By Christian Shaffer
Anyone familiar with the authentic Gailen David understands the unlimited strength and conviction at his core; the personal character of a man who understands that leadership — real leadership — is about doing what is right and admitting your mistakes when you make them.
Standing firmly on the ground of what is right for the consumer, he has shown his strength of character time and time again. Companies have a unique opportunity today to prove their ethical and moral commitments to consumers through their actions.
In fact, in today’s social media-driven markets, any company that doesn’t do the right thing will be called out, and Gailen believes that they should.
Consumers and employees should have the power to call out egregious abuses of power when they occur. That’s ethical and it’s brave.
Gailen, visiting one of his favorite spots, Atlantic Models.
It was early in his career as a flight attendant that he first began to feel disenchanted in his customer service position. Despite having been drawn to the career since he was a young child, he found himself hating his job and unable to properly serve the people he was there to help.
He fondly recalls those early days, when he started his first business, a travel agency, at the age of ten in his bedroom. He had dreams to be the best, brightest, and most polished flight attendant in the fleet of Eastern Airlines. Changes in the industry lead him to begin flight attendant training with American Airlines in December of 1987. He began flying out of New York LaGuardia in 1988.
He almost couldn’t believe he had gotten the job he’d always wanted. The destinations, the planes, and the new friends he was making; there was nowhere he’d rather be than at 35,000 feet, onboard an American Airlines Luxury Liner.
However, idealized fantasies have a way of fading as the the years go by. In time, he saw the worst in people, including himself, perpetuated by a corporation that continuously put their own needs ahead of their passengers. It created situations and reactions that could have been — and should have been — avoided.
He had the courage and the creativity to call the outrageous things he saw out into the public eye in very new ways. He made videos and created characters based on the things he saw every day. His Aluminum Lady parody series gained national attention as it poked fun at greedy executives in the airline industry.
He ultimately parted ways with AA after settling a dispute with the company. They parted amicably, despite anything you may have heard to the contrary, and he’s even flown American Airlines regularly for his own travels since.
Upon his leaving American Airlines, Gailen immediately began a production company and went on to create travel-related programming for cable TV. Some of the shows include “Take Off with The Savvy Stews,” & “The Jet Set.”
Gailen has gone on to success as a blogger, producer, managing partner at Airoplex, author of Jetiquette, and owner of the website that bears the same names.
With his days of being a flight attendant long gone, his creativity and ingenuity are now used to bring his vision of civility in air travel into focus. Raised from the dust, Gailen created Jetiquette. A book was published in 2008 and a brand of the same name.
He saw a problem and he had the courage to stand up and point it out. Then, he set out to do something about it. It began by tackling his own attitude toward customers. His book has positive reviews and comments from people in the airlines as well as other industries, thanking him for his perspective and helping them to love their jobs again.
The reality of his life is simple. He is so principled and ethically grounded that when he saw people retiring with ‘golden parachutes’ while others were cast aside, with only unemployment after years of giving their lives to their service, he called it out.
If he is guilty of anything at all, it is certainly of wanting what is right and what is just. Most people agree and Gailen has large audiences who follow him on social media to back that claim up. They know him as a man who is quality-minded, committed to excellence, and dedicated to doing what is right. To this day, Gailen continues his important work as a labor activist.
Work With Gailen
Life isn’t always fair. We know this. Gailen knows this. Sometimes, doing what is right means that you’ll be treated unfairly, and that’s okay. You can recreate yourself and build a reputation based on the excellence that you truly represent.
His business associates and partnerships know him as a consummate gentleman who cares deeply about the integrity of his actions. He’s passionate about building an organization that educates others, in a way that is responsible and professional.
Gailen is now enjoying many successes and has no desire to even think about slowing down. He’s continuing to grow and expand. He’s even seeking new partnerships to work with him through Jetiquette and his other projects.