In February, we kicked off a nationwide search for the Next Great Southwest Storyteller. Thousands entered their best travel photos using the #SouthwestStorytellers hashtag on Instagram, but only one storyteller could be crowned the grand prize winner. After careful evaluation based on not only ability to create content but also understanding love for the brand and travel, we’re thrilled to announce Alicia (@aesthetiica) as our Next Great Southwest Storyteller.
All of our finalists will be awarded prizes and are worthy of mentioning and congratulating for their creative talents and compelling stories.
Home Airport: Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
Favorite Southwest Memory: One simple incident comes to mind. I am a calm traveler and I don't fluster easily but I recently had a moment where I was late for my flight with an overweight bag. I was off to the side throwing away full-size bottles of hair products that had been gifted to me during the trip when a Southwest Agent hurried over and said, "Absolutely not. You're not throwing these away, I'll take care of you." It was funny and a relief. I don't even remember where I was going. But I remember her changing my entire mood with her cute and helpful spirit.
Number of Years Flying Southwest: 25 years. Technically, I've been flying Southwest since before I was born. My mom still gets mad at my dad for not investing in Southwest back in the day.
Bucket List Destinations: I'd cross off my bucket list items and seek out hidden gems across America, invigorating my senses along the way. I'd see a tangerine sunrise over Mt. Rainier and taste Cajun spices throughout New Orleans. I'd feel the sleepy haze of Savannah, the hot sun over Joshua Tree. I'd smell the salty air at Badwater Basin, the sweet grapes in Oregon's Willamette Valley. I'd hear powerful waves crashing down in Big Sur, all the while bringing my audience along for the ride because you don't need things to be content. You need love, beauty, nature; all things found in travel.’
Home Airport: Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
Favorite Southwest Memory: Honestly, every time we fly Southwest, I know that we're in for an amazing time. We always fly Southwest to visit families from Vegas or celebrate an important birthday or milestone. We’ve never had bad experience with Southwest and we know we can always rely on it to take us to our destination safely and hassle free. So it isn't just an airline for us. It is symbolic of some of the happiness and anticipation of the important moments in our lives and every trip is memorable because of this.
Bucket List Destination: In 2018, my wife and I made it a New Year’s resolution to go on a new adventure each month. Because of the Southwest Companion Pass earned last year, we have been able to financially make it a reality. In 2019, we have plans to fly to, or near, Death Valley, Hawaii, Glacier National Park, Big Sur, Idaho, Vermont, NYC, the PNW, and ideally an international tropical destination such as Aruba.
Favorite Southwest Memory: Thanks to Southwest, I had a wonderful experience in Cuba. Last week, I received an email from Mirtha, the woman who hosted me in Havana. I wrote about my experience in her home over a year ago & shared how it was so full of love. As a result, many of my followers booked her place. The average monthly salary in Cuba is $25, so this is HUGE! Mirtha has the ability to earn money on her own terms, connect with people from around the world, and give them a temporary place to call home in Cuba.
Home Airport: San Diego International Airport (SAN)
Bucket List Southwest Destination: When traveling I always make it a goal to see the most beautiful locations, get out of my comfort zone, meet new people, learn new ways of life, and see how different life is for people in other countries versus mine. Besides visiting other countries, it's a goal of mine to visit as many or all 50 states of the United States, so if Southwest powered my travel for the year it would help this dream become a reality.
Favorite Southwest Memory: I wouldn't be where I am today without Southwest Airlines. Literally. Two and a half years ago, I hopped on a one-way Southwest flight to Oklahoma City, a place I had never visited, with two checked bags, a carryon, and a personal item, but I wasn't worried. I knew that all of my favorite places and my support system were just a flight away. With Wanna Get Away fares and free cancelations, I'm able to always have something planned, but stay flexible if something else comes up, which is a luxury I don't have with other airlines. Yes, they could make all flights non-refundable, but they know that by earning our trust, taking care of the Customer first, and having something to continually offer, that we will keep coming back; as a new business owner, this is something I took to heart when making the decision to offer free returns. I love everything that Herb Kelleher has built and the heart behind it.
Home Airport: Nashville International Airport (BNA)
Bucket List Southwest Destination: We choose cities to fly into that can offer unique experiences around them. Phoenix is next on our agenda. Starting in Phoenix ending in Los Angeles and exploring in between. Showing my kids desert life and all the beauty that exists out there. We also have a trip planned to Vegas then up to Lake Powell this summer. A little city exploring followed by outdoors and nature experiences. Adult only is also on schedule. BNA to Caribbean is a short flight and makes long weekends totally doable.
Favorite Southwest Memory: If Southwest powered my travel for a year, I would love to visit Hawaii. From the amazing, fresh fruits to the volcanoes, beaches, and gorgeous nature to see (zip lining and hiking), it would be a once in a lifetime experience.
Favorite Southwest Memory: My first flight after my accident I was a ball of nervousness. I was nervous of what the flight would do to my arm, nervous about the 14er I was going to attempt, would I be able get my bag up top without getting laughed at or making a fool of myself? There were two guys at the back who helped me, made me hot chocolate, and high-fived me, and wished me luck as I was getting off the plane on my hike. They'll never know how much I needed them that day, or what they did for me.
Stay tuned to see where this year’s Southwest Storytellers travel by following along on social through the #SouthwestStorytellers hashtag and on the Southwest social channels.