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Southwest Airlines Pilot Treats One Millionth Passenger To Paid Plane Ticket, Champagne

Southwest Airlines ERIC SALARD / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

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Southwest Airlines Pilot Treats One Millionth Passenger To Paid Plane Ticket, Champagne

For Southwest Airlines pilot Captain John Ritchie, it is milestone worthy of celebration. Onboard a recent flight from Denver to Pittsburgh, he flew his one millionth passenger. And when he did, he thought he would go ahead and give a little surprise.

During the flight, Captain Ritchie suddenly appeared in front of his passengers who are already settled in their seats. This is when he decided to make a special announcement. “We have a load sheet that tells us how many passengers are on the airplane so I kept count from day one,” he began. “A few weeks ago my one millionth passenger walked on the airplane.”

Captain made a special announcement during the flight.

According to Captain Ritchie, he never thought he would be around in his career long enough to see this day. “I really didn’t think I’d reached that [many passengers]. You just never know how long your career is going to be,” the veteran airline pilot explained.

Captain Ritchie has been flying for Southwest Airlines for more than 22 years now. Prior to becoming a commercial pilot, Captain Ritchie had been an Air Force Pilot. Today, Captain Ritchie is not about celebrating his distinguished career. Rather, he believes it’s time to celebrate his passengers.

For his one millionth passenger, Captain Ritchie prepared a special gift. For starters, he got a bottle of champagne. While making the announcement, he also confessed that he “did some snooping” to find out the special passenger paid for the plane ticket. He was determined to reimburse the passenger for the ticket out of his own pocket. Meanwhile, the captain decided to identify his one millionth passenger by walking down the aisle and handing the gifts over in person. As he did, everyone on the plane cheered. According to a report from Travel Pulse, the flight captain also autographed the passenger’s boarding pass.

Southwest Airlines has not released the identity of the lucky passenger. However, a photo posted by the airline shows the Captain with a woman holding a bottle of champagne with a big smile. Clearly, Captain Ritchie’s surprise has made her very happy.

ALSO READ: Mom Grateful To Flight Attendant Who Helped Calm Baby During Flight

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About Jennifer Ong

Jennifer Ong has been covering and writing stories since 1998. Over the years, she has worked on stories on business, health, lifestyle, entertainment and travel. She has also previously written shows for television. When she's not on the job, she enjoys wine and Formula 1.

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