PHL Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Airport Operations Superintendent John Glass

Airport Operations Superintendent John Glass was recognized in the “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work” category of Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) second round of the Employee Recognition Program. This distinction acknowledges employees who create a positive experience for guests through service and delivery while collaborating with other organizations.       

 At PHL, Glass needs no introduction. You may think he’s running for mayor from all the handshakes, hellos, and conversations he has with people while walking through the terminals. It has a lot to do with the relationships he’s built for nearly three decades. January 31, 2022, will mark his 28th anniversary at the airport.    

John Glass recieves his "Teamwork Makes the Dream Work" award alongside DOA staff. 

Glass handles PHL’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 139 Airport Certification, which includes closing of runways and taxiways for construction, responding to emergencies on the airfield, enforcing FAA rules and regulations, and coordinating with the FAA on anything airfield related. He also ensures airside operations staff and airport tenants follow FAA regulations.  

Glass is an early riser. He gets into work before 7 a.m. to connect with night shift employees before they leave at 8 a.m. He usually inspects the airfield for up to an hour, checking the construction sites, fueling, signs, and lights.  

“I think the most meaningful part of my job is the emergency management planning and the policies and procedures that prevent problems,” said Glass. “I like to think the work I do can help play a role in making the airport safer and reducing the potential of a catastrophe. Working with the FAA, the airlines, DHS, Office of Emergency Management, Fire and Police departments is what I enjoy the most.”  

PHL's Operations team regularly meets and communicates to tackle any issues. They problem-solve together and consider various perspectives. They also uphold rules and regulations and listen to suggestions from operations shift workers. For the operations department, it’s about collaborating and coming up with a solution to the issue.   

“In Operations, we like each other and have a lot in common,” said Glass. “We know what we have to do, and we want to work together to make our operations department the best in the U.S. and the world.”   

In addition to his regular duties, Glass also currently serves as the logistics chief for Operation Allies Welcome and collaborates with multiple agencies including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Office of Emergency Management (OEM), U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Army, along with others to provide a safe environment for refugees.    

Operations Allies Welcome was a 24/7 operation from August-October, with a brief hiatus in September. Operations and security at PHL were set up to handle flights anytime of the day and Glass coordinated staffing in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and A-East baggage claim. The mission is currently continuing with two flights a week.   

In his nomination of Glass, PHL Chief Operating Officer Keith Brune said, “Utilizing his extensive network of contacts, John has been able to make sure all agencies are seeing a common picture of the missions and coordinate with numerous agencies to make sure all pieces are in place for smooth operations.”  

Brune continued, “He has done this not just during his ‘normal shift’ but is totally focused on the mission nights, weekends and holidays, going well above and beyond. The mission thus far has been almost seamless due to the tireless efforts of the Operations group and more specifically, John Glass. We are proud to have him on our team.”  

 “I would like to thank and recognize the TSA staff and leadership who have been involved since the beginning of the operation,” said Glass. “I would also like to thank Airport CEO Chellie Cameron and Chief Operations Officer Keith Brune for their leadership and recognize all the departments and agencies that were involved. Everyone deserves the accolades. I’m proud to be part of the team and be someone that people are looking at as someone of value.”  

One of Glass’ most positive, memorable moments at PHL was when Pope Francis visited Philadelphia in 2015. “It was a year or more of planning with the city and the Secret Service,” said Glass. “It was a huge profile event. It was unique to be within a few feet of the Pope. I recognize the holiness of his position and how people in the world think of him.” 

Glass is a humble behind-the-scenes guy who once carried the luggage of a mother with three kids. “I’m a father, and if I see people struggling, I’m going to help them,” he said.   

Glass has always enjoyed the aviation industry and looked up to his grandfather, who worked at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Management from Florida Aviation (Florida Institute of Technology).    

Since the pandemic, one of the Operations department’s most significant issues has been staffing. Glass and his coworkers have all stepped in to cover different shifts to keep the operations department running efficiently.  

“I hope that one day when I do leave, that I’ve given the staff here what they need to be successful, not just knowing the rules and regulations but also how to communicate with the other agencies effectively,” said Glass.  

The PHL Employee Recognition Program was established by the airport’s Guest Experience (GX) Department. Honorees are nominated by their peers and selected by the GX Council Steering Committee’s Employee Conduct and Recognition Committee. To nominate an employee click here. For more information about the program, click here    


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Christine Ottow
Director of Strategic Communications
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Heather Redfern
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