Chuck Eason: The Man. The Myth. The LGA Legend.

If you’ve ever peered out the window of an airplane at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York City to see an aircraft being showered by a water cannon salute or inner-city schoolchildren enjoying a “kids day,” it’s likely you’ve seen the work of Chuck Eason. But it’s what you don’t see that really makes “Chucky,” as he’s affectionately called, a standout among American Airlines’ 120,000 employees.

Some would say Chuck has “institutional knowledge,” but others would just say he is an institution. His 48 years of experience with American comes in handy daily in his role as senior tower planner. “Chucky is the Ramp Control Encyclopedia. All you have to do is ask Chucky. That’s our motto up in the Tower: Ask Chucky,” says Rose Astacio, a manager on duty at Tower Operations.

Chuck’s long-term relationships with the air traffic controllers at the FAA tower have resulted in runway changes that allowed for heavier weight takeoffs, which translates into newly opened seats for passengers who would have otherwise been left at the gate. His close partnerships with Dispatch, pilots and other crewmembers have resulted in last-minute changes that keep the operation moving. “He is all about service. He is all about teamwork and effort for a common goal,” says Flight Attendant Heidi Arby.

Once when all of the printers went out at LGA, Chuck remembered a differently wired computer buried deep within a maintenance area. It worked and Chuck was able to print flight plans, run them out to aircraft and, as a result, 15 different originating flights took off on time. “We deal with all the different departments, and we really have a great chance to smooth out the company’s operation,” Chuck says. “When we get a flight going or we save a big delay, I do get a good feeling.” For Chuck, it’s always about the team. “My Ramp Control Tower, we always keep going. We never get discouraged. My coworkers, I’m very proud of them,” he says.

“Many people have been affected by Chuck’s efforts and aren’t aware of it because Chuck does what he does to help others, not for recognition,” says Captain Chris Redden. But that doesn’t mean Chuck’s efforts have gone unnoticed.

Each year, American Airlines aims to honor 100 team members at the annual Chairman’s Award celebration. This year, 103 employees from across the system are being celebrated. The Chairman’s Award is the highest honor and gratitude that American bestows upon its team members.

“Annual Chairman’s Award winners are customer- and team-member minded, strategic thinkers, capable of Herculean efforts,” says American’s Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “Their dedication to American’s customers, operation and to each other is what the Chairman’s Award is all about.”

This year’s honorees have created cabin repair kits to take care of common issues quickly and prevent unnecessary delays, made passengers feel comfortable and at ease, cared for their colleagues during terminal illnesses and more.

And then there’s Chuck, who has spent years filming Captains’ first flights — and their last, complete with that water cannon salute — and even placing signage in Operations areas to recognize important life events such as the birth of a new baby. It’s the little things that matter most. “Chucky is a brother, a father, a friend, a hero, a mentor to every one of the American Airlines employees at LaGuardia,” says Rose.

So, this year, it was Chuck’s turn. He joined 99 fellow honorees and their guests at the Mid-summer Night’s Dream-themed Chairman’s Awards, which included dinner and dancing. Much deserved for a man who has dedicated his life to serving others. “He has a heart made of gold,” says Captain John Imholz. “When he asks you for a favor, it’s never for Chucky — it’s always for somebody else.”

“It does feel like a family around LGA and Chuck is responsible for that,” says Captain Redden. “I’ve seen him greatly affect the operation, the morale of the crewmembers, and the love he shows for others has greatly affected lives and been a great lesson for us all.”

17 COMMENTS

  1. I worked with Chuck over 30 yrs ago and it was the same. Always a smile – always a positive attitude. Chucky you still ROCK!

  2. I met Chuck in 1978….what a perfect gentleman, exceptional employee and AAbove and beyond help for all.
    He made my new flight attendant years so much better…just knowing Chuck’s phone extension made my life easier. AAlways a friend. Thank you, Chucky!!!

  3. I absolutely love Chuck! He use to greet me in operations by saying “Well, if it isn’t Mrs. O’Connell, Connecticut sky goddess”! Heads would turn to see who he was greeting … And it was just me … But I loved that royal greeting from such a good person … It made my whole day! Thank you, chuck Easton!!

  4. Commander Chuck Eason makes a LGA turn out of Ohare a real pleasure!!! It’s a priveledge to bring him his Chicago Tribune sports section!! Thank you Chuck for all you do and all you have done!!

    Your favorite Chicago Cement Head

    FO Roger Mayer

  5. When this man touches your life – it becomes instantly and forever better. He has been in my life and heart for over 45 years. He is a stellar human being – no one can come close. I am so very happy, Chuck, that – finally-
    you have been recognized. I love you and always will. Thank you for being in my life. Joni

  6. Flying out of the New York area for twenty-two and a half years, it was always a welcome to return, no matter the weather condition, to LGA and hear that familiar voice come from the ramp control tower, “welcome to LGA, Capt Benson and crew”. To me, Chuck was American Airlines, he gave his all for “his” company. To this day we remain friends even though our athletic teams differ from the green of ND and the red of OU. If you want a good conversation besides aviation, ask him sometime about trains. Thanks Chuck for our friendship. Ensign Benson

  7. Chuck was the first voice I heard when I reported to American Airlines operations in 1988. All I remember was his comments about the NY local weather station reporting bad weather and Chuck saying we can deal with it! Here was a man that was totally committed to getting the job done! Another time, whenever I checked in with ramp for prior to taxi, Chuck would say, “Capt Brooks, how are you today!?” “Are your ready to taxi?” Wow, what a guy! Yes, Chuck Eason: “Was the man”.

  8. I remember Chuck in operations and always enjoyed his responses to any question. Good luck in retirement and Join The Three Diamond Society you will enjoy it.

  9. Chuck always there, always pleasant, always a kind word, always a smile, always concerned and always a friend. Thanks Chuck for the many years of friendship, experiences, and fun. NO ONE deserves this award more than Chuck.

  10. I’m retired almost a decade now from American after 30 years as a pilot for that operation. 25 of those years were from the New York base and Chuck was and is an institution in the Big Apple. I have known him since 1978 and he always had a good idea and a quick smile no matter what the conditions. People like him are hard to find and valuable to have around. And on top of it all he is a superb human being. He and “Aunty June” were the best of the best. June retired long ago at this point but when Chuck and June were running Ramp Control there was not a better run ramp tower in the entire system. Chuck if you happen to read this, you are welcome to drop in at my retirement digs in NH and take a ride in an antique plane piloted by an antique pilot. Our guest room is always open to you.

  11. Chuck is the man that keeps LGA/American working despite all the challenges. He well deserves every credit, award, and recognition. Thank you Chuck for all your hard work and expert dedication.

  12. Chuck certainly deserves all the accolades, it made your day to know that “Chuckie” was on duty! Congrats to a great guy, a real friend, and a true legend!

  13. Chuck, you da man! Back when the 727’s had the “clam shell” reverse, terminating night arrivals at LGA were told by Chuck in ramp control, to “shut’em down backwards”!

  14. Chucky Congratulations.You are the “Babe Ruth” of AAL at LGA.Thanks for all the great memories and for being a very Special Friend

  15. Chuck, Your smile made everyone in Operations smile. You were always on a mission to make some crewmembers life a little better that day, and amazingly remembering everyone’s name. I still treasure the poster you gave me of our 757 in classic paint taken at LGA ramp. All the best to you and everyone at AmericanAirlines. Capt. Lou Larocca

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