Airline Hires First Flight Attendant with Down Syndrome and She Couldn't Be Happier

Pedro Marrero
Apr 10, 2019
08:19 A.M.
Share this pen

A 17-year-old girl named Shantell Pooser became the first American Airlines flight attendant with Down Syndrome on the day of her birthday, leading the way for others who share her condition.


The day Shantell Pooser, who was born with Down Syndrome, turned 17, she proudly put on an American Airlines uniform for the first time and showed up at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina to get started as a flight attendant.

Pooser, affectionately called “Shannie” by her mother Deanna Miller-Berry, suffers from heart disease and breathing problems due to her condition, but as Miller-Berry told CBS News, she was born to defy all odds.



Shannie is an example of someone who chose to find a positive outcome from her struggle with a terminal respiratory illness, discovering her passion in the numerous flights she had to make to Cincinnati for treatments and surgeries.

With 87% of her respiratory tract compromised, doctors initially gave Shannie little hope of living to become an adult, but she took the chances and underwent a life-saving surgery in 2016 that was unlikely to have a positive result.

But even when there was a big possibility for Shannie to come out of the operating room in bad shape, she managed to recover much better than expected, proving to her mother that she had a strong will to live.


"She came out singing 'Let It Go' from Frozen. The surgeons were standing around like, 'We've never had anybody come out of this type of surgery talking... this girl is singing 'Let It Go' in ICU,'" Miller-Berry said.

People with Down Syndrome have a higher risk of suffering from congenital heart defects and respiratory problems. Since nowadays most of these complications are treatable, most people with the condition lead full and healthy lives.



"I made a vow to God. I said, 'Shannie, no matter what you want to do when you get better, we'll make a bucket list and I'll make it happen,’” the impressed mother shared.

“If you live long enough where the doctors can fix you 100 percent, I'll do my best to make your dreams come true,” Miller-Berry told Shannie, who didn’t have to think twice before deciding on what dream to go after.


After having traveled by plane from Denmark, South Carolina to Cincinnati for medical visits, and befriending many flight attendants and pilots, Shannie developed an interest in working for an airline, as she told her mother.

While Miller-Berry initially believed this to be an unrealistic wish on Shannie’s part, she never discouraged her daughter, assuming the mission of trying to make Shannie’s dream a reality instead.

After Miller-Berry wrote to a friend that works as a flight attendant for American Airlines to see how she could do something to fulfill Shannie’s wish she got much more than she was hoping for.


Miller-Berry received a letter from a pilot of the airline telling her that they were planning to throw a birthday party for Shannie inside of a Boeing jet. The company had a very special surprise in storage for the teenager.

While Shannie is unable to fly on long flights on a regular basis, American Airlines figured that since she still has to travel back and forth to Cincinnati often, she could work with the staff during each of those flights.

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

-American Airlines, Twitter, October 16, 2019.


On Shannie’s inaugural flight as part of the crew, passengers noticed her and took pictures and videos to make her story known by everybody, turning her into a viral sensation.

Shannie and her mother can’t be more happy about this, but Miller-Berry hasn’t finished her mission of making every item from her daughter’s bucket list come true, and that includes meeting the Obamas and dance with Ellen DeGeneres.

"I'm really in the business right now of fulfilling her bucket list," Miller-Berry said, sharing that she expects Shannie to be officially employed by the airline when she turns 18.



Down Syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition, with approximately one in every 700 children born in the US presenting the condition, meaning 6000 American babies getting born with it.

People with Down Syndrome have a higher risk of suffering from congenital heart defects and respiratory problems. Since nowadays most of these complications are treatable, most people with the condition lead full and healthy lives.

Every March 21 the world commemorates Down Syndrome Day to raise awareness about this condition and change the narrative surrounding people born with it, with the hopes of further integrate them to society.

Please fill in your e-mail so we can share with you our top stories!
By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy
Related posts

Crying Soldier Is Late for Flight, Staff Tenses as Voice Says, ‘Don’t Let Him Get on the Plane!’ – Story of the Day

May 24, 2022

Flight Attendant Notices Sick Dog on Board and Rushes to Help, Breaking the Rules

February 06, 2022

Couple Learns Their Wedding Is at Risk, Have an Emergency Ceremony Right on the Plane

May 07, 2022

Dad Works Hard to Make Son a Doctor despite People Thinking He Should Not Have Kids

May 16, 2022

Millionaire Mocks Poor Woman with 3 Kids on Business Class Flight until Pilot Interrupts Him — Story of the Day

February 06, 2022

Woman Visits Orphanage She Left 16 Years Ago and Sees a Girl Who Is Her Carbon Copy There — Story of the Day

January 29, 2022

Adoptive Parents Wait for Their Daughter's Birth, See Her Face and Run Away from the Hospital

May 16, 2022

Annette Funicello Was Unable to Eat, Drink & Talk during Her Last Years — Her Husband Never Gave up Hope

March 02, 2022

Woman Thinks She Had a Miscarriage, Late Grandfather Tells Her Babies Are Still Alive in a Dream

April 28, 2022

5-Year-Old Brother Carries His Little Sister's Coffin to Say Goodbye to Her Forever

April 17, 2022

After Millionaire Husband’s Death, Old Widow Is Forced to Live In Dirty Old Trailer – Story of the Day

May 22, 2022

Sons Learn Their Old Mom Gave Her $3.7M Mansion to Young Man Who Isn’t Her Child — Story of the Day

February 18, 2022

Severely Ill Woman Learns Her Surgeon is Her Husband's Ex-Wife He Heartlessly Left 10 Years Ago – Story of the Day

February 07, 2022

Poor Mom Buys Baby Shoes at Flea Market, Puts Them on Her Child and Hears Crackling from Inside — Story of the Day

May 21, 2022