The Cranky Flier Interview #23 – Working United’s Afghanistan Evacuation Flights

Landline, The Cranky Flier Interview

I have a good one for you today, and it is not your typical Cranky Flier Interview. Today, I talk to Jillian Johnson, United flight attendant, as well as Artemis Bayandor, United corporate safety employee turned translator. That’s Artemis below:

Artemis Bayandor (front left) photo via United

They were kind enough to give me more than half an hour of their time, discussing their experiences working multiple flights full of evacuees from Afghanistan. Jillian had worked flights before the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) was activated, and both worked flights after, often with very different experiences on each flight. Here’s Jillian below on one of her trips:

Jillian Johnson (back right in blue mask) photo via United

This interview really helped me to get beyond the headlines and news articles and understand just how difficult and surreal it must have been to be on these flights, from both a crew and passenger perspective. For example, below left is a photo Jillian took of art done by the kids onboard, and on the right are some of the stuffed animals to help comfort them.

You aren’t going to want to miss this one.

Download the episode here or listen below.

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3 comments on “The Cranky Flier Interview #23 – Working United’s Afghanistan Evacuation Flights

  1. Wow, just wow. Tough not to feel love for others (and for our new friends and neighbors) when hearing Jillian and Artemis describe their experiences.

    Thanks so much for doing this interview, Brett, and helping to share these stories.

    This interview will be very tough to top, but I’d love to see a few more “inside look” posts and interviews on the CRAF flights and evacuations.

    1. Kilroy

      I agree with you about the first person accounts of the CRAF flights. They really make you understand and feel pride in how the flight attendants (and other staff) are able to perform under such difficult circumstances.

      It got me thinking about an article that I read of a FA first person account about the last time we had to do an emergency evacuation from a combat zone.

      When you read this FA’s story, you will see it was a lot like what we saw at the Kabul airport.

      The story is not meant to distract from Cranky’s interview, but to show that the FA’s then and now exhibit the same grace under pressure.

      The link is below. I hope you all find her story as incredible and compelling as I did.

      https://www.americanheritage.com/present-apocalypse#1

  2. I almost didn’t listen to this podcast interview, but I’m so glad that I did. I was an Air Force transport pilot during the Vietnam evacuation, and certainly saw plenty of chaos as we transported evacuees. But I was struck by the caring and grace shown by both of the women in your interview. I am delighted that people like them exist, and were involved with this rescue. You did a terrific job with that interview. Thank you.

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