DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - It's 4:30 in the morning, when Julie Moon rolls into work at DFW airport. "Really scared," she admitted, about to start her first day, as a flight attendant for American Airlines.
Getting this job wasn't easy. American Airlines hadn't hired a new flight attendant in twelve years, not since September 11th brought the airline industry to a halt.
"I never dreamed that they would be hiring again," said Carol Carroll, one of the new hires. After offering an early retirement incentive to flight attendants last year, as part of a new union contract, American Airlines saw two thousand employees say goodbye. Their departure created space for new employees, and in October, American announced 1500 new job openings.
Twenty four thousand people applied. "We could afford to be extremely selective," said Lauri Curtis, the company's vice president of Flight Service.
"I do believe we got the very very cream of the crop." The movement is good news for everyone, including existing employees. "I'm thrilled to see the new hires 'cause now I see my seniority go up," said Christel Ogle, a flight attendant for 24 years, who like many others hasn't been able to advance up the ranks.
Each new batch of flight attendants spends eight and half weeks at a training center in Fort Worth, where they get their feet wet practicing emergency situations, like water landings. In March, Moon was part of the very first group to graduate and get her wings. There to cheer her on was her husband, who first spotted that ad in the paper.
"Hey honey, this is perfect job for you," she recalls him saying. She's certain now he was right. "I love to meet people. I love to talk to them. So, I think flight attendant IS the perfect job for me!" A native of South Korea, Moon will eventually staff American's new flights from DFW to Seoul. On the job, she is still learning, though. Her biggest challenge, so far, has been getting those cocktail orders right.
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