Contract Airline Services

"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Out of One Fire and Into Another

Fireman Turns Flight Attendant ... 

Until he was Burned! 

Graduation Day with his daughter

Flight attendant Clay Kallman was featured in the post "Who is Serving you Coffee?" with my promise to finish his story today.... so here you go! 

Clay has experienced a life with many challenges. But no matter what crossed his path, even the derailment of his planned career, Clay never gave up. He always did what it took to earn a living with a smile on his face. It's no surprise that each opportunity opened a door to the next. He is charismatic, intelligent, hardworking, caring, and passionate about health and safety. Everything an airline should want in a flight attendant. Yet, JetBlue terminated him. 

The big question is why? 

Before we learn of the event that JetBlue alleged to cause the termination, I want to share a little more of the story. When I wrote there were challenges in the early days of being a Flight Attendant at JetBlue, what that meant was... as an initial inflight instructor he found his time there to be an "abusive" setting where trainees cried daily. Not a culture he felt comfortable in. The schedules of a reserve flight attendant were also horrific. It wasn't until he was able to hold a line when he truly began to enjoy the job. But he did not go silently into those skies. 

While Clay was a fireman, he had created a fitness and wellness program at the Orange County Fire and Rescue. He tried to do the same thing at JetBlue. Clay was deeply concerned with the lifestyle of Flight Attendants at JetBlue to include the lack of healthy meal choices, sleep, fitness and medical support while at work. He not only pitched his ideas regarding health, but also how to reduce waste and minimize plastic usage to Joanna Geraghty the current President/COO. 

"She wasn't impressed. 
Especially my ideas to cut down on 
plastic and waste."

Crew in Malibu

For nearly seven years, Clay flew as a Flight Attendant without incident. Well, other than he was involved in a post on the "JetBlue Tell Inflight intranet" in which he criticized the rollout of a new cart program for serving food. He was required to attend a meeting on June 20, 2018 with JetBlue representatives including Wanda Garcia, Crew Relations Field Generalist, and Lenda Reyes, Kallman’s team leader to discuss his posts.  During this meeting he reported some very disturbing behavior that had been ongoing at Jet Blue.

Clay reported that some Flight Attendants and Pilots had been making anti-Semitic comments about the Jewish passengers who frequented their flights. Those remarks were so insulting and demeaning that I do not feel comfortable repeating them.  If you would like to read the complaint and see what he reported click here: Clay Kallman V JetBlue . The comments are on page three. 

The Flight Attendants and Pilots who made such anti-Semitic comments did not want to work those flights with mostly Jewish passengers. The comments were made in Clay's presence with blatant disregard for the fact that he himself is Jewish, a fact that his crew mates were aware of. 

Please note that there are incredible pilots and flight attendants at JetBlue who would never speak such things, but all it takes is a few. Even one is too many! 

Clay was assured that his allegations would be investigated and that a letter would be sent out to the Flight Attendants and Pilots indicating that management was aware of the situation and that such behavior is not acceptable. Clay was never contacted again about the matter and the promised letter instructing Flight Attendants and Pilots to refrain from anti-Semitic behavior was never sent out. Consequently, the anti-Semitic conduct about which Clay complained continued unabated. 

Third baseman for the JetBlue University Softball team

On June 27, 2019, Clay Kallman was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. This would change the course of his career. 

On January 3, 2020, Clay worked a flight to Buffalo, New York. The next day he went to the downtown Buffalo area in the late afternoon to watch the professional Buffalo hockey and football games. He began to feel ill shortly after and decided that it would be a good idea to take a taxi back to the Hyatt Regency Hotel, since he had to work early the next morning. 

When he arrived to the hotel, he was feeling even worse and knew that he needed food. He was exhibiting signs typical of a diabetic episode: disorientation, sluggish movement, impediments to speech, and “acetone breath.” Misperceiving his diabetic episode as inebriation, the hotel restaurant refused to serve Clay food, thereby aggravating the diabetic episode. He tried to explain that he simply needed to eat. They refused and called the police and he ended up in jail for trespassing.  Clay spent at least five hours in police custody without medical attention, blood sugar monitoring or nourishment of any kind until he was released somewhere around two in the morning (2:00 A.M.) on January 5, 2020. 

He had been scheduled to fly early on January 5th but was pulled from his trip.  On the 6th he attended a meeting with members of the JetBlue People Department. The Team Leader David Davis assured Clay that all he needed to do was provide proof of his Type II Diabetes diagnosis to back up his contention that he did indeed suffer a diabetic episode on January 4th. 

The Cop and the Fireman on the same crew. 

Despite the allegations made by the Hyatt hotel staff Clay was never asked to submit to any alcohol or blood sugar testing before or after being taken into custody.  I would think that if the police believed he was drunk that they would have tested him. Instead, they held him for a trespass charge initiated by the hotel, which was subsequently dismissed. 

On or around February 13, 2020, Clay began an email correspondence with Wanda Garcia, JetBlue Crew Relations Field Generalist, to confirm his Type II Diabetes diagnosis. Please note that Garcia had also participated in the meeting where Clay reported anti-Semitism that was never addressed. Garcia requested a doctor's note to substantiate his diabetic claim, which Clay provided to JetBlue on February 24, 2020. The event was over.  So he thought. 

Clay and his recently graduated students in Santo Domingo

Clay flew during the months of January, February, and March. Then, on March 15, 2020, JetBlue notified Clay that he would be suspended without pay while an investigation was being conducted into the January 4, 2020 incident in Buffalo. JetBlue’s suspension letter promised a “full and fair investigation.”  

However, on March 16, 2020 – just one day after being informed that the circumstances surrounding his suspension required a “full and fair investigation” and more than two months after the Buffalo incident, Clay was issued a letter of termination from JetBlue. 

The Fastest Investigation Ever!

How long does it take to open an employee's file to see that the he has been pushing for nutrition and health reform, is now a diabetic, but also a trouble-maker because he reported anti-Semitic comments?  That file closed and so did the investigation. 

Why Did JetBlue Terminate Clay?

Clay is a 60-year-old, Jewish, heterosexual flight attendant who has done nothing wrong but made efforts for improvement. He is also a diabetic. Why did they really terminate Clay? Pick a reason, but it certainly wasn't for drinking on his layover. Their "less than 24-hour investigation" that began 3 months after the event doesn't cut it. He provided the medical documentation requested. There was no evidence he drank, and the Buffalo police didn't believe it or they would have tested his alcohol level. 

Clay leaving Bogata 

Clay Kallman is now headed to court 
with the list of charges against JetBlue: 

  • COUNT I Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act Disparate Treatment
  • COUNT II Violation of the New York State Human Rights Law Disparate Treatment Based on Disability
  • COUNT III Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act Failure to Accommodate.
  • COUNT IV Violation of the New York State Human Rights Law Failure to Accommodate.
  • COUNT V Violation of Title VII Religious Discrimination.
  • COUNT VI Violation of the New York State Human Rights Law Religious Discrimination.
  • COUNT VII Violation of Title VII Hostile Work Environment.
  • COUNT VIII Violation of the New York State Human Rights Law Hostile Work Environment.
  • COUNT IX Violation of Title VII Retaliation.
  • COUNT X Violation of the New York State Human Rights Law Retaliation.
  • COUNT XI Violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
  • COUNT XII Violation of the New York State Human Rights Law Age Discrimination.
  • COUNT XIII Violation of the New York State Human Rights Law Sexual Orientation Discrimination. (Heterosexual) 
Why the Lawsuit?

Filing a lawsuit is not cheap---financially or emotionally. The employee will spend years financing a legal defense. The airline has unlimited resources and will do whatever it takes to hide the wrong doings of their executives. I wish there was a way for shareholders to know how much money airline management wastes defending indefensible behavior of management. The airline knows that many don't have the resources to sue. How can you stand up to injustice if your paycheck depends on survival, and the company just took that paycheck?  I asked Clay his purpose for the lawsuit, and he said: 

"My goal with this lawsuit is to make JetBlue airways stop being tyrannical in regards to their treatment of flight attendants. Many other flight attendants have been terminated unceremoniously, like me, but they didn’t have the resources to file a complaint."

Clay is suing for the right reason... 
to make change for others.
When you do it for the right reasons
You don't give up!

What I don't understand is why JetBlue is willing to face the negative PR that this injustice will bring. I believe if the founder, David Neeleman, knew that this was ongoing it would have stopped before it began. I wrote a paper on Neeleman during my MBA. His story is fascinating. The only reason JetBlue is in business today, is because of Neeleman's character, integrity, and perseverance... which I believe to be similar to Clay's. I asked Clay what he would say to Neeleman:

"I’d tell Neeleman that his once proud airline has turned into a money grab for management, a power play for team leaders, and a hostile work environment for its crewmembers. He should keep his next airline private."   

Clay's Current Plans  

"My goal now is to do my own travel vlog with all the modern equipment and social media, while speaking out against abusive airlines. Airlines like Jetblue that do not offer proper nutrition, fitness opportunities, sleep, and support for pilots and flight attendants while on pairings. Then when these pilots and flight attendants need medical assistance, these airlines will always support their people and have trained medical personnel at all layover hotels, ready with proper nutrition at all times and do not terminate them for their illnesses."

Contact Information: 

If you want to reach out to Clay, you can email him at
You can also find him on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook by simply typing his name: Clay Kallman. 

If you would like to reach out to his team leader, Lenda Reyes, you can email her at: Clay tells me he believes the Wanda Garcia, the Director of the People Department, was behind his termination as retribution for making Whistleblower complaints and anti-semitic complaints. Please feel free to write to Wanda too.

Airlines count on employees to walk away.
But change will never happen if they do.

Good Luck Clay!
You are a champion in every way...
Stay Strong!

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Who is Serving You Coffee?

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Clay Kallman

I'm not waiting until Friday to post Clay's story. Friday will be dedicated to the continuation of this story. Today is to introduce a man who has found himself fighting for justice. 

I have met some extraordinary Flight Attendants throughout my career and have flown with some that became pilots. To have a fireman, nurse, pilot, bodybuilder, or police officer on my plane as a Flight Attendant always added comfort in the event of an emergency. Everyone has a story, and Clay's could be a novel. Enjoy the little snippet of the first few chapters of his life, as what happens next will leave you dumbfounded. 

Clay told me his father was a New York City detective for 20 years whose career advice was to “Be A Cop.”  Instead, in 1981 Clay graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Public Relations and Journalism. Yet timing in life is often everything.

"Just my luck, 1981 began the Great Recession and most jobs dried up. I took a job as an assistant manager with Showbiz Pizza Place with an additional responsibility as the regional marketing director in Jacksonville. Florida.  After two years the company began to have its sales drop dramatically so I left and moved back home with my mother in North Miami Beach, Florida. While waiting for something to pop up I became a server for TGI Fridays in the Aventura Mall."

My friend was a waiter with Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL). The cruise line seemed like a nice job, but not as a waiter, as an officer. I put on a suit and tie and brought my resume to their headquarters and asked to see the operations manager. The receptionist asked if I had an appointment and of course I did not. I told her that I would wait. Two hours later she told me that Mr. Horton would see me now.

We got along great and talked for about thirty minutes. I told him that I was interested in the purser position, left my resume and said goodbye. This was in 1985, just as CCL was dramatically expanding."

A few months later Clay's phone rang and Mr. Horton from CCL called to tell him he was hired as a purser. He flew to Los Angeles the following week at his own expense and started his new job. 

 "Viola, I was an officer on the MS Tropicale, the newest cruise ship in the world. It was a great year of cruising and life experiences."

Despite the many adventures and 
hobnobbing with famous people, 
he left after a year. 

Clay with Kathy Lee Johnson (Gifford)

"Wanting to leave south Florida, I settled in the beautiful beach town of Melbourne. I wanted to use my abilities as a public relations professional, so I put on a suit and tie and walked into the PR firm of Baumbach and Fisher. I talked with Dick Baumback for about thirty minutes and viola, he hired me on the spot.

Clay was an account executive, for about a year, handling public relations for aerospace and high-tech companies. 

"I had a knack for this and did very well. The constant brain strain of creating new PR plans and implementing them was fun for a while but quickly waned. I had my eye on a fledgling restaurant/bar directly on the beach in Indialantic, just over the Melbourne Causeway bridge in the seaside town of Indialantic.

One day I walked into the construction area where they were rebuilding the restaurant/bar and introduced myself. We talked for about 30 minutes and viola, I was the new manager and bartender. The Owner, Joe Foley, had a restaurant/bar on Duval Street in Key West, right across the street from the famous Sloppy Joe’s. He also had a 50’ sailboat docked a few hundred yards from the restaurant called Foley Square.

Clay lived on Joe’s sailboat and managed the bar for about six months until he returned to Indialantic to run the newly remodeled Beach Club. Burned out, he began looking for something different and left for Israel, and ended up staying for four months.  

"I had family there and my friend’s father had a business breaking boulders on the side of rock mountains in the town of Shaarei Tikva in the West Bank. I borrowed a car from my friend’s dad and travelled throughout Israel and stayed at my cousin’s Kibbutz named Ein HaMifrats, just north of Haifa. For three weeks I was a fish farmer. We were the tough guys of the Kibbutz. We started work before the sun rose and the six of us would drag large nets through the freezing water and gather the fish, squeeze out and collect the eggs from their gills and send the fish to market."

Working on the Rock Breaker in Sha’arei Tikva, Israel.

"While I was in Israel in 1988, the celebration of Israel’s 40th anniversary, the Palestinian uprising was occurring, the intifada. I had many close calls while driving through Arab areas. Jews had green license plates and Arabs had blue license plates. I became keenly aware when the color of the license plates went from green to blue. While getting this car inspected, I drove this car to the Arab town of Nablus with my green license plate, all by myself. As I left to get back to Shaarei Tikva, rocks were thrown at me as I drove. I ran all red lights and stop signs and got out safely. Now I had a legal car to explore with."

Posing at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

"I also studied with a friend at the Yeshiva Ohr Somayach, a college of study of the Torah in Jerusalem. I was raised an Orthodox Jew but not currently practicing. I did find meeting with the rabbis and fellow students very interesting. Mostly, they used the teachings of the Torah as tools to explain life. After spending about a week at the seaside resort area of Eilat, it was time to go home."

Clay's Bar Mitzvah

"I decided to visit my friends in Melbourne, Florida. I stopped by Indialantic beach and saw a guy from the gym I worked out with a few times, wearing a Palm Bay, Fl, firefighter tee shirt. We began talking about his firefighter job. He told me that he worked 24 hours on and 48 hours off and it was the greatest job ever. He explained that I needed to get my EMT certification and go through a firefighting course called Minimum Standards. The next week I was enrolled in the fire academy in the north Florida town of Middleburg."

Clay on the left after an all night fire

"I knew nothing about firefighting. I remember asking how the water gets from the fire hydrant to the fire. The class laughed at me. By the end of the five month course I was as sharp as anyone. I passed the state exam and moved to Orlando to take my EMT course while shucking oysters at a Calico Jacks restaurant. CJ’s gave firefighters 50% off all food and alcohol, thus I got to know many Orange County firefighters. Once I graduated from my EMT classes the firefighters guided me through the process of getting hired. In February of 1990 I was an Orange County firefighter."

Getting promoted to Lieutenant

1995 Fireman's Calendar

Proceeds benefited the Orange County
Firefighters Children's Burn Fund.

Clay also became a father and raised a beautiful and successful daughter. He was the public information officer for three years, and became a paramedic and a lieutenant.

"My firefighter career lasted 20 years."

Clay's Aviation Career was about to take off!  

"Meeting a friend one night at an Orlando Ale House, at the end of my firefighting career, about 50 years old now, I met several girls at the bar. They told me they were instructors at JBU, Jetblue University, and thought I would be a great flight attendant and they like to hire firefighters. About a year later I retired from the fire department and applied to JetBlue Airways for the flight attendant position. I was not hired."

Clay began a Vlog, a video blog about his travels. This was before YouTube. He called it the “FAN Club” FAN standing for Fitness Adventure Nutrition. 

"I bought a kayak and fastened it to the roof of my Aztek sport utility vehicle, put a bed where the backseats were, a mountain bike, in a new town, on my bike rack and took off up the east coast of the USA for an adventure. I posted photos and videos of my travels while writing a story about it every morning at a coffee house, in a new town, with internet. Then I would do it all over again. I had business cards made up and would pass them out to people to follow me on Facebook and to access my Vlog. It was quite a success."

Once he returned home to Orlando, he received an email from Jetblue which stated that he could re-apply, so he did. This time he got an interview and was hired. In his words, "I was so excited." But as many of you know being a new employee, pilot or flight attendant, the pay was nothing and the challenges were many. 

Clay with two of his classmates at flight attendant graduation

"Being on reserve in Boston, living out of my car until I could find an apartment was a challenge. Jetblue gave us no assistance with finding a place to sleep. I contacted Captain Joey in Gloucester, MA. I met him during my Vlog days. He has a daily blog called Good Morning Gloucester. I had featured him in my Vlog and he featured me in his blog. He knew someone in Gloucester that had a room for rent. I wrote them a check for $1,600.00 on the spot and had a home for the next two months."

As Clay said, the job as a reserve flight attendant had many challenges. But nothing that he could not handle. I suspect this was due to his initiative, attitude, and experience. Experience is an interesting thing. It provides abilities you would not otherwise have, but it also provides perspective and confidence. Being a flight attendant was not what he expected, but he tried to make it as enjoyable as possible. He also was not afraid to speak out to management.  

"I became an initial inflight instructor at JBU and found my time there to be in an abusive setting. I was mostly an errand boy and was not accepted by the staff there. None of my medical or firefighting training was utilized. They were abusive to the recruits with multiple students breaking down and crying every day. The pay was terrible and most mornings at 3:00 am that cell phone would ring and I was off on an adventure." 

"What a great job!" 

"Once I got a ‘Line” after three years, the job changed dramatically. I was living at my house, based in Orlando, and got to have layovers in exotic and wondrous places. I fell in love with Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Bogota, Colombia. The beaches of San Juan were wonderful. New York City, Long Beach, Downtown Boston, Portland Maine and Oregon were also my favorites."

Flying to Santo Domingo with Carlos Peńa,
an ex Major League Baseball player now an analyst.

During an Emergency

"I loved being able to use my paramedic skills to assist customers that were experiencing medical emergencies. I saved a few lives with simple maneuvers like opening an airway or giving juice to a low blood sugar diabetic, or diagnosing chest pains as not a cardia problem but anxiety. The pilots liked having me on their planes because they told me they could relax knowing I was there."

Then the unexpected happened

Jet Blue
Clay Kallman

Not to leave you hanging... but I am. Friday April 30th, you can return to learn the details of Clay's termination. Appalling in every sense of the word. A lawsuit has been filed. While I am not an attorney (yet), I have learned a great deal about our legal system. A few things I know to be true: 

It's not about Truth, Honesty, and Justice, 
It's what you can prove in court. 
If you're lucky, you can prove injustice. 

Second, if you take the time to read legal cases and associated appeals, you will learn that Airlines often are not defending their illegal actions, but instead they are looking for legal loopholes to get away with what they did. I do not believe Jet Blue will get away with this. But you can decide. I invite you to return on Friday and learn why Jet Blue terminated Clay Kallman.
Until then... 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Dreams Achieved!

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Alberto Valverde

Alberto's dream from childhood had always been to become an airline pilot. A dream that has never wavered. From San José, Costa Rica, he  graduated from college and was headed that way. But sometimes our dreams don't come as quickly as we wish. Alberto said, 

"The expensive tuition fee added to the few studying possibilities in Costa Rica; they were reason enough to put the Pilot training aside. I was able to finish just doing my ground school and 2 hours of fly. For a moment, the idea of ​​being a Pilot was over."

At the age of twenty he enrolled with the economic faculty at the university and worked part-time to pay for his  studies. It took him six years, but he managed to complete his degree. He also had the opportunity to do a year abroad at the University of Leeds in England. He then returned to finish the last year in Costa Rica; and started working as a stockbroker.

Despite his success, he realized, 

"The new job, my age, the salary, and the moment's situation opened the opportunity for me again to be a Pilot."

He began studying to become a Pilot from the beginning. Nine years had already passed since his first couple of hours. At this time he already had a beautiful son Julian and girlfriend, Alejandra. While life often deters dreams, Alberto pursued his.

"The day arrived, January 18th, 2019. I would fly on the best aircraft in the world, the beautiful Cessna 172 Skyhawk TI-BHC. With my Instructor Josué Solano, whom I admire a lot, on April 11th, 2019, I made my first solo flight; on June 25th, I receive my Private pilot license. The dream had become a reality; I had a license in my hands that authorized me to fly as a PIC in an airplane; I couldn't believe it, ten years I had to wait. Then came the commercial and IFR training hours."

As Alberto continued his flight training hours in Costa Rica, he also worked as a stockbroker. He enrolled to do a Master's Degree in Finance at the University of Essex in England. In his words, "I love that country so much."

"I could fly for a few hours during the 2019/20 master year, but I kept accumulating some hours and experience flying over London a couple of times. For this moment, I had acquired a great passion for corporate and general aviation." 

"However, the dream of flying an Airbus 350 or a Boeing 787 wearing a perfect uniform will always remain in my mind, but I don't know if, for my age, I can achieve that. I'am 30 years old. After my master's in England, I returned to Costa Rica to finish my Commercial License. I had managed to complete my hours and the pilot major. I was delighted to fulfill the dream of a child. However, the most challenging thing is to get a job opportunity as a Pilot."

"However, understanding the world aviation situation, I thought that obtaining the FAA licenses is necessary to my CV to find a job in aviation industry."

For this reason, Alberto was in the United States, Wichita, Kansas, where he was able to validate his private license to FAA standards. Not only that, but he took his IFR Check-ride, too. One of the most challenging ratings of them all. 

"Yesterday I did my check ride, 
so finally FAA Private and Instrument Rated."

Wednesday he passed his checkride, and Thursday he was back in his country because he needed to finish a couple of things with work.  He plans to return to the US for his Commercial license and multi-engine rating the last week of July and expects to spends no more than one month because already has all the hours and requirements. Thus, he only needs to complete the check-rides and orals exams. 

"The dream right now is to be, Private, IFR, Commercial, and multi-engine, with approximately 400 hrs in November 2021, I already have 300 hrs. For this moment, I want to try to apply to some aviation jobs, maybe fly a Citation, 737, 321 neo, A350, or a fantastic King Air. The effort has already been worth it, but I don't want to stay there. I want to take the next step, work for an aviation company."

"We all have dreams.  But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort." Jesse Owens

Alberto has proven how dreams can become a reality. But he has also proven that he displays the qualities necessary to be an Airline Captain. He is a pilot who doesn't give up. His passion, dedication and commitment will carry him far. 

Congratulations Alberto! 
May all your dreams come true.
Something tells me they will.

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene