“You can do hard things. You can do fun things. No age can keep you from going out and enjoying your life.” —Bruce McEwen, National Sales Manager, Clabber Girl Corporation
Photo by Chad Kirkland
Whether he’s driving from Louisiana to Florida to catch a snowstorm, or going skiing with Robert Redford, Bruce McEwen doesn’t shy away from adventure. As a national sales manager for Clabber Girl Corporation (yes, the baking powder company), Bruce flies out of Salt Lake City every week to meet his clients face-to-face. But a busy work schedule doesn’t keep him from preparing to break a Guinness World Record. Once he makes his way to Hawaii, Bruce will be the first person to ski natural snow in all 50 states—with nearly all of his flights on Southwest. Thanks for your loyalty and passion, Bruce. Your spirit of adventure and love for our Company inspires us all!
—Eunbee Kim, Communications & Outreach
Blazing Trails “There’s something to be said for doing one of the very few things no one else has done before.”
For the Record “My skiing adventure started almost 30 years ago when I realized I already had about 20 states under my belt. From there, I figured I might as well try to reach all 50.”
Flight Connections “I met a guy on one flight who turned out to be a ski patroller in New Hampshire. He asked when I planned to head that way, and I told him my plans—I arrived to a welcome banner and complimentary lift ticket!”
Bruce was also one of the first to ski in the Swiss Alps this season, hitting the slopes with his son on opening day. While he doesn’t plan on tackling any additional World Records, he does love exploring all the different slopes the world still has to offer. Even more, he loves meeting fellow Southwest Customers and hearing all of their crazy and wonderful stories along the way. Make sure to keep an eye out for Bruce, as you never know when you’ll be inspired by his fun-loving outlook on life.
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Whether it’s spontaneously adopting a new pet while away from home or fulfilling a loved one’s final wish to care for their pooch, Southwest has got you covered. Read more to hear from Customers who’ve taken to the skies with their pets, and learn what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to bringing your favorite furry friends onboard.
Flying with Bailey
Submitted by kcastilow
I was devastated when I received the news that my great aunt was terminally ill and was not expected to see the weekend. My parents were with her in Arizona, and my mother called to tell me my great aunt had asked to see me before she passed.
Because I live in Houston, I had originally purchased a Southwest ticket to see her the next week. However, our family was informed by the hospice nurse that my aunt's health was rapidly deteriorating, so I quickly called Southwest’s Customer Service to try and change my ticket. I informed the Representative that I was willing to pay whatever I needed to get to Phoenix as quickly as possible.
He immediately began searching for flights out the very next morning. He asked why I needed to leave so urgently, and I explained that my aunt was very ill and not expected to live much longer, and that she had specifically asked for me to come see her.
This trip was not only important for me to spend a few precious moments with my aunt, but also because she had asked me years ago to care for her dog Bailey in the event of her passing. She had visited me in Houston and known I would care for Bailey the same way as my own pup Bella; I immediately agreed to her request.
When I finally arrived to my aunt’s bedside, she was so happy to see me. That night, she went to sleep and passed away peacefully. I know in my heart she went to rest knowing her beloved Bailey would be properly cared for.
I am so thankful to Southwest for helping me get to Phoenix without any added financial burdens. Additionally, I’m grateful for the kind Phoenix Customer Service Agents who helped me get Bailey to his new home in Houston. They were compassionate when I explained he was flying for the first time and it was my first time flying with a pet. While Bailey wouldn’t need his own boarding pass, they explained that I would need to call and make a separate reservation for him. From there, all I had to do was keep Bailey in a pet carrier and pay the $95 fee to get him onboard! All of my questions were answered with a smile and Bailey was treated with care and lots of head rubs.
It’s a tough world out there, but knowing I can rely on the kindness of People at Southwest makes my travel experience that much smoother every time I fly. Thank you all!
Note: Pet reservations must be made in advance by calling 1-800-I-CALL-SWA (1-800-435-9792). On the day of travel, Customers will need to go to the ticket counter to pay the $95 Pet Fare (credit cards and cash accepted) prior to proceeding through security.
The “Tail” of Three Cities
Submitted by mmwhite1
My journey with Southwest began with a 5 a.m. flight from St. Louis to Chicago that, unbeknownst to me at the time, would be to say goodbye to my mother. Just as I was getting settled on the plane, the Pilot announced the weather in Chicago was looking treacherous, and we would be grounded until further notice. Minutes later, my brother sent a text that Mom had taken a turn for the worse and was being sent to Cardiac Intensive Care.
After speaking with Flight Attendants onboard, I ultimately decided driving to Chicago would be the best option. If fate could have it, we hadn’t pulled away from the gate, and the door was still open—which meant I could make a break for it! I quickly grabbed my suitcase and raced out of the plane.
Fast forward one month, and I was spending time with my sister’s family on the Jersey Shore, where we purchased a new Labradoodle puppy! Knowing the two of us would soon be flying home together to St. Louis, I set about reading Southwest’s pet travel policy. Without delay, we purchased a pet carrier and reserved a spot on our flight back to complete our journey home—it truly was a “tail” of three cities!
Note: Customers are permitted to travel with no more than one (1) pet carrier per person. Each pet carrier can have no more than two (2) of the same species of small cats or dogs per pet carrier.
For additional specifications, please see the full Southwest pet policy found here. Your pet can travel in style with the official Southwest pet carrier available for purchase here.
A Coffee, a Churro, and the Two Puppies Out Front
Submitted by dF_StLouis
I was set to go on my second mission trip in two months, and we would be spending the week assisting families in need in a variety of ways. Once we arrived, a unanimous vote was taken to grab a breakfast of delicious pastries, warm breads, and fresh-squeezed juice at the local bakery. That’s when everything began to change.
My eyes quickly caught onto two puppies sitting outside the bakery, greeting every customer as they walked in. Their tails wagged so fast they were nothing more than a blur as they danced at every pat on the head and tiny treat they were given. The pastries and assortment of breads could wait—I had puppies to play with! The longer I played with them, the more I realized there was something special about them both. Of course, I began to wonder: should I take them home?
Our group continued on to begin the work we had come to do, meeting so many wonderful people along the way. But the faces of those two tiny puppies had already ingrained themselves into my brain and my heart.
As I walked towards the front door where the puppies had been only days earlier, I was filled with anticipation and excitement for what was to come. But those few moments of joy and happiness vanished the moment I realized they in fact were not sitting by the door. They were gone.
Frantically, I searched the area, running from here to there but ultimately getting nowhere. Adding salt to the wound, the entire area was being hit by a torrential rainstorm. Soaked and dejected, I drove back to the bakery. To my surprise and delight, they had returned to their spot by the front door!
After working all the details out of how I would “officially” adopt them, it was finally time to bring them home. Many thanks go to our missions group and the entire Southwest Team for banding together and making this dream a reality—Southwest stands apart from everyone else as they treat all their Customers like dear friends. And when you’re among friends, everything is better.
No need to fret when it comes to your pet! We’ve got you covered with a checklist to ensure you’re able to get where you need to be without any hiccups.
Have questions about bringing your furry friend with you onboard? Southwest's full pet policy (not including emotional support animals) can be found here.
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“I instantly fell in love with airplanes, flying, and Southwest.”— Darin Sanders, Manager, Inflight Training
Photo by Justin Clemons
It was love at first flight for Darin Sanders, who, at 10 years old, flew Southwest to visit his relatives. He was captivated by the plane and knew he wanted to work for the Company someday—and the rest is history. He started as an Intern in 1995 before working as a Flight Attendant and on the ground at our Dallas Headquarters. These days, Darin is a Manager at Southwest University, where he helps oversee the training program for Flight Attendants and works hard to ensure they graduate as Hospitality experts. Like many of his fellow Employees, Darin is a travel and aviation enthusiast, and one of his favorite memories is when he was selected as part of the Crew that delivered a new Boeing aircraft from Seattle to Dallas. We’re lucky to have you, Darin, and we’re so glad you took that first flight!
—Sarah Mattina, Communications & Outreach
Speak Up “I’ve always had opinions, but when I was younger, I struggled to have a voice. Leaders here have helped me recognize my value in sharing my opinion and being direct.”
Job Perks “We get to see People start without knowing anything about airlines or airplanes, and in four weeks, they’ve graduated and are competent, confident Flight Attendants.”
California’s Calling “Once a year, I take what I call a ‘plane spotting’ trip to LAX. I’ll rent a car, drive around the airport, and go to the beach where the planes take off overhead.”
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In April 2016, Tim Thompson and Ashley Leecy were thrilled to add Tristan to their family of three. Tristan made the perfect complement to older brother Trevor, and while he was fragile and prone to illness as a newborn, all seemed normal until he was six months old. Unbeknownst to them, Tristan and his family were about to embark on a journey they never could have imagined.
After multiple hospital visits and mounting frustrations as they worked to find out what was plaguing him, Tristan was finally diagnosed with Bridges-Good Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder also referred to as Chronic Granulomatous Disease (CGD). CGD is a genetically inherited disease that comprises about 20 new diagnoses each year in the United States. The disease makes a critical part of one’s immune system nonfunctioning, and most patients do not live past the age of 25.
Tim and Ashley clearly remember the despair that came over them when faced with the truth that Tristan’s life had taken a drastic turn. After consulting with their local hospital and conducting research of their own, Tim and Ashley learned about the advanced stem cell and bone marrow transplants run by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Despite the 300+ miles separating CHOP from the family’s home in Rochester, New York, they knew this could be Tristan’s only chance at a normal life.
The Thompson family made the decision to undergo a bone marrow transplant just six months after Tristan’s diagnosis, knowing full well that he would need 10 days of rigorous chemotherapy just to give his new immune system its best chance at thriving. Within two days, a perfect 10/10 match was found in Bob Byers, a high school football coach living over 500 miles away in Niles, a small town in Michigan just north of South Bend.
Bob joined the Be the Match Registry after his wife Becki had been diagnosed with and beaten cancer on two occasions, and his donation to Tristan marks his second since that fateful registration. Bob recalls landing at Midway Airport in Chicago to a barrage of missed calls from Be the Match, who notified him that he was the only match in the entire country for a little one-and-a-half year old boy. He remembers it as a moment of sheer terror shared by him and Becki, as parents themselves, on behalf of this family.
The Thompson family was hit with yet another surprise when Bob’s identity was finally revealed one year after the transplant. Despite not knowing who the recipient of Bob’s stem cells was, Tristan had been honored as the honorary captain before every home football game at John Adams High School all the way in South Bend, Indiana.
Bob’s players even voiced their support for Tristan in the time leading up to the meeting, with key offensive members Ira Armstead and Jackson Joyce telling media that “[Tristan’s] one of us. He’s a part of the team”. Beyond naming Tristan an honorary captain, the team even sent a signed jersey with a video of them cheering Tristan on, while Bob sent his “little brother” a stuffed penguin with a get well note.
Bob easily refers to Tristan as his little brother now that they share the same blood type, and even all of Bob’s allergies. Bob says the meeting was like a dream, as he could have never imagined meeting this new brother in real life.
Tristan’s mom, Ashley, looks back at the entire experience as one that’s served to reset everyone to the key values of life. “There’s just so much perspective with this in our lives. The rest is just noise. I mean, this is real, this is important, and this is what it’s about.”
In the months leading up to this meeting, Ashley remembers anticipating much ugly crying on her end. After waiting a year and a half to meet the man that saved her son’s life, she wanted to show her thanks and give Bob a bone-crushing hug. Southwest was glad to catch a glimpse of this emotional encounter.
To learn more: visit join.bethematch.org/TristanAndBob
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“Don’t be afraid. If the opportunity is right there but doesn’t work out, another door is going to be open.” — Ann Korando, President and CEO, BBF&K Consulting
Photo by Cade Martin
As the CEO and president of BBF&K Consulting, a firm that provides guidance to organizations on fundraising strategies, outreach, and program development, Ann Korando regularly takes to the skies to meet with clients. She chooses Southwest because she can easily accommodate her changing schedule by modifying her flights without penalties. Ann’s favorite part about being a Southwest Customer is redeeming her Rapid Rewards points—she’s one of 11 kids, so she often uses points to buy tickets for family members so they can visit. Thanks for your loyalty, Ann. We’re proud to connect you to what’s important in your life!
—Alyssa Comins, Communications & Outreach
Run On “I’ve been running with one of my girlfriends for 20-plus years. We run the National Mall at 6 a.m.—I like to say we solve our own problems and the world’s.”
Career Credo “My tagline is ‘connecting people, ideas, and fun.’ I typically raise money for the STEM fields for kids K–12.”
Friendly Flight “I haven’t met a wall that I didn’t like to talk to. I actually earned a new client by chatting with the person next to me onboard.”
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