Flying The Friendly Skies Friday: Traveling With Heroes; Mile-High Celebrations

Around these parts, we hear our share of the frustrating, the woeful and the all-out angry. But when we catch hold of an idea that brings out the happy and rewarding stories of customers, we like to celebrate it. This week in Flying The Friendly Skies Friday: Honoring the best among us, celebrating in mile-high style.

In 2005, I went to visit my dad during the week of Labor Day. You may recall this was just a few days after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. I don’t remember for certain which airline I flew, but I think it was Delta.

On the flight to Austin, the captain made an announcement when we flew over New Orleans, but we couldn’t make out much from that altitude. The return flight was at night, so we couldn’t see anything, but as we approaced Ft. Lauderdale, the pilot announced that we had some special passengers on the flight — volunteer workers who had been involved with the rescue and recovery operations in the areas affected by Katrina. He said that if it was alright with the rest of us, he would like us to remain in our seats while the volunteers exited the plane first. Of course, nobody objected, and they left to a round of applause.

Flying Southwest from Denver to Omaha, our flight attendant threw out some of the wittiest lines I’d ever heard from the safety lecture. I wish I could have recorded the whole thing, but one jewel I remember:

“If we thought a sudden change in cabin pressure was likely, your crew would not have shown up for work tonight. Nevertheless, please make sure to adjust your oxygen mask first before assisting the child with the most college potential.”

By the time he had finished, the whole cabin was laughing and in a cheerful mood. This was on a flight that had been delayed nearly 30 minutes because another incoming flight was late, and they wanted to make sure 9 passengers made their connection since this was the last flight out for the evening. Nobody seemed to mind a bit.

At the end of March 2013 I traveled with my (junior high age) niece and nephew to Japan to visit my brother over spring break. On our return, we had very little time at the airport to check in, but the ANA agent who helped us check our bags literally ran with us through the airport, took us through the flight staff security, helped us quickly get through customs, and helped us wrangle our bags at a full run to the departure gate with just a few minutes to spare before the plane taxied away.

She clearly went above and beyond with this amazing customer service, and saved us from having to negotiate changing our flight or staying another unplanned night in Tokyo, and certainly gained my loyalty to the airline insofar as possible.

I was on a flight going home from Phoenix to Las Vegas on Southwest. There were some storms in the area and we hit rough turbulence approaching Vegas near Lake Mead. The flight attendant came on the intercom and announced “All passengers please close your window shields and hit the call button.” We did so wondering why. She then continued “Today is [forgot name]’s birthday! He’s 81 and today is his first time on an airplane.” We sang Happy Birthday to him and he blew out his candles (the call buttons) and they gave him a small cake. Nicely done Southwest FA’s.

Do you have an uplifting tale that made your whole day take off? Forgive me the pun and send your FTFSF stories to

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