Seattle employee stays “grounded” through kindness and awareness

“Black History Month should be an everyday thing for all people—not just Black people," said Tray Smith. | Photos by Ingrid Barrentine. *any photos without a mask were captured in January 2020 before CDC face covering recommendations.* 

Do you ever just meet someone whose smile and positive energy makes your heart happy? That’s Travion Smith, 31, a ground service agent in Seattle, who always delights his teammates and guests at Horizon Air, Alaska’s regional airline.When asked how he celebrates Black History Month, Smith says “awareness.”

What I want people to take from this month is awareness. If you’re trying to learn about another culture or what’s happening to another culture throughout the years, don’t let that be something that you just do for a month,” Smith said. “There’s hundreds of years of history to explore. I’m always surprised by what I don’t know—I swear I learn something new every year.”

Why do you wear a mask that says ‘Be Kind’? “Wearing a mask is courteous to others—minding other’s safety. Being kind and wearing your mask, same difference,” said Smith.

Smith, originally from Long Beach, California, joined the airline biz a few years ago so he could work outside in the beautiful PNW and easily visit his family in California—his favorite place to fly.

What has it been like working during the pandemic? “It was a little scary at first but safety is key and we really got to see how important our jobs are,” said Smith. “It’s so important we’re able to work, connect people and transport goods.”

Smith is one of 3,500 employees at Horizon Air who has worked tirelessly to run a safe airline this past year. He is also a team captain, which means he is responsible for leading his team in the operation with other employees while handling complex work environments, both in the air and on the ground.

I love the employees that we have,” he said. “You have to treat everyone like family. You gotta understand that everyone has something going on. If we can all get along, if we’re all meshing together, the job is always easier.”

Kellie Nielsen, one of Smith’s co-workers, says “Tray is a hard worker and always willing to jump in to help where needed. And all the while doing it with a smile on his face.”

Tray Smith, Horizon Air Team Captain & Ground Service Agent in Seattle.

While Horizon has broad representation of diversity in all forms among its frontline workgroups, diversity decreases at the leadership levels. Horizon has committed to increasing diversity of its leadership team, a goal Smith supports. He says, having diversity among workgroups and throughout different ranks creates more relatability and perspectives and helps inform good decisions.

When you see other races that are higher up, you think ‘oh, that could be me!’ Or ‘I could potentially be in that same situation and be up there with that person,’ so when you don’t see that, it feels out of reach.”

Learn more about Horizon and Alaska’s efforts to keep guests and employees safe.


  1. You’re right. Everyone should strive to learn more about Black history all twelve months not just one. I’m currently reviewing and learning more about MLK jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, John Lewis, and many other civil rights activists who played pivotal roles during that turbulent time. In regards to aviation, Emorie Malick and Bessie Coleman were the first African-American and African-American woman to be licensed pilots, respectively, and they each have incredible stories for the whole world to know.

    Keep up the great work Tray! I’ll see you on the ramp.

  2. Excellent story, Tray is a shining example of a great teammate, he’s always helping, working hard, and he knows his stuff. He’s also a great leader that makes a difference. I always enjoyed working with Tray on the ramp and now behind the scenes. Keep up the great work!!!

  3. THATS MY TEAM CAPTAIN!! 🤙🏽💯💯 Trey was the one who helped me on my first day, I was a new ramp agent put on spot 12 ,there was an inbound and it was a 40 min turn I was all by myself.

    TREY could’ve just walked by and clocked out but he noticed I was confused and all by myself on spot 12 he said “I got you bro” he helped me bring it in and when it was time to upload it was a bulk out! Meaning we filled up both pits of an E175, we got it out on time and He became my friend from then on!

    I’ll never forget that day because it was my first day on the ramp and Trey was not even a team captain yet!! So that is why I have so much respect for him, he did that and was not wearing an orange vest yet!

    Proud of you brother and happy your getting the credit you deserve, your a hard worker and I’m proud to call you my friend 💯💯🤙🏽🤙🏽🐐🐐

  4. Keep up T.S

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