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The Day I Became a Grandma

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I am not a frequent flier on Southwest. My husband and I live north of Chicago and Southwest flies out of Midway Airport, which is located south of Chicago and much farther than O'Hare Airport. But, we will be flying Southwest from now on.

I had the most amazing experience with Southwest Airlines, and I will forever be appreciative of the incredible service they provided.

On November 28th, my husband Greg and I were driving from Chicago to Raleigh, NC. Our daughter was nine months pregnant. Her due date was two days later, but Meghan showed no signs of going into labor. So we headed down with a packed car; the bassinet I used for her as a baby, gifts, suitcases, and even our golf clubs just in case she did deliver late.  While on the road, we received a text from our son-in-law, Mike, with capital letters: 
 
WE ARE ON THE WAY TO THE HOSPITAL!  MEGHAN IS IN LABOR!
 
My husband agreed I should try to get there as soon as possible. If I could get a flight, he would continue driving by himself. I called the airlines flying out of Indianapolis, and Southwest had two flights with one available seat on each. They were also the most reasonably priced. Since we were still two hours away, I put a ticket on hold for the later 12:50 p.m. flight.

We pulled up in front of the airport at 11:45 a.m.  I jumped out of the car, kissed my husband, and ran into the airport. There were three agents at the desk with three groups in front of them: a family of five in total chaos, a woman removing articles from one suitcase into another, and a gentleman who could not find his I.D. I assumed I would never make the earlier 11:50 a.m. flight, but was still anxious about the later flight. When I finally approached the counter, I blurted out, "My name is Patti Skirving, I have been driving from Chicago, my daughter is in labor, she's seven centimeters dilated and I need to get to Raleigh!"
 
This wonderful woman looked at me and said,"I am getting you on the 11:50 flight!  I've contacted the crew, they know you are on your way, so get going and good luck!"

Not believing I would actually make the flight, I ran to security, somehow made it through without much delay, and ran to the gate. Of course it was the farthest gate, and all the way I was thinking that my husband was right, I needed to work out more! As I was approaching the gate, an Agent saw me running and yelled out, "Are you the Grandma-to-be?"  With that, she came out from behind the desk and held out the boarding pass to me. I grabbed it and ran onto the plane.

Knowing I was holding up the plane's take-off, totally amazed, and so thankful that I might just arrive in time for the birth of my granddaughter, I entered the plane shouting my apologies to everyone on board. And with that, the Flight Attendant announced, "The Grandma-to-be has arrived!"
 
The entire plane began to clap!  Needless to say, I was in tears!  Plus, somehow they had a seat in the front row waiting for me! I sat down, fastened my belt, and we took off!
 
The best was when the announcement came. "We are arriving two minutes earlier than the original arrival time," the Captain said. "A definite show of appreciation for your kindness in waiting for the Grandma-to-be. Now she will be there for the birth of her first grandchild." Again, more clapping!
 
But it gets better! I had a half-hour connection in Baltimore. When I arrived at the gate, the passengers were lining up to board the plane, according to their boarding number. My number was A16.  I was the first passenger to board following the Business Select passengers! Again, I sat in the front row of the plane. We arrived at 3:35 p.m.
 
Amazing!

Running out of the airport, I jumped into a cab, yelling, "Rex Hospital, my daughter is having a baby!" Pulling out of the airport, I received another text:
 
Grace Elizabeth has arrived, mother and baby are perfect!
 
I shouted to the driver, "I'm a Grandma!"  The driver turned around and cried, "You have brought such joy into my life." With that, the driver and I, both in tears, arrived at the hospital.  And there was my beautiful granddaughter, Grace Elizabeth, being held by my gorgeous daughter Meghan, now a mother herself.
 
Baby Gracie

November 28th was the most incredible day of my life. I don't know of another airline that would have understood the importance of the day and taken such an amazing effort in making sure I arrived as soon as possible in Raleigh. Only Southwest Airlines would have made sure I boarded that plane, sat me in the front row and provided me with a boarding pass that allowed me to board the connecting flight with ease and again, a front row seat. And only Southwest Airlines would have cared enough to make sure I arrived at that hospital room in time to witness the miracle of birth with my daughter, my son-in-law and my precious little Gracie.

I have always thought of Southwest Airlines as the fun airline to fly. But it now means so much more. It is the airline that actually cares and is willing to take the extra steps to really make a difference.

I want to thank the Agents in the Indianapolis Airport.  Unfortunately, I did not get the names of the Ticket Agent, Gate Agent, or Flight Attendant. Thank you for my wonderful early Christmas gift and thank you for the wonderful story I will be able to tell Gracie about the day of her birth.
14 Comments
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Wow! Having recently become a first-time Grandma myself, this story brought tears to my eyes. 🙂 May God bless your family with many beautiful years of loving Grace Elizabeth. P.S....I only fly Southwest because of their excellent Customer Service. Way to Go SWA!!!! ;-)
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Congratulations to you and your entire family. Welcome to the Southwest family. You've hit the nail right on the head. It's their ability to make the little things (and big things) in life matter. No other airlines treats you this way. I simply dread any flight on any other airline, and it's why they get 90% of our business travel.
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This story caught my eye, and yes I cried half way through. Happy Birthday lil miss Grace. I too share your birthday. Many Blessing and continued memories with Southwest Airlines!
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Would you believe neither of us have ever flown even though we are both in our 80's, but we have heard nothing but good from our family as they have used Southwest for years. But we think y'all went above and beyond the call of duty and we think highly of how great you made it for this new Gramma to be with her new little granddaughter and family. God bless all of you who had a part in this beautiful story. We send love and prayers to all involved.
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Thank you for your post. As a retiree it makes me very proud to hear of the wonderful things that happen at Southwest! Congratulations on your BEAUTIFUL granddaughter!
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What a wonderful story. It actually made me shed a tear. I love that Southwest gets the important things in life! Wish the family health and happiness. And Thank you Southwest for being You, this is why I fly with you every chance I get.
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I loved your story, cried most of the way through. It would be wonderful if all airlines and every person on earth would treat each other with kindness, respect and as if we were all family, which we are. Mazel Tov (Congratulations) on the birth of your beautiful granddaughter. May she have a life of love, wonder, good health and happiness. My family and grandchildren are across the country and we love to fly Southwest. Kudos to everyone at Southwest Airlines. Happy New Year.
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That is why I fly South West whenever I fly. Congrats to the family of Babby Grace. Being a grandmother the story brought tears to eyes. God Bless every one. Oh and she is a doll.
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This brought tears to my eyes also. I have been a great fan of Southwest Airlines since 2008 when we flew to Maui for my daughters wedding and ATA went bankrupt. We were stranded in the Hawaiian Islands. SWA bent over backwards to help us get home (we originally booked with SWA using ATA.) We were the only people in the wedding party and of the guests who had no problems getting home. One call to SWA got all of us home safely and in a timely manner. SWA really cares about their customers and it shows. All of my family will fly no other airline domestically.....ONLY SWA FOR US. I still thank them every time i fly for always getting me to my destination with a smile. SWA You are the greatest.
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Southwest, please put this is your monthly magazine. You are the best airlines! Congrats Grandma. She is beautiful. WAY TO GO SOUTHWEST!
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Congratulations to Patti Skirving and family. I will never fly any airline but Southwest, as long as the choice is mine. Thanks to Herb and Colleen for "Leading with Luv," and to the fantastic Southwest employees who follow in their footsteps.
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This story brought tears to my eyes as well. I'll be a first time grandma in early May, and I plan on taking the nonstop Southwest flight from Seattle to Albuquerque to be at the big event. This nonstop is just under 3 hours and is the most convenient way to get to my daughter and her husband's home in ABQ. I've flown this route several times and love it.
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What a LUV-ly story! Gracie is beautiful! So happy for your whole family- enjoy each day.
Active Member
George Peppard's character as Hannibal in "The A-Team" said it best. "I love it when a plan comes together" as it sounds like what happened here. Congratulations :-) Paul in CRP