AWESOME: Check Out How A Southwest Captain Surprised His Millionth Passenger

Filed Under: Southwest, Videos

Boy, does this put a big smile on my face. In the same week that we have a Delta flight attendant threaten to send parents to jail and kids to a foster home (WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?), we also have a Southwest pilot doing something that I can’t help but share.

This past weekend a Southwest captain who has been flying for the airline for 22 years (after being in the air force) carried his millionth passenger. He claims he has been tracking the number of people he has flown since he started at Southwest, and as a reward, he gave that special passenger a bottle of champagne, and an envelope with the cash that she paid for her ticket (which apparently came out of his own pocket).

Here’s the awesome video:

And here’s the commentary from one of the flight attendant who was on his flight:

I was scheduled to fly DEN to PIT this Sat, my Capt arrives and tells me in the past 21 years he’s worked here at SWA, he’s kept track of all the passengers he’s transported and turns out his 1 MILLIONTH (!!!!) passenger is on this flight. He arranged to have champagne, planned on making an announcement, and found out exactly who his 1 millionth passenger was and then if that wasn’t enough, he figured out exactly how much she paid for her ticket….put that much (out of his OWN pocket!) in an envelope and presented it to her. I am so incredibly proud and humbled to be able to “work” for this amazing LUVing airline. Captain John Charles Ritchie, you, sir, are the epitome of everything Southwest stands for and continues to even though we’ve grown so incredibly much over these past 45 (+) years. Without a heart, it’s just a machine!!

What a great story, especially given the other stories in the media about how some bad apples in the industry are treating customers.

  1. 1. How did he get a bottle of champagne past security?

    2. How did he find the passenger on board if WN doesn’t do seat assignments?

  2. Is the commentary not from somebody who works for southwest (?FA), rather than a passenger?

  3. God, I wish they had a premium cabin. Or JetBlue on all routes. UA/AA/DL, with all their bad PR and shaming of REAL airlines, are a disappointment to fly anymore. I’m seriously contemplating giving up my UA status, despite frequent upgrades to F, to just buy B6 EMS seats outright.

  4. Thats great news…

    Qsar, its easy to buy a bottle of champagne at the airport. Those duty free shops.

  5. @ Drav — You’re absolutely right, was one of the flight attendants. Updated the post to reflect that. Thanks.

  6. @ qasr — Crew members are exempt from the liquids ban when in uniform. In terms of how they knew which passenger, I suspect he told the gate agent to let him know which passenger was in whatever slot he was hoping for, and then he knew the name. Just a guess.

  7. @Emirates4Ever, they are no longer US3. They are LowCost Airlines3. Southwest is the only full service airline in America.

  8. @Emirates4Ever – Two years ago on a Delta flight from NRT-JFK, the purser came over to me about an hour before landing with a bottle of champagne and told me he knew that leg was the one that made me Diamond for the year. And he hoped the champagne worked as a bit of congratulations. It was a very nice gesture.

    All airlines have the capacity to be good and bad.

  9. I’m retired from WN. The Capt has someone from provisioning cater the aircraft with champagne. We did it all the time for special occasions.

  10. I love this. A demonstration of positive humanity.

    @Jarrod State – the back label looks more like Korbel sparkling wine. Shape is different from DP and too yellow.

  11. The bottle is Korbel which Provisioning can bring to the aircraft when requested ahead of time for special occasions (anniversaries, honeymoons, etc). And if the pilot has kept track he must have known that he was going to hit 1 million on this leg, asked the gate agent for the passenger list which can be shown in boarding position order, therefore figuring out more or less who was the 1 millionth and how much that customer paid. I know for a fact this wasn’t a publicity stunt from SWA. Pilot did this on his own.

  12. @ Neil S Nice and how much money did you have to give to Delta for this “complimentary” gesture?

  13. “…the chick who won it seems super ungrateful.”

    Perhaps, Angus brah, the woman who was the recipient of the captain’s largess is very shy. Today’s lesson: Not everyone who receives an unexpected surprise is going to jump up and down screaming and smiling and/or crying.

    Now say that out loud until you memorize it.

    You’re welcome.

  14. @TravelinWilly – couldn’t agree more. She looks painfully shy.
    @Angus – she said “thank you” 3 times – what more do you want?

  15. If a captain paid for my ticket the very least I would do is stand up and thank him but I guess that’s just me.

  16. Pilot seems like a good dude. And he’s probably been looking forward to giving that surprise for a long time. The passenger is a disgrace. Stand up and shake the man’s hand.

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