Spotlight Stories

Gina BallardAmyHarris-SpotlightStory2-(2).jpg

Former Virgin America flight attendant Gina Ballard has only been an American Airlines Federal Credit Union member for six years, but she was delighted to learn that the benefits of membership would stay with her, even after she left the company.

    “I love the small business feel. There’s always someone to help if something goes wrong,” she says of her membership. “I love the direct deposit, the ease of ATMs around the map and the wonderful rates.”

    Maybe that’s why when Gina launched a small business of her own, she turned to the Credit Union for support. “They have provided my small business needs ever since,” she says. “And even though I don’t work in a city where a branch is conveniently located, banking is still possible.”

    Gina even talked her husband Mario into joining, proving her personal relationship goes hand in hand with her financial one.

    “I think it is key to review the relationship you have with money,” she says. “If money were a person, would it like the way you speak to it? If not, change your relationship with money, and that includes where you place it! Choose a good banking solution where it feels good to all!”

Amy HarrisAmyHarris-SpotlightStory2-(2).jpg

In the 27 years Amy Harris has been a Credit Union member-owner (she joined at age 12!) she’s learned a lot about personal finances.

Her dad was an American Airlines employee and Amy estimates she’s had her own Credit Union account for around two decades, a loyalty she says she owes to the Credit Union’s great rates and helpful customer service.

“When I have a question or concern, the representative seems to have a genuine desire to assist, ” she says, “and that is rare these days. ”

Amy enjoys life at home with her boyfriend, son, dog and cat as well as hobbies such as traveling, attending vintage car shows, shopping for antiques and helping her boyfriend restore gas pumps from the early 1900s.

But when we asked her to share any financial advice she’s picked up, class was in session:

  • Always keep a written registry. “No matter what online banking says, only you know what is scheduled to come out of your account. Having that knowledge helps prevent overdrawing the account, fees and embarrassing rejections in public. Then check your account daily to check off the items that have cleared the bank. This also helps by being aware if unauthorized charges happen so they can be addressed quickly.”
  • Always budget before you receive your paycheck. “That way essential items are paid for and there’s never a need to panic. You should know exactly how everything will be allocated so you don’t have the temptation of shopping for something you can’t afford.”
  • Save, save, save. “You can’t borrow for retirement, so start young and don’t withdraw it until you reach retirement age to avoid penalty fees. If your employer has a company match in their 401K, take advantage of it so you’re not leaving money on the table!”
  • Have an emergency fund. “Something will always come up that is unexpected. I could say more on this subject, but I have a feeling I’ve already said too much.”


Sandra PinillosSandra Pinillos

I’m Business Administration graduate from University of the Americas in Medellin, Colombia. I made my practice in the Colombian Chamber of Commerce and as I was finishing my studies, I met the Cuban man who became my husband. He worked for Copa Airlines, and after a while we moved to the United States. In the states I held various jobs until landing a job with Centurion Airlines Cargo, and later on its partner airline, Lynx Global, also in the cargo department called “Freight Forwarder.” It was then when I found my path, practiced my knowledge in my profession and when the company lost its TSA license, I saw the opportunity to start my own business and I went for it.

    I’ve been working very hard to keep moving forward with my business and we are now TSA certified. SP Cargo combines the transportation service of various sources to expand our destination range. When my customers send their freight with us, they are sure to receive efficient, fast and safe service.

     My ex-husband sponsored my membership in American Airlines Federal Credit Union and my parents, children and siblings soon followed. All of us have been using your services throughout the years and when I started my business, I decided to keep it all with the Credit Union. Honestly, I have no regrets for choosing American Airlines Credit Union. Your employees have been an incredible source of support. From the guidance and courtesy received at account opening to the constant support I receive from Julio Berrios and Rosa Lopez at your Blue Lagoon branch. We are more than thankful for your support and solidarity in making sure our company keeps on growing.

Jaqueline JoynerJoynerProfile-(1).jpg

Jaqueline Joyner of Hollywood, Florida, has been a Credit Union member for more than 30 years. She recently shared a story with us about how the Credit Union has helped her enjoy her life:

    “My bills were making it hard for me to pay my rent. Like many other American Airlines employees, I love to travel. My husband and I both love to Jet Ski®, we both have our own motorcycles (road trip!) and we participate in Caribbean carnivals. I guess you can say we’re quite active.

     Also with the Credit Union’s help over the years, we learned how to stick to a budget and save my money and was able to pay $15,000 cash for our wedding. No matter what age you are things can get out of control when it comes to your finances. We have the world at our feet wanting to travel.

      Family issues and health issues can get in the way and before you know it seems like you're starting all over again.

      The Credit Union reps are not only there to help you with your transactions, they give valuable advice. And it all starts with one simple question, ‘What should I do?’”

Tristan Mazzu

It was almost predestined that Tristan Mazzu should go into the airline industry. It seems if jet fuel runs in the veins of most of her family. Her father, Anthony, is an American Airlines pilot. Her mom, Dawan, is a flight attendant and her little brother, Caden, is in college for flight training.

     Tristan has been training and working as a pilot for four years and her dream to fly for the airlines finally became a reality as she was just offered her first airline job!

     “My goal is to become the youngest female Captain!” she says.

      Tristan has been a member of the Credit Union since she was 16 years old and credits her involvement to an employee she met several years ago.

      “I met this amazing woman at the Women in Aviation Conference who gave me tons of advice on getting my first credit card and building my credit score,” she says. “She gave me awesome advice.”

     Tristan says her favorite thing about the Credit Union is all of the help that is accessible to her.

     “There are a lot of things that I didn’t know about financially,” she says, “and as I’ve grown older, the Credit Union has been a huge help to make sure I am making smart financial decisions and building a strong foundation.”

     She’s also happy to share a little bit she’s learned while being a Credit Union member-owner: “Budget and make a financial plan for yourself. It seems intimidating, but knowing where your money is going and how much can help you be the most efficient, especially when you have student loans to pay back!”

Sam Femia

You might think of member loyalty as being faithful to a trusted institution for 10 or maybe even 20 years. But how would you define someone with 60 years of placing his trust in American Airlines Federal Credit Union? We’d call him part of the family.

     Sam Femia joined what was then known as American Airlines Employee’s Credit Union in May of 1956 after he received his first paycheck from American Airlines. The Credit Union was celebrating its 20th anniversary and in those pre-computerized days, our more than 13,000 accounts were still on cards that were updated and filed by hand.

     Sam says he’s enjoyed being a Credit Union member for more than six decades because it was helpful to receive a loan if needed and payments were made through payroll deductions. Of course, the year Sam joined, maximum loan limits increased from just $3,500 to $5,000.

     Sam has seen a lot of history during his membership with the Credit Union. While working as a gate agent in 1963, he met another employee traveling as a non-revenue passenger and that woman went on to become his wife. They now have three adult children, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

     While working as a Passenger Service Manager in Phoenix, Arizona, in the 1960s, he had the opportunity to meet and assist the King himself, Elvis Presley.

     Though Sam retired from American in 1994, he was able to make use of the Credit Union’s financial assistance when needed, even though we didn’t open a branch in his home base of Phoenix until 2015. We’ve got two branches there now, so Sam knows we’ll be there for him, close by, for many more years to come.


Margo Fahringer

As I set my sights high on financial wealth and independence, I cannot do it without the expertise of my Credit Union. I look to them for education on how to best invest my future monies. I will rely and trust that they will have my best interest at heart with compatible interest rates and opportunities before me.

Alison DeBruynIMG_20150802_202637-(2).JPG

As a third generation American Airlines Federal Credit Union member, I have learned the importance of investing in a credit union. My late grandfather, William Strock Jr., worked for American Airlines for 15 years in the 1960s and ’70s. My grandmother still has the account open that he established while employed at the airlines. When you expanded eligibility to include family members, my mother, and her siblings also opened accounts. Subsequently, my mother opened my account when I was just five years old. My grandfather instilled in all of us the importance of working hard and saving for our futures. American Airlines Credit Union has helped us achieve all of our goals. I especially feel honored knowing that I was awarded this scholarship and that it would not have been possible without my grandfather's connection to the Credit Union. While my grandfather is no longer with me, I feel that he is still here helping me prepare for college. Thank you again for your generosity.


Jenna Robinson

My dad has refinanced our house and received automobile loans and has commented on how smoothly and professionally the Credit Union handled his transactions. Even today, my elderly grandmother, who is having memory problems, was in the Credit Union with my mom. My mom came home telling my family about how helpful and compassionate all three employees were who assisted them. The Credit Union truly has a desire to help people.

Verenice Torres De Los Santos

The Credit Union is like a supportive family member that will walk with you through difficult times and give you advice and words of encouragement throughout the walk. It is made up of people who genuinely want the best for others and if they can help members get close to being their best, they will gladly help.

Katelyn-Cappello-Scholarship-Picture_20150226215043169-(1).jpegKatelyn Cappello

My parents instilled lessons in me of dreaming big and whole-heartedly loving what I do. My dream in life is to become an occupational therapist so I can make a difference in the lives of others. In order to accomplish this dream, pursuing a college education is a necessity. With the high costs of college tuition, it appeared to me that my dream might never become a reality simply due to a lack of finances and knowledge about investing, planning and budgeting. But the Credit Union has allowed me to chase after my dreams.

Graham Feyl

This notion of assisting another as they move through life can be epitomized with my experience with American Airlines Credit Union. With secondary education being quite costly, it is a financial endeavor that many students must endure in order to further themselves as future employees. Banks, although they offer many options for loans, are not quick to hand money out to a student who is about to embark on their secondary education journey. A bank turned me down when I asked to receive a loan because they placed me in a paradox: I needed a loan to get credit, but I needed credit to get a loan. The Credit Union stepped in and offered me the loan that allowed me to establish credit. This in-turn gave me financial stability to begin my secondary education. The Credit Union’s philosophy of helping others is reflected in how they helped to assist me in the next step of my life: college.

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