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  • Manny Crisostomo /

    Flight attendant Judy Chevreuil has gone through big changes since 9/11. After her pay and benefits were cut, she took on a second job as a balloon artist.

  • Manny Crisostomo /

    THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT Judy Chevreuil, 50 Folsom

Reflections of 9/11: The flight attendant

Published: Sunday, Sep. 11, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 6X

Judy Chevreuil, 50, Folsom

"I just knew, after seeing those planes hit the twin towers, that our innocence was gone and the world was going to change," said Chevreuil, a flight attendant for United Airlines.

"But I didn't know how greatly all of us would be affected. Nothing has been the same ever since that day, and it never will be."

Chevreuil has worked as a flight attendant for more than two decades. Since the terrorist attacks, Chevreuil has seen United fall into bankruptcy and had her pay and benefits slashed. New security measures have made flying more of a chore, even though "I still rejoice in my job," she said.

To make up for lost income, Chevreuil has taken on a second job as a professional balloon artist, twisting up elaborate creations at fairs and festivals. "Jammin' Judy" also makes space aliens, animals, mermaids and Mickey Mouse ears for her airline passengers, especially the young ones.

"It adds a little fun to the flight," Chevrueil said.

Chevrueil, a mother of two, was scheduled to work a flight to Germany on the day of the attacks but stayed home when she learned all domestic flights were canceled. "I wanted to be with other flight attendants, people who understood my pain," she said. "We set up a phone tree, and comforted one another."

She put on her uniform and got back on a plane seven days after the attacks.

"I was not afraid," she said. "But it was a tender time. We were not focused on service anymore, but safety. It was, 'Batten down the hatches.' This was the new normal."

Chevreuil usually attends a memorial ceremony on the anniversary of the attacks, but this year she expects to be on the job. In the air. And remembering that horrific day.

"The whole crew will be thinking about it, absolutely," she said. "How could we not?"

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Read more articles by Cynthia Hubert

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