In the cabin of an Embraer 175, two best friends are having the time of their life. They’re meeting new people, entertaining cute children and cracking jokes.
Luckily for Donna O’Dea and Whitni Bragg, they’re having that great time on the job. The two Envoy flight attendants have been working flights together as the “Dream Team” for the past nine months.
Donna takes out her iPad and shows it to a group of passengers and says, “This is what happens when you give your best friend your password.” A photo of Whitni making a face like a paused video of a rollercoaster ride pops up on the screen, and the passengers burst out in laughter.
Every flight they work together, Whitni says she will announce to the cabin that it’s the passengers’ “lucky day” to be flying with them. And they would love to continue to make that announcement every day as long as they buddy-bid to work the same flights.
By coordinating their schedules, they are never laboring a day, but rather spreading joy and goodwill to their customers together as a team.
“We make it our mission that every time someone steps off our plane, they’re smiling,” says Whitni. “We try to personalize our service, because people like to feel like they’re the only ones on the plane. It makes their day.”
Above-and-Beyond: The new norm
On a regular basis, Donna and Whitni are doing things to help elevate their customers’ experience, like bringing honey in winter for sore throats, cutting straws for children to drink out of the wide-mouth cups without spilling, providing portable battery chargers for waning phones or chasing down passengers to return an item they left behind on the aircraft.
It’s not required of Envoy flight attendants, but they will often help passengers trying to make a connecting flight in any way they can. Also not required is a Christmas serenade, but Whitni has been known from time to time to belt out a few verses from “Jingle Bell Rock.”
When it comes to kids, Donna and Whitni are nonplussed in the red, tear-drenched face of adversity. They have brought kids into the cockpit, showed them the galley, played games with them on their iPads, and will try to bring calm to parents juggling kids and luggage onto a crowded cabin.
“It feels good to make people happy,” says Whitni. “At the end of the day, you get out what you put it in.”
“We try to treat people how we would like to be treated or how we would treat our own family,” adds Donna. “The difference is that we take time to engage with our passengers, because we care. We genuinely do care about them.”
“It’s not work, it’s fun.”
Even though they say it’s not work, they do perform their duties at an elite level. Like any great team, they complement each other and work to their individual strengths.
They say that Donna takes the lead in the cabin and Whitni follows, but they have the same goal to have fun while being great at their jobs. It’s also important to them to give the same seamless customer service that they would expect on a mainline American Airlines flight.
Donna knows that by giving their customers fabulous service, she is creating return customers – which in turn ensures a stronger future for Envoy. Accomplishing this goal is fairly easy for the Dream Team, because they have a spirited personality and make sure there’s “never a dull moment when you fly with us,” Whitni says.
So far, their plan to keep customers coming back has worked, as many have asked them if they can fly with the Dream Team again, says Donna. The customers want to continue getting the amazing above-and-beyond service provided by Donna and Whitni.
Birds of an Envoy feather fly together
Donna and Whitni’s special friendship began on their first trip where they bonded over commonalities in their personal lives. From that point on, they have been inseparable – bidding for trips together, booking adjoining rooms on work trips, getting manicures together and talking on the phone on their days off.
Whitni, who is younger than Donna, often referrers to Donna as her “work mom,” and takes the liberty to poke fun at Donna like a niece would tease their older, cool aunt. Over the nine months, they have become as close as family – Donna even helped Whitni’s boyfriend plan his engagement proposal on one of their flights!
“We look out for each other and if she isn’t feeling well, I’m there to make it better,” says Donna. “When we work together, it’s not work. It makes being away from home for four days better, because we have so much fun.”
As Donna’s speaking, Whitni reaches over to adjust Donna’s scarf and gives her a playful barb.
“Her scarf is always a mess!” says Whitni. “But she has me to fix it. See? We’re a team.”
The two Dream Teamers are posing for photos in the terminals of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport cracking up as they tug at each other’s hair, poke fun at each other’s accents and make faces into the camera. When asked whose name would go first on a billboard, they begin to trade jabs.
“Well, I should go first because of the saying age before beauty,” says Donna.
“No, I’m first because I’m higher on the seniority list – you’re just senior,” Whitni jabs back. “See? This is the most fighting we will ever do.”
And then Donna lets it slip out that she didn’t share her Schlitterbahn Waterpark tickets with Whitni.
“Scratch this whole interview,” says Whitni jokingly. “That’s it! We’re never flying again!”
Thankfully that won’t happen. These best friends’ bond cannot be broken that easily – they’re family now.