Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Captain Joe Saves the Day

Not applicable


There is always a lot happening in the jetway during Passenger Boarding and my recent HOU-SAT flight was no exception.
 
I like to stand near the main cabin door to say hello to our Passengers, answer their questions, and welcome them aboard. During this particular flight, the quiet of the jetway was shattered by a high-pitched scream from a small boy who was not at all happy about getting on the airplane. Mom was frazzled, carrying about three bags over her shoulders and holding another, while Dad was trying to convince his five-year-old son, Alex, that everything would be fine.
 
Alex was obviously not convinced.
 
This was not your every day scream, it was a wail of indescribable intensity and pitch. This was a scream of abject fear that only a child who felt that he was in mortal danger could muster up. A scream that would give one chills.

I went out in the jetway to see if I could help the Dad and help to calm Alex. He seemed a little better when his Dad explained that I would be their pilot to SAT.  His Dad told me that their flight to HOU had been very turbulent, and Alex didn't like it at all and was very scared to fly now. I followed Alex and his Dad to the row where Mom had picked out three seats.  Alex continued his screaming. Boarding Passengers knew they were in for a rough trip if Alex couldn't be calmed down, and there were many "looks" in the direction of the family.

I asked Alex if he would like to come to the cockpit, and a women one row in front of him said, "Please take him!"

Alex absolutely loved the flight deck with all the bells, whistles, lights, and noises. He asked me if we could fly "very low" and as he said this he moved his little hand like an airplane flying over the top of the seat cushion. I assured him we would fly low, assuming that he thought if we flew low it would be a nice ride to San Antonio. By this time Alex and I were buds and after I took his picture sitting in my seat, I carried him back to his folks. He had his arm around my neck and the screaming had stopped, as had his tears. Alex was a happy little boy and so were the rest of my Passengers. The applause from the cabin made Alex smile, and we all enjoyed his flight home.

53 Comments
Not applicable
Thanks so much, Captain Joe--LUV this story, and you for being such a caring Servant Leader :-). xoxo, Colleen Barrett
Not applicable
I love Southwest...
Not applicable
Great story! Once again proves why I ONLY fly Southwest. Great customer service!!
Not applicable
Thanks for going above & beyond! I've got grandkids and I know how important it is to give reasonable reassurance; something they can measure. Your extra effort made the flight better for everyone, I'm sure.
Not applicable
Nice job Captain, sounds like you turned a potential aerophobic into a future pilot!
Not applicable
That is an Awesome Story, as a mother of two, I know the fears of little boys. and it amazes me how often, mothers and fathers forget about that, when it is no longer their child doing the screaming. I am sure you were a great blessing to that mom, and that little five year old will be telling this story to his grand children.one day, as I am sure you will be as well. God Bless You!
Not applicable
That's a great story, and I have another SWA pilot story. I flew back from somewhere to BWI, was out of the airport and almost to I-95 when my cell phone rang. A gentleman told me that I had left my iPad on the plane (I had a business card taped to the inside flap of the case). I said, "Oh, shoot. Can you wait there? I'm coming right back!" He said, 'Well, no, I have to fly off in a few minutes, but I'll make sure it gets down to SWA lost baggage." I said, "When does your plane leave?" He said, "It's the same plane you were on. I'm the captain." I was flabbergasted. I got back to the airport, and the iPad was right where he said it would be. I couldn't believe it.
Not applicable
What a heartwarming story. Airlines need more thoughtful captains like this one. Not only did he calm the boy's fears but he spared his passengers of a screaming child. Good work!
Not applicable
Who knows? You might have helped to create a future pilot for Southwest!!
Active Member
Joe, as your colleagues across the pond would say, "good on ya." 🙂
Not applicable
Great story!!
Not applicable
Great Job Capt.... you just made Southwest another loyal customer and gave a memory to a little boy he will never forget. Spread the LUV
Not applicable
This just is another example that there are REALLY good people out there!!! Mothers from everywhere thank you for being so sympathetic and helping instead of condescending.
Not applicable
Joe - You just flew with my "Dan" and this brought a smile to my heart! I would love to say you are the exception to the rule for our SWA pilots but I know most of our pilots would have done the same! It is just how the culture goes at Southwest! I know Dan really enjoyed being your First Officer on your trips together! Keep spreading the SWA Culture! What a great blog and you may have just met the next generation of our pilots in that little guy! - DeCole
Not applicable
Great story thanks for sharing Southwest is a GREAT airline I was happy when they came to MSP
Not applicable
amazing stories as always from a company full of LUV!
Not applicable
As other have said, this is why I am a loyal flyer with Southwest Airlines. Thank you Captain Joe!
Not applicable
Captain Joe! Great story! I have one of my own.....Not sure if you are the same Captain, but I have a VERY similar picture of my son sitting in the pilot's seat from about 4 or 5 years ago. We were on our way to Nashville, and the pilot asked if my son would like to see the cockpit. He loved it! The pilot took down our address and said he would send us the picture - we figured, "Sure - we will never see it". But we were wrong! Weeks later, we got the picture and a personal note in the mail! Such a nice thing to do! I love flying Southwest.....it just made our day! Thank you!!!!
Not applicable
I fly often and only fly Southwest. The crew is wonderful and very pleasant. Once I even had a flight attendant that joked and even sang songs about Southwest. How pleasant and it make the trip go by so quickly. I am disabled and the captain himself actually took me by the hand and escorted me to my seat, joking and talking, he made me feel very at ease. I love to fly Southwest and only Southwest. I just hope once the transition of Air Tran is completed, it will be the same and no changes. I must say the folks on Tran Air are not as friendly as Southwest. Maybe Southwest will train the Air Tran crew. lol Thanks for a sweet story, I just wonder if that was the same pilot I had? Keep up the good work Southwest. 🙂
Not applicable
Good for SWA! I would expect other airlines would have called the cops and set the family off! All it takes is a little bit of LUV!
Not applicable
OUTSTANDING, Captain Gautille! Your human relations skills are excellent! A few decades prior to my becoming a pilot, my grandfather had been captain aboard a flight in which I was a passenger, and the nose wheel blew as we were on our takeoff roll out of Frankfurt, Germany. Rather than hearing a very young, terrified child screaming for mother, the entire passenger compartment heard me screaming for my grandfather. The incident was also long before the post-911 security doors at the cockpit, so my grandfather heard me as well. Upon stopping the jet, he asked the senior flight attendant to bring me to the cockpit, where he wiped my tears away, and said, "Here, push this button ... it's the horn." I was too young to understand that the plane was not equipped with a horn, however, just as you succeeded with Alex, my grandfather calmed me by distracting me, and showing me that everything was fine. From then on, I was fascinated with everything in the cockpit, and it led to an insatiable desire to fly, and to volunteer my time and skills as a private pilot. Thank you for a wonderful anecdote, which opened a dormant, but fond memory of my [similar] experience with my grandfather. May you long have good health, faithful friends, much happiness, and safe flights everywhere. Sandra S
Not applicable
Thank you, Captain Joe for sharing this wonderful story and photo. Gotta luv my Southwest. Been flyin you guys from the time you had three airplanes. Keep up the good work. Thanks again, Adolph
Not applicable
Aww. That's why I love working for SWA !!!
Not applicable
I love this story, it is so nice to know that others care!!!! Thank YOU for being a nice GUY!!!!!!!!! From someone who flys Southwest. Thank You, Norma Jean
Not applicable
Southwest is awesome !!! It's my first choice & my preferred airline. Thx Capt Joe, may I be blessed one day on one of your flights.
Not applicable
Exactly the kind of thing that makes me so proud to work for such an amazing company!
Not applicable
Thank you Joe for your Fun luving attitude. It's people like you that make life good. Can't wait to be part of your team! From your AirTran Family!
Not applicable
Awesome... good job on the captain's part... being an anxious flyer myself I can appreciate what he did to soothe the little boy's fears. I too love flying SW - they are definitely more customer friendly.
Not applicable
I have a little one myself, and I am so greatfull of the way Southwest handles little ones! Great job Captin, you and the rest of southwest are the reason i will ONLY FLY SOUTHWEST!!!!
Not applicable
~~Such a sweet story~~
Not applicable
Wonderful story! Thank you for sharing! I fly SWA every chance I get..from STL to SAT. Often we forget how everything looks as a child and how to put ourselves in their position...literally. Things are much more frightening from their view...lean down and see for yourself! Now this little boy will have his good experience to remember and be ready for his next flight!
Not applicable
I love flying Southwest Airlines! They are almost always on time and if not, they are the first to admit it and offer their apologies. The crew members are always so friendly and this all equals an enjoyable flight. They also go to great measures to let you (the customer) know that they appreciate you and value you. This is something that other airlines do not demonstrate on a consistent basis. Anytime that I can, I fly SWA and I always end up as a happy, satisfied customer!
Not applicable
Being the mother of a son like Alex, I have been in his parents' shoes more than once. Luckily we had a great flight staff AND fellow passengers. If all can think of their biggest fear and offer compassion instead of dirty looks, it will be a better experience for all! Thank you Capt. Joe for being awesome!
Not applicable
Southwest is the BEST.
Not applicable
You guys are AWESOME as always. Southwest Airlines = going above and beyond 🙂
Not applicable
Lovely story, thanks for sharing Cap, I have a 6 years old myself and looking foward to our first flight together soon...... It will must likely be to Orlando ........we open EWR sunday btw : )
Not applicable
Thank you so much for sharing this sweet story. Even more than making the flight peaceful for everyone else, you gave little Alex peace--what a gift!
Not applicable
As professional business jet charter Captain, stories like this are the reason why SWA is the only major carrier that I'd LUV to fly for. Their culture, attitudes, and professionalism are top notch. And as a frequent passenger on SWA myself, I observe things like this quite a bit. It's very refreshing to say the least. Thank you to all the SWA flight crews and ground crews that strive to work hard to provide the customer service (and safety) they're famous for!
Not applicable
Nice work! Thank you so much on behalf of this little boy, the family, and all the passengers!
Not applicable
Way to go Captain Joe!! Coming up with a creative solution to this problem takes a master. No surprise though, as this is the type of care & concern displayed by Southwest on every one of my flights. My guess is if the pale-in-comparison-competition were confronted with the same problem, the flight team would have also shot the family the "looks". It takes people like you to make a company and a planet great and that's the main reason I like doing business with Southwest. It would be an honor to hear the words "This is Captain Joe" on a future flight so I can thank you personally.
Not applicable
Yay, Captain Joe!! Got to love Southwest!
New Arrival
Great job again by another great employee of the Best Airlines in the U.S.
Not applicable
I always try to fly Southwest. It's affordable, courteous etc., etc., My son is a contractor in Afghanistan and is coming for vacation to meet me in San Jose. Since I am on disability, he is paying for my ticket. No matter how much I requested, he is paying to fly me on another airline. While I am grateful to him for paying for my ticket, I am skeptical about the experience that I will have. I already am having to pay out $25.00 for a bag to be checked. It's a lot more for a second bag that I would have liked to take and fill with gifts for my Great niece and nephew. We'll see how it goes.
Not applicable
Oh my goodness!! Couldn't believe when I clicked on this link that it was Capt. Joe Gautille! Susie Gautille is my "Bingo Buddy"! I am actually going to bingo tonight and will see her. Can't wait to print this out and show it to her!! It really is a small world!
Not applicable
I'm sure my late father, who flew for Eastern for 32 years, would approve. Kudos!
Not applicable
I have had great experiences on Southwest also, I love when they tell funny jokes before the flight, because I have been scared to fly many times and it helps to know they are making me feel more comfortable. Keep the sense of humor going, I in fact am fly Southwest next week to Texas on Wed.
Not applicable
This is exactly why I want to be a SWA pilot.
New Arrival
I had a Customer yesterday check in for the afternoon flight to Nashville. Our small conversation led to him telling me the reason for his travel. Our Customer had flown to Houston after a 3 am phone call from the medical examiners office. His 22 year old son had been killed in a car accident and we were also carrying his son to Nashville on the early evening flight. I assured the distraught Father I would make sure the crew and agents all knew the precious value of our shipment on that fllight. One thing for sure when a Customer is getting on an airplane it is not always for fun or business. I am thankful that we now provide this service to our Customers.
Not applicable
Yay Dad! You are my hero...along with this little boy's and all the passengers. 🙂 Loved this story and I love you blogging! It will become addicting...you'll see. Love you!
Not applicable
Isn't it amazing what simple acts of kindness can do?