The Thanksgiving shift: Airport employee

After helping travelers get home on Thanksgiving, Delta agent will join his family for an all-night party.
Courtney Barrett, a Delta Airlines customer service agent with the Airport Experience team, assists passengers with luggage at the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. (Natrice Miller/ Natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: NATRICE MILLER

Credit: NATRICE MILLER

Courtney Barrett, a Delta Airlines customer service agent with the Airport Experience team, assists passengers with luggage at the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. (Natrice Miller/ Natrice.miller@ajc.com)

At an airline, the flight schedule never stops — not at night, not on weekends and certainly not for the holidays.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has planes flying around the world 24/7, 365 days a year — especially when many others are on vacation and trying to get home for the holidays.

That means even on Thanksgiving Day, there are still passengers to check in, bags to handle and planes to fly.

Courtney Barrett, a Delta customer service agent on the airport experience team, has worked for the airline for nearly five years and been on duty almost every Thanksgiving during his tenure.

“I have no problem working on Thanksgiving,” Barrett said. Traveling for the holidays is “very special to a lot of people. For Thanksgiving, they’re trying to get to their family, so it’s good to know that I’m here to try to make it easy for them, just to make sure they get on board to the flight and get to where they need to.”

He said some of those traveling thank him and are “grateful that we’re here.”

Barrett, who is from Jamaica and lives in McDonough, is still able to spend time with family at home on the holiday before or after his shift.

If he has an afternoon shift, he’ll have a big holiday breakfast in the morning with his family, including plantains, eggs and any holiday dishes prepared early like jerk chicken and fried dumplings.

“Then I’ll pack a little plate for myself and take it to work” to have on a dinner break, he said.

This year, Barrett works a morning shift at the airport from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Delta typically has a spread in the employee break room with turkey provided by the company and a potluck of side dishes brought by employees.

Then, when Barrett gets home by around 4:30 p.m., he’ll help prepare for the holiday dinner by making beverages like sweet tea, carrot juice or soursop juice.

Thanksgiving dinner at Barrett’s house is a party, with family coming in from Miami and friends joining in for dishes ranging from jerk turkey to curry chicken, oxtail and jerk pork.

When he walks in the door after his work day is done, there’s still plenty of time to celebrate, he said. “We go all night, pretty much,” he said. It’s “a big, nice cookout.”

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