American Airlines Welcomes First Flight Attendant With Special Needs

By Mitti Hicks


For one South Carolina teen, her dreams of becoming a flight attendant have just come true, thanks to American Airlines.


During a special birthday party at Columbia Metropolitan Airport, 17-year-old Shantell “Princess” Poser, was inducted as a flight attendant earlier this month, making her American Airlines’ first flight attendant with special needs and a terminal illness.


According to the Saving Shannie Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 2015, Shannie has Down Syndrome and is currently fighting an inoperable series of terminal airway defects.


Shantell’s mother, Deanna Miller Berry, told WIS News 10 that the airway defects are known as “laryngomalacia, tracheomalacia, and tracheobronchial malacia.”


Her condition obstructs more than 87 percent of her airways and requires both Shantell and her mother to travel to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital frequently.


Traveling to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is how Shantell fell in love with flying.

“So far, we’ve been on over 57 flights. That’s including the connecting flights, as well, too,” Berry told WIS. “She saw the flight attendant, and she was like, ‘Mommy, I want to be a flight attendant.'”


Dressed in an American Airlines uniform, Shantell showed up to at Columbia Metropolitan Airport for her first day of work earlier this month with a pit crew of her own: her proud friends and family.


Berry described her daughter’s birthday party “a dream come true.”


A tweet sent from Saving Shannie to American Airlines reads, “Thank you @AmericanAir for all that you did to make Shannie’s dream to be a flight attendant a reality we all got the chance to witness.”


American Airlines responded, “Congratulations, Shannie! We’re proud to have her as part of the #fAAmily and are looking forward to sharing the skies with her.”


According to the Saving Shannie Foundation website, Shantell is determined to share her story to help save the lives of millions of other children struggling to breathe just like her.


She just checked off becoming a flight attendant for American Airlines off her to-do-list, and her next goal is to become an author and meet former U.S. President Barack Obama, and former first lady Michelle Obama.

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