Sunday 23 September, 2018

Dad tells Air Hostess daughter: Your Barbadian roots are calling you

Alex and Suzeth on board the Copa Airlines inaugural flight while up in the air.

Alex and Suzeth on board the Copa Airlines inaugural flight while up in the air.

The Copa Airlines crew were all honoured to staff the inaugural Panama-Barbados flight, but for some, it was also a pleasant surprise and a coming home of sorts.

So, though the first Copa Airlines direct flight from Panama to Barbados was a huge deal for Barbadians and Panamanians - especially the Tourism players and government officials involved along with Heads of Copa Airlines - it was a special moment for the flight crew beyond the Barbadian pilots as well.

There was much ado, and justifiably so, about Barbadian pilots Marc Holford and Chetwyn Clarke, but little fanfare surrounded the air hostesses who ensured that the first passengers on this journey enjoyed their trip.

Loop chatted with the Lead agent for the flight crew, Alex Machado and he felt it a privilege to service the first cohort of passengers on this new route.

He said: “When my director first told me, I was honoured because, wow, we never do flights to Barbados. The only thing I wish we would stay a few days, but it is still an honour.”

And for one of his colleagues, Air Hostess Suzeth Jardine it was even more special because she felt like a part of her was flying home.

With a huge smile on her face, she said: “It’s an honour because first of all, it’s the first flight coming here and knowing that my great-grandfather was from here, it’s really nice to come to your roots.”

It’s her great-grandfather from her dad’s side. Her dad’s Panamanian, her grandmother is from Panama, and her great-grandmother is from Trinidad and Tobago.

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And she only learned that piece of ancestral news when she told her father Raphael Jardine about the inaugural flight.

She shared:“So I told my dad that I was selected to be the first crew coming here and he told me like, ‘That’s great your roots are calling you!’ And I was like, what are you talking about? And he said that it was because my great-grandfather was from here, and that was really great because I didn’t know.”

Jardine has been working with Copa for two years and five months and this was her first time to Barbados as well.

Alex’s team comprised seven and like him, they seemed to wish that the turn-around time was long enough to explore the island. However, in just over an hour, the aircraft was prepped and returning to Panama with Queen's College graduate, Barbadian pilot Clarke at the helm.

Past-Combermerian student, Captain Holford flew the craft into Grantley Adams International Airport from Tocumen International Airport. On board was his mother Marva Holford and that made the flight even more special, as he had never piloted a craft with his mother onboard in all his decades of flying.

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