In a touching move, a husband and wife who have spent more than three decades working for Alaska Airlines have retired together in hopes that it will save the jobs of their children, who have followed in their footsteps.
A Family Affair At Alaska Airlines
32 years ago Lee met Brenda during a layover ahead of a redeye flight from Seattle to Anchorage. Six months later they were married. Lee was a pilot, Brenda a flight attendant. Over the years the Ericksons had plenty of opportunities to fly together and also expanded their family, welcoming daughter Sidney and sons Kalin and Keaton into the world.
Over time, all three children followed in their parents’ footsteps in terms of working for Alaska Airlines. Kalin is a first officer, Sidney is a flight attendant, and Keaton was an intern.
Brenda and Sidney often worked together in the back of the plane. Brenda told ABC News:
“It’s kind of funny though, you try to be professional, but one time Sidney called on the airplane and says, ‘Mom — I mean Brenda — call dad — I mean Captain Erickson.'”
But COVID-19 hit and with it, passenger demand. With Alaska Airlines aggressively courting early retirement in order to avoid as many furloughs as possible, the senior Ericksons decide to retire…they hope their move will help to save the careers of their children. Lee said:
“To give our younger employees, including our own children, a chance not to be furloughed, and a chance to have the same career we did is very important to us.”
Consequently, Lee piloted his final flight earlier this week…with Keaton as his first officer.
“It’s a little surreal. It seems like I was just pushing him on the tricycle and now I’m calling to him for the before-start check. Having him there for that last flight — it is like handing over the baton.”
It’s not like Lee could swap places with Kalin and Brenda with Sidney. The seniority system still reigns. Wouldn’t it be tragic if by the time this is over none of the Ericksons work for Alaska Airlines? By all accounts, both lee and Brenda loved their jobs, even 35 years later. We often bemoan young people losing their jobs, but another sad tragedy of COVID-19 is that many generous, gentle older pilots and flight attendants have graciously taken early separation packages for altruistic reasons. We will miss them greatly in the skies.
images: Alaska Airlines