When Employees at the Orlando airport heard a special traveler was coming onboard Flight #4530 to Kansas City, they vowed to make the flight memorable and extra special.
Olivia and her family at the Orlando Airport
Customer Christina Tul was patiently awaiting her flight to Kansas City at the gate when a Southwest Employee approached her and other Customers with a unique request. “She kindly asked me if I could fill out a card for a young lady who has cancer and who was flying on my flight.” The young lady, seven-year-old Olivia Hansen, was coming back home to Kansas City after a family trip to Orlando. Olivia has battled cancer since she was an infant and is terminally ill. This trip to Orlando was her last chance at traveling and creating lasting memories with her parents and sister.
Southwest Employees, including Southwest Chief Pilot Randy Turner, selected Olivia as a “special guest” and ensured Olivia and her family would have the best experience possible. From personalized chairs to handmade posters, balloons, and a red carpet, they welcomed Olivia with a Fun-LUVing Heart.
While Christina and the other Customers did not know Olivia, they became part of her adventure. “The whole experience was personalized to this little girl who no one knew personally, but we all came together and were given a chance to be part of this special occasion,” Christina said. “To see how passionate and thoughtful the whole group was, with the personal approach and effort, was very touching. I have not seen this on any other airline.” Christina felt touched by the initiative and ended up purchasing a stuffed animal for Olivia.
The little girl boarded first; a princess crown on her head, Minnie Mouse in one hand and Captain Steve Courtoy in the other, she walked the red carpet onto the plane. Once inside, Captain Courtoy announced, “We are aboard the Olivia One Flight to Kansas City today” to which the entire plane cheered.
Olivia and MCO based Captain Steve Courtoy
Southwest's Vice President of Flight Operations had a special message to the Southwest Employees who created this special event: "I wanted to give my sincerest thanks to MCO for coming together and helping to make lasting memories for a family with a young child who is terminally ill. As a cancer survivor myself, I am passionate about support, particularly when it comes to children. Thank you all for showing your true Southwest Heart."