Southwest Airlines Pilot Awards Millionth Flyer With Free Ride in Cash
Travel| | By Robin Milling
Sometimes, it pays to be a frequent flyer. One passenger was rewarded with more than free air miles when she flew with Southwest Airlines on May 6.
On a flight from Denver to Pittsburgh, Captain John Richie — a former United States Air Force pilot — took to the intercom to make one “special announcement.”
“Twenty two years ago, I retired from the United States Air Force,” Richie said in a Facebook video recorded by flight attendant Jennifer Todd, “I had the privilege of flying F-16s, both as a combat pilot and as a test pilot. For the past 22 years, I’ve been flying for Southwest. Today is a special day. Ever since I started with Southwest, I’ve kept track of the passengers I’ve flown and today I’m flying my one millionth passenger.”
The cabin burst into cheers as Richie continued, “And in honor of that I have a bottle of champagne, and an autographed copy of your boarding card by me. And in addition to that, I did a little bit of snooping and I found out how much you paid for your ticket. So in an envelope I have in cash the amount of money you paid for your ticket.”
In the video, John Richie can be seen walking down the aisle — a bottle of bubbly in hand — searching for the passenger.
The flight attendant is heard suggesting, “if you could just ring your call light.”
John Richie leans over two other passengers — as she’s seated next to the window — to give her the prizes. Todd’s video went viral as it received over two million views, 13,000 shares and over 38,000 likes.
“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,” Todd wrote on Facebook. “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!! ❤??”
This story is good news for the airline industry, which has taken a hit as of late for abusing their passengers.