Customer serviCe really Pays
An Interview with Signature Flight Support’s Chief Operating Officer, maria sastre
If you only look at Maria Sastre’s biography on Forbes.com or
Bloomberg.com you’d be left impressed—she has a long history
of rising through the ranks of the customer service and hospitality side of first the commercial airline industry, then the cruise
liner industry, with stints as the CEO of a major non-profit involved in helping at-risk teens obtain a college education. She
has sat on the board of directors of several large companies in
the restaurant and food distribution industries. And now she
runs the day to day operations for 102 FBOs worldwide (and
does so with the intent of preserving and enhancing the classic
Learning she was born in Cuba, and emigrated to the U.S. as
a child, and achieved all this as one of the first in her family to
graduate from university, begins to touch on the depth and devotion that Maria Sastre has for her career. Knowing that she finished an MBA while raising a young son as a single mom and
working full-time tells you about her grit and determination to
rise to her own full potential.
But talking with Sastre, and listening to her passion for general aviation, quality service and common sense, will, I hope,
inspire you, as she did me.
Maria, how is it that you learned about Women in Aviation,
I went to the WAI Conference in Denver, Colorado. I was
the first female operations manager of any U.S. airline in
1999, I think. I was with United Airlines then. We stayed at
the Adam’s Mark Hotel. I’ll never forget it. I remember because Stapleton was still open. And it was the first time that
United had us participating in the Conference. We were surprised to see other women! We didn’t understand the scope
and the breadth of the participation of women in the whole of
the aviation industry. We just went, WOW! Look at all these
women! We became quite committed to the organization because it was such an incredible eye-opener.
United Airlines was not your first job with an airline
though, was it?
Oh no. I started just as deregulation came about....in the
1970s....when airlines were focused on service. And so many
of these businesses couldn’t change fast enough with deregulation and went out of business, including my company, Eastern Airlines.