Six months ago, Lisa Kulpa, ’09, began her job as a flight attendant, based out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Today, she, like so many in the airline industry, is facing unpaid time off for the immediate future.
The North Tonawanda native, who earned both her business management and MBA degrees from Niagara, first heard about COVID-19 when it was initially reported in Wuhan, China, but it wasn’t until the pandemic reached the United States that she began seeing its impact on her job.
“When it started coming to the U.S., they started changing policies for our safety and the passengers’ safety,” she said, noting that they had more antibacterial wipes available in the planes and changed services like food and beverage to help limit contact with customers.
Although many flights have been cancelled, Lisa continued to work, flying both nationally and internationally. However, there have been distinct differences in the recent weeks, she said.
“Most people are wearing masks and wiping down every aspect of their seats,” she said. “Flights are less and less full. The last flight I was on had only six passengers.” She added that many passengers won’t take food or drink from the attendants, and that there is minimal interaction as they fly to their destinations.
To protect themselves from the coronavirus, she and her colleagues have been more meticulous in wiping down the galley, seats, and other areas they touch frequently. They also are allowed to wear gloves and face masks.
“It has been really sad to see something I love doing change so much,” she said, noting that seeing empty terminals and flights with as few as five or seven passengers has been surreal. “Even before becoming a flight attendant, I traveled often. It’s hard to comprehend how much this is really affecting the world.”
But Lisa finds hope in the belief that the current crisis will eventually come to an end.
“We never know when, but the sun will continue to rise, and one day things will be back to 'normal',” she said.
In preparation for that day, Lisa and her fiance started BasicTravelCouple.com, a travel blog to teach others how to travel for less by utilizing airline miles and hotel points, and have a Facebook group offering travel tips and tricks- https://www.facebook.