There’s a kinship in the airline business that transcends company uniforms. Just ask two Southwest Airlines pilots who are now singing praises to United Airlines.
In an internal story shared with Live and Let’s Fly, the act of kindness came in Pittsburgh.
A Southwest Airlines pilot and first officer had just landed in Pittsburgh (PIT) from Chicago (MDW) and were due to head back. But upon landing in PIT they received news that the MDW control tower had closed after one of the air traffic controllers fell ill to COVID-19.
With their flight cancelled and uncertainty in the air, the two men reserved a car and planned to drive back to Chicago, a journey of seven hours on I-80. While leaving the terminal to pick up the car, they passed a United Airlines customer service desk.
A friendly United agent asked them where they were headed. When the pilots mentioned their predicament, two agents sprang into action. United had a flight to Chicago (ORD) that was about to leave, as in being fully boarded and ready for pushback. They radioed the gate and told the agent to hold back on closing the aircraft door. The two pilots were booked and rushed to the gate.
Even if Southwest pilots can use non-revenue/employee standby benefits to get on United, it was too late for this flight…it took going the extra miles to get them home.
United shared a note written by the Southwest captain to the United team in PIT:
“Not only were your employees working hard and giving great customer service to your customers, but they even went way out of their way to get us, competitors and freeloaders, home. I am so glad that, while we work for different companies, we all still work as one big family. Let me know how and when Southwest can return the favor.”
For all the scorn we like to heap upon airlines (much of it deserved), there are stories like this that make me smile. We should all work on going the extra mile for those in need during this very difficult time. Kudos to the United customer service agents in Pittsburgh who spared the Southwest pilots from a grueling drive.