Bret Baker welcomes customers aboard a Boeing 757 wearing a three-piece suit and a sparkling smile. His manner is all Friendly Skies but his pocket patch bears the seal of the Vice President of the United States, signaling that this is government business.
And though his brass name tag reads, simply, “Bret,” make no mistake: That’s Air Force Tech. Sgt. Baker ensuring that seat belts are fastened and carry-ons securely stowed. He’s also responsible for making sure meals have been prepared for dozens of passengers who really didn’t have time to pick up snacks before boarding, and whose far-flung destinations may not include safe or familiar foods.
Baker is a military flight attendant, part of a team serving America’s top government officials, their staffs, guests and reporters aboard 19 planes flown by the 89th Airlift Wing out of Joint Base Andrews near Washington. Their customers include the president, vice president, first lady, secretary of state, secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Some of the folks the Air Force serves are starting to think they are entitled to this level of treatment.
Look, I’m all for the President of the United States being accorded an appropriate level of … comfort. But how far down the list of government workers should that extend? My opinion? Not very far.