Jake G., Flight Attendant, Seattle
“Darwin is Mr. Alaska Airlines, Superman, teacher and mentor, all wrapped up in one great package. He is known all over the system. He has a contagious smile and laugh. All agents, new and old, love him.” —Alana C., CSA, Seattle
“I always felt that in Darwin there was the co-worker/friend you could count on to do the right thing in any situation. It has truly been a pleasure working with this amazing man!”
—Sheryl D., Supervisor, Employee Onboarding, Seattle
Alaska Airlines employees such as Darwin Johnson are the reason for our excellence. Join us in creating an airline people love. Visit careers.alaskaair.com.