12 Times Airlines Went Above and Beyond for Their Passengers
When flights are delayed and everything about travel appears to go wrong, airlines can quickly get a bad rap for poor customer service. Fortunately, these heart-warming stories about companies doing good may restore your faith in the industry.
When Air Canada Flight 608 was diverted because of severe weather conditions to Fredericton, New Brunswick instead of its intended destination of Halifax, Nova Scotia, 150 passengers found themselves stuck on the tarmac for eight hours. The pilot ordered 23 pizzas—according to HuffPost, it was a mix of cheese and pepperoni pies—to be delivered to the stranded plane to feed the hungry folks on his flight. If you have to be stuck on an airplane, cheese and carbs will help ease the pain.
A delayed Mesa Airlines flight left travelers stuck in Tulsa, Oklahoma for approximately five hours. The plane’s pilot treated the patient passengers to burgers, ordering 70 of ’em to feed the hungry (and increasingly cranky) lot. Clearly, this fella took a page from the pizza pilot’s playbook. If you want good customer service, these airlines are tops in the world.
In 2013, WestJet shocked and delighted passengers traveling from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to Calgary in the form of a Christmas miracle. According to the Daily News, a virtual Santa asked passengers what they’d like for Christmas before boarding their flight. Upon arrival in Calgary, these airline customers were shocked to see the very gifts they asked for come down the baggage carousel before their luggage. Presents included a new snowboard and an Android tablet. That certainly took the sting out of holiday travel.
One in a million
For years a Southwest pilot meticulously counted his flights and number of passengers, dating back to his days in the Air Force. On the day when he flew with his one-millionth passenger, he had a special surprise waiting for the lucky lady. According to Thrillist, Captain John Richie gave the woman a bottle of bubbly, enough cash to cover the price of her flight, and even autographed her boarding pass. Not all pilots are as warm and fuzzy as Richie, so read up on these 13 things airlines won’t tell you.
The cost of a plane ticket and associated baggage fees can set travelers back a pretty penny, so imagine how delighted a plane full of passengers on an Allegiant flight were when each was gifted a free round-trip fare from Sanford, Florida to Des Moines, Iowa. Why the surprise? The airline was celebrating its 40 millionth Florida passenger since beginning the route from Sanford to Des Moines in 2005.
One engaged couple was feeling the love for Southwest when the airline threw them a surprise wedding shower at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport. The party came to be after the groom, Andy McIlvaine, shared his plans to propose to his long-distance girlfriend with some Southwest flight crew members on his way to do so in October 2014. The employees gifted him a $100 travel voucher and wished him luck. McIlvaine penned a letter to the airline’s CEO thanking him for the company’s generosity. They stayed in touch, then when the now-engaged couple was at BWI in April 2015, Southwest threw the airport shower and even flew in the bride’s mother and sister for the fun event. You may not get a free wedding shower, but these tips take the stress out of travel.
Going for the gold
Training for the Olympics is expensive and often the stories of the families behind these elite athletes go untold. Last year United Airlines decided to help Bradie Tennell, a Chicago-based figure skater headed to the 2018 Winter Olympics. The company provided free air travel for Tennell’s mom and two brothers to Pyeongchang, South Korea so they could support their girl in her Olympic efforts. According to the Chicago Business Journal, Tennell’s mother was already working two jobs simply to pay for her daughter’s skating so this act of kindness was a huge gift for the family.
Airport goodbyes can be brutal, particularly in a day and age when you can’t even walk a friend or loved one to the gate, but rather leave them before security. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, known for launching promotional campaigns that go viral, warmed the hearts of passengers on a flight from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands with their “Cover Greetings” campaign. They filmed loved ones saying goodbye at the airport, then asked the person saying goodbye to record a personal message for the traveler, which they played on their flight. Talk about a sweet send-off. They can’t take away the emotional goodbyes, but these are 16 air travel tips you should know before boarding that plane.
Not everyone has the ability to go home for the holidays, whether it has to do with being cash-strapped or travel logistics. In 2013 JetBlue surprised would-be travelers with free flights to see their families. The airline scanned Craigslist rideshare requests looking for folks who were desperate to get home. They then set up video chats with these unsuspecting folks who thought they were simply talking to someone who was willing to share a car ride and instead offered them the surprise flights.
Getting up for an early flight can be a real drag, but a planeload of Alaska Airlines passengers were given a good laugh when the company chose to celebrate Ugly Sweater Day in a festive way. They gifted travelers on a flight flying out of San Jose International Airport with, you guessed it, ugly holiday sweaters, coffee, hot chocolate, ornaments, Santa hats, and games. An ugly sweater might keep you cozy on a plane, but here’s what air travel really does to your body.
Second time around
You spend months planning a wedding only to have the big day go by in a flash. A flight attendant on Southwest Airlines decided to extend the joy for a pair of newlyweds en route to their honeymoon destination, according to ABC News. After the couple ordered a whiskey to start their vacation celebration, the flight attendant fashioned a veil out of toilet paper and gave the duo an in-flight wedding ceremony. How fun is that?
Expanding one’s family is a special time, especially when you’re going from being a couple to having your first child—and these days the pressure is on to make the announcement in a big way. A woman on a flight bound from Tampa to Chicago asked the pilot if he would spill the beans to surprise her husband. In a note to the flight crew, ABC6 says Audrey Rose let them know she’s pregnant and wanted to surprise her hubby. The pilot obliged, taking to the announcements to let everyone know the Roses in aisle 28 were smuggling an extra passenger—their unborn baby. Needless to say, the papa-to-be was shocked and excited. Want more warm fuzzies? Check out these funny stories from airline veterans.