The burly 30-something guest seated at the back of the plane seemed to be trembling during aircraft boarding in Seattle. Flight attendant Marcie Peterson slid into the empty seat next to him and asked how he was doing. “I’m so afraid of flying,” said the guest, a server for a prominent Seattle restaurant. She reassured him and kept checking on him during the flight. As the grateful guest deplaned, he invited her to visit the restaurant “any time.”
Flight attendants are “an oasis of calm” for guests, says Peterson, who has been with Alaska Airlines for nearly 30 years. “They see you are calm, and they know you also have a family and kids, and you wouldn’t be here if you were concerned, and they realize it’s all right.”
She likes to converse and make a connection with everyone she can on each flight. “I value every guest, and I want to make the flight fun and positive and memorable,” she says. “We get each moment in life only once, and since we’re going to have this time on the plane together, why not make it happy and fun?”
She is also known for always smiling, a reputation she cherishes. “Six years ago, I was in a bicycle accident and felt I had lost my face from the nose down. They didn’t know if they’d be able to reconstruct everything. I’m so grateful I have a smile and that I’m able to share it with other people,” she says.
She also shares her compassion, such as regularly making sandwiches for the homeless, helping people recovering from addiction, and leaving snacks and pop in a cabinet outside her home for postal carriers and delivery people.
She had wanted to be a flight attendant since she was a young girl, she says, and as soon as she was eligible to apply, at age 21, she sent a handwritten application letter to Alaska, her hometown Seattle-based airline. “I’m still pinching myself that I get to do this. I wanted to work for the best airline. When you get to say you fly for Alaska Airlines, it feels good.” —M. Dill
Questions & answers
What do you like about your job? There is so much variety, and the people I work with are really good people—there’s camaraderie. I also have the opportunity to make a difference for guests every day. I’ve used our safety training to do CPR and bring someone back to life. That was an amazing and fulfilling moment.
What’s important to you in life? My husband and our two kids, and helping others. I love Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” For my 50th birthday, I invited people to do 50 easy acts of kindness, from a list of 80, over six months. I did them all first so I could provide photos and how-to.
What advice do you have for employees about how to succeed at Alaska Airlines? “Enjoy moments! Our industry gives us the unique opportunity to make daily heartfelt connections. Alaska Airlines encourages each of us to embrace the responsibility of providing positive memories to our customers and peers. Make your joy contagious and your efforts palpable. It is so satisfying to witness when happiness becomes infectious.”
What do you like to do for recreation? Long-distance backpacking. I’ve hiked in remote areas of India, and in Thailand and Laos, and the 165 miles of the Tahoe Rim Trail in the mountains around Lake Tahoe.
Kudos from Marcie’s co-workers
“Marcie Peterson is remarkable. She leaves a positive impression on everyone. She inspires and encourages others—guests and colleagues. Working with her and other dedicated flight attendants has been a highlight of my career. She shines inside and out, and is truly a legend.” —Tom R., Inflight Supervisor, Seattle
“Whenever I’ve flown with her over the past 29 years—and I can speak for many others who have flown with her—she’s always had a smile on her face, whether she was having a good day or a bad day. She smiles at guests; she smiles at co-workers, at pilots, at everyone. And she just makes the mood of the aircraft and the mood of the flight upbeat. She makes everyone feel at ease.” —Yasmin V., Flight Attendant, Seattle
“On each one of her flights, she makes every person feel special, from children to our top MVP Gold 75K guests. I’m so thankful I know her.” —Vicki L., Customer Service Agent (retired), Seattle
Alaska Airlines employees such as Marcie Peterson are the reason for our excellence. Join us in creating an airline people love. Visit careers.alaskaair.com.