On a recent late night flight from Baltimore to Portland, Maine, 142 Customers experienced some Southwest Hospitality delivered in an unusual fashion. The flight was already late leaving BWI due to a weather-related delay on the aircraft’s previous segment, and then, just before pushing from the gate, a minor maintenance issue cropped up, lengthening the delay even further and increasing the frustration level onboard.
During the boarding process, our Flight Attendant Kelli Bartlett, engaged in some light-hearted banter with a Customer. As they commiserated with each other over the evening’s delay, the gentleman produced a deck of playing cards, and explained to Kelli that it is a “voice-activated” deck of cards. He told her to say the name of a card of her choosing and something special would appear on the back of only that card. Our skeptical Flight Attendant examined the deck.
Kelli said the face side of the cards looked normal, although the back of each card was blank. Thinking of our new livery and symbol, Kelli said “the five of hearts” out loud. She and the gentleman fanned through the deck, searching for Kelli’s named card, and when they spotted the five of hearts, with a flourish, he flipped the card over to show that it now said “I love Southwest Airlines” on the back!
It turned out that Mr. Alan Drew was a professional magician, and is a member of the prestigious 113-year-old Society of American Magicians, which was founded in 1902 by Harry Houdini.
He told Kelli that he truly LUVs Southwest and finds ways to incorporate references to our Company into his magic shows. After boarding was complete, and when that second delay happened, Kelli tried to cheer up the frustrated Customers, but says her jokes just weren’t connecting with the planeload of people anxious to be on their way. It was then that she had an idea of a great way to keep the tired Customers entertained while they waited for our Maintenance person to fix the issue.
A sketch of Mr. Drew the magician
After a quick discussion at his seat, Kelli invited Mr. Drew to the front galley area, handed him the PA microphone, and announced to our Customers she had arranged to have a professional magician help them pass the time during the delay.
Drawing on his years spent onstage, Mr. Drew was a natural in front of a crowd with a microphone, and Kelli reports that he had everyone laughing with his jokes and magic tricks.
He took our Southwest cocktail napkins and fashioned roses for many of the ladies on board, and performed his “I love Southwest Airlines” card trick for many of the Customers right at their seats. All of our Customers, plus three of our Flight Attendants, had a very memorable flight that evening!