Monday, February 2nd 2009
While checking passengers seated in the Economy Class of a United Airlines flight headed to Washington DC one February morning last year, Trinidad-born flight attendant Jair Massair did not expect to see Barack Obama.
Massair and the other flight attendants were not aware that Obama, who at the time was beating the campaign trail, was going to be on the flight and were totally caught by surprise.
Excitingly she rushed to tell her colleagues of her discovery. They urged her to invite Obama to sit in First Class instead, because they felt the Economy Class was not comfortable enough for the future president of the United States.
Massair, with butterflies in her stomach, walked up to Obama who sat, studiously looking over his documents, and extended an invitation to him to sit in First Class.
But he politely rejected the offer.
"He said to me 'I only sit in First Class if it is absolutely necessary,' " she recounted to the Express, during a telephone interview from her Los Angeles home last week.
Massair said she was taken aback by Obama's humbleness and it was one of the things that had impressed her the most. "He did not mind sitting and mingling with the passengers in Economy. The other senators who were with him on that same flight sat in First Class."
She admitted that she also found him to be extremely "handsome" -she was not the only one. "My girlfriends were all busy fixing themselves and applying lipstick because he was on the plane," she said giggling.
Before the trip was over Massair had asked Obama to take a photograph with her to which he willingly agreed. But little did she know that he was to be the next president of the United States, creating history as the first African- American to head the White House. Now she wants the whole world to know of her up-close encounter with the now very popular US president.
Massair, who has been a flight attendant for the past three years, but has her sights set on becoming a Caribbean film writer and director some day, said meeting Obama was definitely her most memorable experience. "I've met popular person's before, because everybody flies, but meeting Obama was different. Even at that time he had a very strong presence that had you awe-struck ," she said.