Occasionally, it is necessary for Flight Crews to "deadhead" between Southwest cities. We fly the aircraft into one location and then move to the back of the plane to ride as a passenger to another city where we once again fly the airplane. These deadheads are done for a variety of reasons including the need to reposition a Crew Member for a flight sequence or because we are about to exceed a flight time limitation that is set by the Federal Aviation Administration.
It is not uncommon for a Southwest Employee riding as a passenger to offer to pass out peanuts or snacks (especially on short flights) to help the Flight Attendants complete their cabin service. One day, I was deadheading in my uniform between Dallas and San Antonio to continue my flight sequence when I had the opportunity to "do the peanuts." When I pass out snacks, I like to walk backward, starting at the rear of the aircraft and move forward toward the front of the plane. By walking backward, I am able to face the Customers and thank them individually for choosing to fly SWA as I offer them a snack. On this flight, I had moved just a few rows into my service when I heard a male voice behind me telling me to step aside and let a pro show me how to serve peanuts. Well, the voice belonged to none other than the world's greatest airline Board Chairman, our very own Herb Kelleher!!! So now, I am going to be proceeding up the aisle, providing much needed nourishment to our Customers with Herb! When one serves peanuts with Herb, it is a much slower process than when you do it alone as Herb gets to shake hands with the male Customers and hug and kiss most of the females. (Herb is a lucky guy.)
As Herb and I got to about mid-cabin, a lady looked at me and asked if I shouldn't be in the cockpit. Trying to show my quick wit to the Head Guy at SWA, I told the lady that this was a new cost saving measure Herb was testing where I did the takeoff and landing and let the autopilot fly while I served peanuts. The lady contemplated this for a moment as about a dozen Passengers surrounding us listened to our conversation. The lady suggested that I hurry along then as she didn't want me to be late for the landing. I then noticed Herb leaning toward the Customer and saw that he was about to speak. Sensing that surely Herb was going to utter a compliment or wise word about one of his dedicated and most admiring Pilots, I listened intently. In a voice loud enough so that everyone around could hear, Herb said "Honey, I've seen David's landings and the plane might just do a better job!!" A huge burst of laughter ensued...Score one for Herb!!