LAX Gold Stars
LAXtra Mile Winners and Their Stories
An elderly woman was crying and was very upset because she missed her flight. Diana came up to her and spoke with her to try to make her feel better with a Johnny Cash song, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey.” This helped the woman to calm down and gather her thoughts. She was so amazed that an employee cared so much at such a busy airport. She told the manager about Diana and how lucky they were to have someone who truly cares for a stranger's feelings.
Robert Alford responded immediately to our need to locate a bag filled with medicine and our passports. My husband had left it on a counter as our checked bag was being weighed. As we cleared TSA, we noticed we had left the bag. Our flight was scheduled to leave in approximately 30 minutes and we were desperate to find the bag. Robert instructed us to wait at the boarding area while he helped my husband get to the baggage counter quickly. Within 10 minutes, Robert brought our bag to me. The medicines were very important and difficult to replace, as well as the passports. Thanks for saving us, Robert.
LAX volunteer Steve Herbst is being recognized for excellent customer service and team skills. On March 28, 2019, at the informational desk (Terminal 6, baggage level across from Starbucks) Steve Herbst and Transportation Security Officer Diana Barahona helped an older deaf passenger, Randy T. Miner, get to his final destination. The two spent over 45 minutes trying to reach out to the passenger’s Point of Contact (POC) for pick up, (of whom never showed up), a few friends, relatives and different hotels in downtown Los Angeles. All the phone calls went to an answering service or a relay station. The challenge in this process was communication. Steve communicated with the passenger through phone apps and the use of paper and pen. Steve was professional, calm, respectful and consistently patient. The ordeal ended with Steve and Diana discovering that no reservation existed. The passenger was not going to a Los Angeles downtown Marriott, but he was heading to downtown Santa Monica. Steve and Diana walked Randy out to curbside, placed him in a taxi, and sent to the downtown Santa Monica Marriot Residence Inn. A follow-up call was made to ensure Randy made it safely. He did and the hotel front desk employee said he knew Randy from previous stays. Good job in showing LAX cares.
An American Airlines passenger was checking in at the ticket counter. Tony Beaird of G2 Secure Staff was walking by and heard the passenger state he had no money to pay the $30 charge for his one checked bag. Tony spoke to the passenger for a few minutes and advised the agent that he would pay for the checked baggage fee. The passenger was very grateful.
Marquita Billhardt was assisting at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Terminal 1 with the coordination of an Honor Flight to transport military veterans to visit war memorials. Marquita took the time to make it special by decorating in red, white and blue, along with flowers and flags. She came in at 3 a.m. just to be sure everything was in place and ready to go on time. She made sure that each and every veteran was served with coffee and pastries before they boarded for their flight, going out of her way to ensure the veterans felt appreciated and special.
A guest’s flight came in late which caused her to miss the shuttle that she had reserved for her ride home to Redlands – and it was 1:15 in the morning. The guest wrote: “I'm 80 years old and this posed a serious hardship for me. Well, to the rescue were two airport workers: Jason Boone and Clarence Davis. These gentlemen went beyond the call of duty and helped me install an Uber app so that I could get help at that time of night after seeing that there was no other help available. Thanks to them, and their professional, knowledgeable, helpful and kind behavior and integrity, I was able to get home safely.”
TSA Officer Natalie Bracamontes was on lunch break in Terminal 7 when a woman approached her and cried out to call 911. Officer Bracamontes noticed that a nearby guest was unresponsive and his eyes were rolling back. Officer Bracamontes instantly notified her teammate, TSA Officer Dexter Slusher, that the guest wasn’t breathing. Officer Slusher sprang into action. While Officer Bracamontes was on the phone with 911, Officer Slusher immediately began CPR. Following the 911 operator’s instructor, Officer Slusher placed the defibrillator patches on the guest. Another passenger, a registered nurse, checked the guest’s pulse and pushed the shock button on the defibrillator. The guest began gasping for air and moments later emergency technicians arrived and transported the guest to the hospital. TSA Officers Bracamontes and Slusher went above and beyond the call of duty to save a life. Their prompt actions, trust in their instincts, and teamwork enabled the guest to gain consciousness and for that, they are true heroes.
Tomi was trying to catch the VNY FlyAway to work, but it was extremely busy and the first two buses were full. Tomi decided that it would be best to drive. She happened to see a Hallmark Aviation employee nearby who was in the same predicament and offered her a ride. Thanks to Tomi's kind offer and great driving skills, the two of them were able to arrive at work on time and safely!
Sarah Cash was in the Tom Bradley International Terminal (Terminal B) working on a video project when she witnessed an elderly couple falling down an escalator. Sarah literally jumped into action, running to the couple and assisting them off the conveyance as it was being shut down. Simultaneously, Cornell Jones and Les Winfrey also saw the couple and leaped into action, as well, jumping over planters to reach the distressed couple who had cuts on their arms and heads. The trio helped the couple to their feet, carried their luggage, and escorted them to the first aid station. Sarah called Airport Police to request medical assistance and stayed with the couple for 20 minutes while paramedics responded, keeping the couple calm and comfortable after their fall. Instead of leaving when help arrived, Sarah stayed to make sure that the airline assisted the couple to their gate. As newly trained iCARE Crew members who had been on the job for just a few weeks, Cornell and Les quickly embraced and demonstrated the iCARE standards. Together, all three are truly gold stars, representing the true spirit of iCARE.
A mother and son had plans to travel, but their plans were disrupted when the son suddenly had to be taken to a secure medical facility. The mother was distraught and struggling financially. With great care, Andrea Davis assisted the mother by issuing meal and transportation vouchers. Since a hotel voucher was not yet available, Andrea delivered it to the mother later that day on her own time. Andrea also took the mother to her hotel and made sure she was comfortable and rebooked the mother and son. To this day, she still keeps in touch with them – a true example of helping those who are less fortunate in difficult situations.
Needless to say, after a 15-hour trip that started from Guam with an infant that needs surgery, we were exhausted. At Terminal 7 we were met by paramedics to transport my son to Children's Hospital LA. Upon arrival we found out there was only room in the medical transport for my wife, son and nurse; not for me or any of our luggage. That's when Leo De Vera showed up. This young man was caring, courteous and didn't hesitate to help. I went from feeling overwhelmed and completely lost to a sense of comfort and service I've never received as a frequent traveler. He stuck by my side, helped me outside, helped me connect to the internet and loaded an Uber app on my phone. Even though I think his shift was ending, he stayed with me until my ride arrived. I was moved by his compassion and his commitment to making sure I was ok. I need to make sure Mr. De Vera is rewarded and recognized for going above and beyond and not hesitating to do everything he could to make sure this stressed dad was taken care of. Thank you Mr. De Vera, God bless you. In a very stressful time, he was an angel I needed.
Keeley Dixon and Alexa Call assisted a young man trying to purchase a ticket to El Salvador to attend his mother's funeral. No matter how hard they tried, there was nothing the young man could afford. Without hesitation, Keeley and Alexa decided that the only thing to do was to reach for their wallets and help the young man purchase a ticket, a true selfless gift of compassion.
This guest’s husband became very ill when he arrived at LAX and Amarildo went out of his way to show he cared. He wheeled the guest into the restroom, checked on him several times, and notified a Delta supervisor who called paramedics. The guests decided not to continue on their connecting flight so Amarildo assisted with making arrangements for the next day AND retrieved their luggage. The guest wrote, “The kindness continues. He also contacted our hotel for a ride, brought our luggage outside, and waited with us until we departed. We can’t thank Amarildo enough for making this unexpected bump in our road an enjoyable experience. Your company has trained this employee very well . . . we cannot thank him enough.”
Los Angeles Airport Police Traffic Control Unit (TCU) Officers noticed unusual behavior after a man parked and exited his car in front of Terminal 4. After they tried to communicate with him, they notified Airport Police and guided the man to a nearby bench. The man then took a razor from his pocket and began to slice his wrist and forearm. As he placed the razor to his throat, TCU Officers quickly grabbed the man, took him to the ground and placed him in handcuffs for his own safety. The distraught man was treated on scene and was taken to a local facility to receive medical and mental health treatment where he survived his wounds thanks to the quick actions of the traffic officers.
A guest went through the TSA checkpoint during the government shutdown and was watching two officers. She wrote, “The two officers looked happy despite that they were working for free. I know the situation they were going through must not be easy and might be a little stressful, but there they sat, smiling and greeting passengers. When it was my turn, I stated to Officer Garcia “Thank you for being here. I really mean that.” Officer Garcia replied, “You’re welcome! I’m here and doing what I’m doing because I took an oath and it’s my duty.” Now that choked me up a little. I know they can’t receive gifts of any kind, but honestly and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, the TSA Officers deserve some kind of special recognition. Thank you and God bless.”
While working in the Airport Police station, Daphne heard about a 76-year-old woman who called in to look for her house keys she lost at LAX. Daphne made a point to keep an eye out for them especially when she volunteers at LAX on the weekends. Days later, Daphne actually found the house keys and called the guest. Since the lost-and-found office was closed on the weekend and the following Monday, Daphne took it upon herself to hand deliver the keys to the grateful New Yorker who couldn’t believe how courteous LAX employees are. The guest later made a personal call to the Airport Police Chief to relay her appreciation.
Cornella is constantly a positive presence in our lobby and greets every customer with a greeting that makes customers feel appreciated and welcome, like part of the LAX family. Most recently we had a request for a customer whose wife is in the early stages of dementia. Cornella met the couple and treated them like royalty. Not only did she meet and greet the couple in the lobby and ensure everything was smooth with their airport experience, but she also filmed the couple and shared that video with the customer so that he would always have that cherished memory of fun times with his wife.
A little girl accidentally let go of her balloon and it sadly floated to the ceiling. Jose used one of his broomsticks, some tape, and a few other items to be able to grab the balloon string and get the balloon back for the little girl. Using his creativity and ingenuity, he brought joy to the young guest and her family as others were watching nearby. Sometimes it's the little things that leave the biggest impressions on our guests.
As he was on a site walk, James Janovec in Operations received a call about a guest who was stranded in Terminal 3 because her dog was not allowed on the plane even though prior arrangements had been made. James quickly got to the bottom of it by contacting the airlines. He figured out that the problem was that the guest had a hard-shell dog carrier when it needed to be a soft-shell carrier. Instead of throwing up his hands, James asked his colleague Joseph Becker to meet the guest and take her to a nearby pet store to purchase a soft carrier! What a problem-solver! You can imagine the "surprise and delight" that this level of service created.
A guest was flying into LAX for the first time when she left her journal and book behind. Shandon found the journal and book, as well as the guest’s contact information and mailed it back to the guest. The guest stated that Shandon went above and beyond and was amazed by the exceptional service. The guest wrote, “Awesome first experience flying into LAX!”
An 82-year-old mother was left on a bench outside of baggage claim without a wheelchair and she could not walk unassisted. Her son was trying to pick her up in his car, but construction and traffic made it seemingly impossible for him to reach her. Officer Mala approached the son to remind him to keep moving, but then realized there was a problem. He calmed the son down and allowed him to take the walker in his back seat to get his mother. The guest wrote that Officer Mala was a “lifesaver and an excellent representative of LAX Airport Police!”
Dominador was off the clock when he spotted an elderly woman with luggage traveling by herself around 11 p.m. The elevator was not working and the woman was standing near the stairs deciding what to do. Without thinking twice, Dominador ran to help her and carried her luggage down the stairs. She was extremely grateful and offered Dominador a tip, which he refused. She started to cry after seeing that there are good people at LAX willing to help without receiving anything in return.
A guest wrote: “I had landed from a long 16-hour flight and did not realize I had left my phone inside the plane. It was 2 a.m. and I was desperate to get my cell phone back since I needed to call an Uber for transportation. I walked around trying to find help and there was not one soul that could help me. I was told I couldn't return to the terminal and that I had to wait until 3 a.m. to get help because that's when airline workers would arrive. I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was go home. This is when Willie approached me and asked me if I was ok (I had been crying from frustration). He said he could help me if I just gave him my gate and flight information. I was doubtful and did not believe that he could retrieve my phone, but Willie assured that he would do his best to get it and kept me calm. About 20 minutes later, he arrived with my cell phone in his hand, I was relieved! Willie went above and beyond my expectations, he was attentive to my problem, and made my trip unforgettable. Willie is an example of what extraordinary customer service should be at airports. I travel often for business and this experience has definitely surpassed all others!”
An employee was at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (Terminal B) food court when a guest fainted and fell to the ground. The employee tried to assist, but noticed that Zaid Shaikh had already left his busy counter duties to help the lady and keep her from being trampled by the busy lunch crowd. He called airport emergency and shielded her from harm until Airport Police and medical assistance arrived.
We couldn’t agree more with the guest who submitted that TSA story, so for the first time, the selection committee voted to recognize (SLIDE) all the men and women of TSA and CBP for their commitment to keeping one of the nations’ busiest airports up and running during the government shutdown in the first quarter of 2019. Their loyalty to service and dedication to the LAX guest experience is unparalleled and will never be forgotten. So if CBP and TSA officers from each terminal could join us up front, we want to officially say thank-you for your amazing commitment.
Lashundra Veazey goes above and beyond her duties for guests working as a supervisor at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. She helped an elderly guest in a wheelchair who was waiting to get escorted to her gate. Since the escort didn't show up, Lashundra took the guest to her gate, even though it was not part of her regular duties. She stepped out of her area of responsibility to provide an exceptional experience and demonstrate that she cares.
An 88-year-old woman’s cane broke while traveling through LAX. Her daughter wrote, “We were all freaking out that my Mum would not have a usable cane. My daughter approached Ivan and explained the situation and he immediately came up to the airline lounge to speak with my Mum. He was amazing.” Ivan took the cane back to his office, worked on it, fixed it, and returned the cane to the grandmother. Then he personally escorted them to the gate to ensure they boarded safely. The guest continued, “Wow! This was above and beyond being helpful. He was genuinely concerned and so thoughtful with my Mum. We are forever grateful to Ivan. In times like these I think it is important to say, “Thank you for a job exceeding an expectation!”
A guest wrote, “This was my first time flying out of LAX. I was lost and approached the K9 unit. The leader said his name was Alvaro Barrientos. He helped me find where I needed to go in such a crazy environment. Because of him I was able to barely make my flight and see my first child born.” People may be coming to LAX for the first time and it can be overwhelming. This story is a great reminder of that – in addition to reminding us that we are helping connect our guests to some of the most important times of their lives – like seeing their first born! Thank you, Officer Barrientos!
A terrible car accident resulted in a light pole falling and blocking lanes on Century Boulevard. LADOT said it would take two to three hours to respond. Instead of accepting that lengthy timeframe, Sean requested assistance through his working relationship with contractors and had the fallen light pole removed. Sean's focus on the guest experience led to thinking outside of the box to efficiently return all lanes back to normal, alleviating traffic chaos that we all know too well.
A fellow employee wrote: “Wheelchair agent Wilfredo Cardenas was assisting a wheelchair passenger when he heard another passenger scream. He found a man on the floor and his wife was panicking next to him saying that he just fell. Wilfredo checked his pulse and didn’t feel one so he immediately started to pump his chest. The passenger came to, but started to fade again, and at this point was losing color in his face. Wilfredo grabbed the defibrillator and used it on the passenger three times. The gentleman then woke up and said “I’m fine.” The paramedics arrived and praised Wilfredo for saving this passenger’s life. They asked him how he knew what to do and he told them he is a med student. Well done, Wilfredo!”
An officer was patrolling the ticketing area of Terminal 1, when he was flagged down by Smarte Carte employee Vilma Del Carmen Ramirez. She explained that a guest fainted and was shaking on the ground in the baggage claim area. Her swift response including running up a flight of stairs and accurately explaining the guest’s symptoms. She did not hesitate to help a stranger. Once the victim was tended to and in stable condition, the officer noted Ms. Ramirez’s genuine concern for the guest’s wellbeing. She remained at the location to assist the guest and provide aide in any way possible. The officer wrote, “Ms. Ramirez’s actions went above and beyond the scope of her duties to assist this guest. This reflects greatly upon Ms. Ramirez’s responsiveness, integrity and empathy for our guests at LAX. Great job!”
During her break at Terminal 5, Officer Deras overheard a frantic mother calling for one of her daughters. Officer Deras approached the mother who was traveling with three young daughters – one of whom was lost and was only 3 years old. Officer Deras assisted and immediately engaged law enforcement to help. After about 10 minutes, the mother was reunited with her lost daughter and was extremely grateful for the support. For any of us who have been in similar situations as parents, you know how that would feel. Thank you, Officer Deras!
On a late night, Ruben noticed a guest who was trying to arrange a ride from Super Shuttle, but was having problems. Ruben observed that Super Shuttle was closed, but instead of just moving on, he stopped to help the guest, who was from South America and had trouble with English. Ruben stepped out of his normal course of duties and called the Super Shuttle number on the sign and found the information for this guest – a wonderful way to be not only informative, but courteous, approachable and responsive – a true example of iCARE.
A family of four from Belgium had no phone and approached and asked Lon how they could contact their hotel and rental car shuttle. In addition, they had misplaced three of their passports. Lon took it upon himself to call both the hotel in Santa Monica and Alamo to see if any passports were found. He researched even further to find the local Alamo number since only the 800 number was posted online. Imagine the relief, when the passports were found in the Alamo shuttle. And Lon didn’t stop there. He even waited with the family for the shuttle to arrive with the passports – creating another memorable, LAXceptional Xperience!
“My waiter Carlos was really nice and he recommended wines and gave me a taste of the ones he liked. He seemed to be so proud when I liked each one. It’s rare that you get people that care and even rarer when you get people that care in an Airport. Seriously, rare. This was delightful. I travel a lot. I’m going to fly United, so I can sneak over here to T8 to eat.”
“I cannot express enough my appreciation for the service that Cassandra provided to our family. My daughter has autism and fears flying, but was able to prepare for the flight by touring LAX before the flight which was across the country, due to Cassandra's arrangements. Cassandra set up everything with TSA, even following up a few times to assure all went well. Oh, and did I mention that she accommodated our schedule by being at LAX on the 4th of July, her HOLIDAY?!” The guest continued, “Cassandra is the sort of public servant who makes residents truly grateful for public services and proud of their community.”
Vince was working on an escalator and heard a commotion. He went to see what was happening and observed two men. One man had a chokehold on another who claimed to have a bomb. Vince tried to calm down the situation and wanted to move everyone away if in fact, there was a bomb. Meanwhile, the man who allegedly had a bomb was able to free himself and run away.
Vince stayed and tried to calm the man down who was in the altercation, but the man started to swing at other people. Vince subdued him until Airport Police arrived to take the man away in handcuffs. Definitely not an average day in the life of an FMUG employee and we are grateful for Vince for trying to de-escalate the situation.
“Joe Martinez was extremely helpful this morning. My car began to overheat at Terminal 1 while dropping off family members for their departing flight. Upon lifting the hood of the car and checking fluids, my cousin was burned by the radiator fluid on her face and hands. Joe not only called paramedics immediately, but also frequently made sure I was ok while waiting on my tow truck. In this bizarre and dangerous situation, I'm extremely grateful Joe handled everything promptly and with genuine compassion.”
“I would like to compliment a member of your housekeeping staff who was working in the ladies room near Gate 9. I was very stressed and emotional as I was traveling to attend a funeral. I dropped my driver's license in the restroom, but was unaware that I had dropped it. I hurried to my departure gate, 17A, at the far end of the terminal. I was incredibly surprised, pleased and grateful that Teresa kindly followed me to my gate and returned my driver’s license to me!”
The ADA office received a request for assistance from a mother who would be traveling with a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, both with autism, as well as her mother-in-law who would require a wheelchair. The employee who submitted this recognition said that they were having trouble getting assistance from the wheelchair service provider, so Keith went in person to speak with a supervisor to ensure that a wheelchair would be at the curb when the family arrived at LAX via Super Shuttle. We are sure that those extra steps – both figuratively and literally – were much appreciated by the family in need.
“I am writing because this officer was so awesome to me. I did not bring socks to walk through the check point. I was so scared to go barefoot so I asked the officer if he had booties. He said no but he could help by giving me a pair of extra large gloves to put on my small feet. I was so happy. I also looked like a duck which made everyone laugh and have lots of fun. The terminal was just full of laughter and happiness. The entire team in Terminal 5 was so helpful, smiley, and polite. I fly often and this by far was the best. Please let them know they are greatly appreciated! A big “quack-quack” for Officer Privott!”
“My wife and I arrived at Terminal 5 and desperately needed to get to Terminal 8. We found trying to navigate to Terminal 8 harder than finding the train track to Hogwarts. We ran into Camille helping someone else about an hour before our connecting flight was due to leave. She dropped them off then proceeded to walk us "4 miles" out of her way to our terminal. You should have her train other staff on customer service. Going above and beyond doesn't begin to describe what she did. We are ever grateful to meeting a guardian angel in the midst of a crowded LAX who showed caring beyond just meeting a couple of strangers in need. She treated us with a personal touch that will remind us often of her kindness.”
Yesterday we went to the badge office to renew our badges. We hadn't been in two years and the process was a complete 180! From start to finish, the experience was top notch! Means the world to people like me who want to make sure that all new hires at LAX's first impression with the property are positive so they continue that positivity to the passengers!
“I was very low because we lost our ID right before our flight to Hawaii. I was almost in tears because not only were we not going to be able to make our flight ,but how would we get home? Richard was the ONLY employee that was helpful in the whole terminal. Richard not only calmed me down but offered to go and talk to some people and ask if anyone found an ID. Without him I don’t know what I would have done. What a wonderful person. He cares about actually being helpful.”
A guest waited at a gate in Terminal 4 for two hours until boarding – only to realize that she was at the wrong gate and needed to be at Terminal 6. The shuttle wasn’t working, so Tammy stepped in. Tammy was picking up a wheelchair on her way to get an arriving passenger and decided to multi-task. She put Kathleen in the wheelchair and ran with her to make up lost time and was able to get Kathleen to her flight on time. The guest wrote, “I am 68 with a pacemaker, heart failure and asthma. I wouldn’t have made it without Tammy’s help and would have had to stay overnight. I want to commend her and thank her for her wonderful and cheerful support. She’s a remarkable representative for your organization and a real blessing for your customers. She’s a gem you should be aware of. We’ve travelled extensively and have never been treated so kindly (or needed it).”
“I have been in this business for over 26 years and I thought I had seen it all. Officer Wiley proceeded to make chaos into an orchestration. He simultaneously directed foot traffic, wayward passengers going the wrong direction, passengers in the middle of the street trying to make a decision as to what they were going to do. He was efficient, had powerful leadership abilities, had a can-do attitude, no eyeball-rolling or shoulder shrugging, just supremely efficient.
At the end of a pretty amazing skill set display, he approached a convertible in the incorrect position with a young lady trying to decide how to enter the car and get her suitcase in it. He stepped forward, directed her to get into the car on the offside of oncoming traffic, grabbed her suitcase and put it in the car for her – and at the same time, he was doing the rest of his job.
It was like watching a well orchestrated dance. What a sight and something I won't forget. This encompasses getting things done efficiently, correctly, and with an eye to the compassionate element. Bravo Officer Wiley your family, your company and your country should be proud. Thank you for what you do each and every day.”
A male passenger went through the TSA checkpoint, but came back and said he was missing his bag, but had limited information. Officer Carolyn Williams came over to assist because she remembered trying to help this guest earlier and recognized that he may have a mental disability. She walked with the guest back to his gate in hopes of locating his bag and in the process, asking questions along the way to get as much information as possible. That’s when Officer Williams realized she could not leave him by himself so she had him call his daughter and his wife. Officer Williams learned that the guest’s wife had just landed at Terminal 4. She ensured the wife that she would not leave his side until she was able to meet up with him. While waiting for his wife to show up, Officer Williams provided water, brought him back to the checkpoint and sat and talked with him to make him feel comfortable. When the wife arrived, she hugged Officer Williams and cried as she expressed her appreciation for her time, dedication, and service.
A fellow employee wrote, “I have never seen such awesome customer service. She showed a character trait that I wish everyone could experience. She was very attentive and helpful and it is greatly appreciated. Who knows what could’ve happened to that passenger had she not shown compassion for his situation.”