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Next destination: From instructing students on the ground to passengers in the air

Piedmont flight attendant and former teacher Elizabeth Austin compares having passengers in her cabin to teaching in a classroom. Like a teacher, she is an Inflight cabin instructor who teaches passengers how to be safe while on board, helps customers when needed and shows care along life’s journey. “Just like with my students, I want my passengers to know that I am devoted to their safety and wellbeing while they are in my care,” Elizabeth says.

Her skills and knowledge gained as a teacher help her in her role as a flight attendant. In her classroom, she infused humor into the lessons. “The students paid attention when I incorporated humor into learning whether it was with songs or funny stories which helped them retain the information,” she shares. “I incorporate humor into my Inflight announcements because it gets the passengers to pay better attention and hopefully better retain the information.”

Elizabeth has had passengers tell her that her sense of humor turned their day around and she says that is what keeps her going. As a flight attendant who sees passengers only for a short time, she likes to bring light to their day no matter their circumstance. “I don’t know how each passenger’s day is going or what is going on in their life on that particular day, but I treat them all with respect. They may have a fear of flying, are concerned with flying due to COVID-19 or are traveling due to a family emergency. Just like being a teacher, I want to reassure them that I am here for them while they are on my flight and want to make sure their time with us is positive.”

Elizabeth grew up in the former Panama Canal Zone where her father worked for the Panama Canal Company. After turning 18, a child of an employee had three options: attend the local two-year college, move to the United States or Panama to pursue higher education, or accept a full-time job with the Panama Canal Company. After one year of community college, Elizabeth moved to Florida where she completed her bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a minor in Mathematics from Stetson University.

Mathematics had always come easy to her throughout her life, but she learned that she didn’t always enjoy teaching it to middle and high school students. “Teaching Spanish was so much more fun,” she exclaims. Elizabeth moved to Jacksonville, North Carolina where she continued teaching high school Spanish. “I loved it and it was a great experience to take my students on trips to Europe.”

With aspirations to be an education administrator, she obtained her master’s degree in School Administration from East Carolina University, but after her daughter graduated from high school, she was ready for a change. Her daughter had been accepted to The Pennsylvania State University, so Elizabeth took an early retirement from teaching and moved to State College with her daughter.

One day at the University Park Airport (SCE), she noticed a sign that Piedmont was hiring. The sign mentioned traveling for free which was perfect since she loved to travel. “I have traveled through some of Europe and thought it would be great to experience travel with my daughter,” she shared. She joined Piedmont in SCE as a customer service agent in November 2015.

Over the years, she had countless people tell her that she would make a good flight attendant which prompted her to apply. Four years later, she earned her wings and joined Piedmont as a flight attendant. “I love my job, the passengers and the crews I work with,” Elizabeth says. Her passengers seem to love her too by the numerous positive tweets received about her service via Piedmont’s social media.

Her years of dealing with her students’ parents prepared her for dealing with difficult passenger situations. She also gained confidence for the possibility of emergency situations on the aircraft thanks to volunteering as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and the high school football team’s athletic trainer.

“Becoming a flight attendant was the best life change I made,” she exclaims. Elizabeth is proud to share that her daughter is following in her footsteps to become a flight attendant.

Our team members are at the forefront of what we do and who we are as an organization. Do you know someone like Elizabeth who would be a great flight attendant? Piedmont is looking for amazing team members to join our team. Click here to learn more about becoming a flight attendant.

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.