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This year, a handful of airlines and their employees have made headlines for poor treatment of passengers, but that doesn't mean all or even most flights get a bad rap. Here is a delightful story about a pilot from Southwest Airlines who recently treated one passenger like a star. Captain John Richie of Southwest Airlines reached the extraordinary milestone of flying his one millionth passenger. Instead of making the moment all about himself and his achievement, Richie marked the occasion by giving the lucky rider a bundle of gifts. Take a look at the video of the special event:
In the video, Captain John Richie explained he began his flying career with Southwest Airlines 22 years ago after retiring from his job as a combat pilot and test pilot with the United States Air Force. Richie began keeping count of his passengers when he became a pilot for Southwest Airlines. The expert pilot reached the career milestone of flying his one millionth passenger and decided to make it special for her with a bunch of presents. Richie gave the surprised woman, Miriam Krieger, a bottle of champagne and a copy of her boarding card with his autograph on it. Plus, he found out how much the passenger paid for her seat on the domestic flight from Denver to Pittsburgh, and he reimbursed her with an envelope of cash in that amount.
What an incredible gesture! This kind of news is a welcome change from reports about airlines and their employees treating passengers poorly, and there have been a lot lately. Earlier this year, for example, United Airlines found itself in a storm of controversy after photos documented the violent removal of a doctor from a flight due to an airline oversight. Then Delta Airlines landed in hot water with a similar story about a family removed from a flight after refusing to give up a seat for a child on an overbooked flight. A mother on an American Airlines flight was in tears about a dispute regarding a stroller this year. Plus, there was an additional United Airlines story about a disabled man who was not allowed to bring a Segway on a flight to his recent honeymoon, despite having permission to bring the necessary device.
So far, Southwest Airlines has dodged this string of negative stories. In fact, the company has made positive headlines by announcing it would remove the policy of overbooking flights. Now with this fantastic report about Captain John Richie and his lucky passenger, the company is looking friendlier than ever.
With all of those unfortunate stories in the news these days, we wonder if the passengers felt a sense of uncertainty when Captain John Richie began talking. Of course, once he announced his intentions, the crowd cheered happily, and so did we. This feel-good story is a much-needed reminder that there are many excellent airline employees out there.