Salisbury, Maryland (SBY) cross-trained agent Lewis Sun says working in the aviation industry parallels working in a restaurant because your job is all about providing good customer service. In fact, that’s what drew him to work as an agent after 36 years in the restaurant business. “Just like in a restaurant, at the airport I get to know my customers and I want to make sure their experience is a good one, so they continue to come back,” says Lewis.
Originally from Taiwan, Lewis’ family immigrated to the United States when he was 14. When he moved to the United States, he couldn’t speak English and learned the language by watching cartoons and Jerry Lewis on television. Jerry Lewis was such an influence on him that he chose the name Lewis as his American name when he became a U.S. citizen. His father had previous experience as a chef for the Chinese ambassador to Spain and in 1980, his family opened a Chinese restaurant in Salisbury, Maryland. Lewis worked at the restaurant doing everything from bartending, waiting tables, washing dishes to cleaning.
When his parents passed away, he took over the restaurant operation in 2011. He looks back and remembers how working from open to close was difficult and he missed taking vacations. Several years later, in 2014 he made the decision to sell the restaurant. After a short retirement, he realized he wanted to be more active and wanted to reenter the work force and obtain health benefits.
With Piedmont Airlines’ corporate office based in Salisbury, the airline industry was not something he had ever considered. He learned that Piedmont was hiring for a cross-trained customer service position at the Salisbury Airport and he decided to give it a shot. “I never thought I would work in the aviation industry,” he reflects. “I’m glad I gave it a chance because I love it.”
He had always worked in the service industry and working at the airport had many similarities. “Like working in a restaurant, you enjoy getting to know the customers you interact with on a consistent basis,” said Lewis. “I know many of our travelers by name and want to ensure they have a good experience. I also have great co-workers who are like family. Just like in a restaurant, we all have to work together to get the job done.”
Having experience with dealing with unhappy restaurant customers comes in handy when working with upset customers when flights are delayed or cancelled. He believes you have more success when you empathize with the customer and maintain a calm demeanor.
Lewis takes advantage of the company travel benefits at every opportunity. Since joining Piedmont in 2016, he estimates that his family has taken over 50 trips across the globe. “Working for the airline provides a great opportunity to see the world,” said Lewis. “It’s been a great experience for our children to visit other countries and learn about different cultures. I encourage parents to travel with their children so they can learn and see how others live.”
Lewis plans to retire in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands where they visit frequently on his days off using his travel benefits. “We loved visiting the island so much that we bought a home and look forward to retiring there,” said Lewis. “Working for Piedmont provides me with the health insurance that I need, travel benefits that allow me to make memories with my family and on top of that, it’s a great place to work.”
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Next Destination is a Piedmont feature series that highlights our aviation professionals who joined Piedmont after working in a different career field. Piedmont is proud to recognize our team members for their contributions to the success of the airline.