My journey to motherhood began long ago. My husband and I have been married eight and a half years, but our adoption story started when I was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma, at the age of 22 months old. I was a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and received life-saving radiation and chemotherapy as a very small child. Thankfully, I have been cancer free for almost 30 years and have had no major complications. The amount of radiation I received as a child consequently caused my infertility.
After discussion and prayerful consideration, we strongly felt led to have a growing family through adoption. Ever since I can remember I have wanted to adopt. I can even remember being in middle school when my doctors told me I would not be able to conceive.
After months and months of waiting, we got the call. The call telling us to travel immediately to Phoenix because the expectant mother of our soon-to-be-daughter was in labor. We knew we needed to get on the next plane and didn't even hesitate on which airline to call.
We chose Southwest Airlines for their continued support and partnership with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Southwest helps countless families at St. Jude, and being a past patient there I wanted to support Southwest in return. In addition, Southwest makes it easy to book tickets and we needed flexibility with our daughter's expectant mother's due date. No other airline helps you change flights last minute like Southwest!
Our experience flying out to Arizona was exceptional—from the moment I called Customer Service and spoke with Nicole who helped get us on the last flight out to Phoenix to pre-boarding us so that we could be near the front exit and quickly go to the hospital!
The Flight Attendants even made a special announcement over the intercom as others cheered us on. Once we landed in Phoenix we were congratulated with a bottle of champagne from baggage claim. The Supervisor at baggage claim, Edith, arranged for our luggage to be delivered to the hospital. She was incredible and gave us her direct number to contact when booking our return flight to Florida. Everyone was so kind and happy for us.
We rushed to the hospital as suddenly time stood still when we saw our daughter, Evelyn, for the very first time. It was an amazing experience meeting her and nothing short of miraculous! We have enjoyed her so much and still cannot believe she is a part of our family! We have been home a couple of months and are just still dreaming and full of joy! We are forever grateful for the outpouring of love--it’s overwhelming!
We owe a huge thank you to the entire Southwest Airlines Team! Southwest made sure we had the absolute best flights both going and returning home with our daughter! You all went above and beyond the call of duty and our little family is so very thankful.
Tim and Michelle
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Southwest now serves 101 destinations in nine countries, so if you’re looking to get away, there is always somewhere to go and experiences to be had! Nobody knows a location and its Hidden Gems better than the Employees who live and work there.
Walk during the day before dancing the night away!
When the weather is nice, my fiancé and I like to go on walks in Forest Park. Located on the west side of Saint Louis, Forest Park offers many attractions, including a zoo, an art museum, and various lakes. While in the park, we often stop by the boathouse and grab a bite to eat right next to a lake, where you can rent paddle boats as well.
When the St. Louis Cardinals are playing, Ballpark Village is the place to go! You get all the excitement of being at the game without the cost. In addition, you can find good food and bars there.
When it is time to go out and dance the night away, you can’t beat Bar Napoli! This is our favorite place to go to by far. The DJs are awesome, and the atmosphere is fun and welcoming to all age groups. You can’t go wrong.
Busch Stadium, downtown St. Louis, ballpark of the Cardinals
Around the Delmar Loop
Looking for a good lunch spot? I have two words for you: Crown Candy! Known for its one-pound bacon sandwich and really thick malts, Crown Candy Kitchen is one of St. Louis’ oldest attractions and home to St. Louis’ oldest soda fountain.
After lunch, you can drive west of St. Louis to the Delmar Loop. Located on Delmar Blvd., the district is a fun place to walk around, shop, and eat. You can find everything: coffee shops, record stores, workout centers, barber shops, and restaurants. Don’t feel like walking? You can ride the new train! However you get there, make sure you stop by The Blueberry Hill Pub and Restaurant—one of the best spots in town, and where Chuck Berry and his sons once performed.
If the Delmar Loop didn’t wear you out, dancing at Boogie Nights at the Hollywood Casino and happy hour at the Sub Zero Vodka Bar are always fun!
For a more relaxing time, Shaw Park offers colorful flowers and nice walkways, and the rooftop Twilight Room will give you a great view of the city. Come prepared to have fun!
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
From Fishing to Trolley Cars
Lake of the Ozarks, located three hours away from St. Louis, is surrounded by state parks and national forests and is internationally known as a boating and fishing “Mecca.”
Trolley cars are coming back to the Loop soon. These one-car trolleys’ train tracks, replicating the early 1900s style, will run the length of the Loop into Forest Park.
For an overnight stay, try the Moonrise Hotel. The rooftop bar there has plenty of comfy seating, drinks, food, and an awesome view of downtown St. Louis. The rooms are ultra-modern and eclectic.
View of downtown St. Louis with Arch and Courthouse
The St. Louis area has endless activities and sites to see. Some attractions are even free!
The Louis Zoo is one of the BEST in the country, and it's free to enter.
Gulf Shores Restaurant and Grill is one of my favorite places to eat. It's a casual Cajun restaurant where they serve a mean shrimp and grits!
Grant's Farm, formerly owned by the Anheuser Busch Family, is home to more than 100 species of animals. Adults can also drink free beer!
Customer Service Agent
St. Louis City Garden
St. Louis Adventures
We have the World Chess Hall of Fame located in the Central West End neighborhood. It has a variety of restaurants like Scarlett’s Wine Bar, which has great pizza. St. Louis is also known for its toasted raviolis, so for some Italian, try Paul Manno’s Café, which is located in a strip-mall. It doesn't look like much, but by far has the best Italian food! And of course for the best BBQ in town, check out Pappy’s Smokehouse!
There’s also Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park near the airport, where I enjoy walking. They offer canoe, paddle board, and kayak rentals. If you feel adventurous, you can zip line at “Go Ape” in the park.
Customer Service Agent
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“I love bringing children into the cockpit. Watching their faces light up stays with me forever.”
— Diana Snow , Captain
Nearly 20 years ago, Diana Snow was drawn to Southwest Airlines because of its Fun-LUVing reputation, but it’s the world-famous Southwest Hospitality that makes this the perfect place for her. As a Captain, Diana is known for going above and beyond the call of duty for her Cohearts and Customers. When it comes to flying, Diana loves the thrill of knowing that no day is the same and that our Customers each have a different story to tell. She truly believes in taking time to care about Passengers and Employees alike. Thank you, Diana, for exemplifying the true spirit of Southwest every day. —Steph Logue, Communication and Outreach
Pride of Place “I’m proud of the People I work with. We all have a common goal of running the best airline in the world.”
Just Relax “Noise is a norm in aviation—from a jet engine to the clamor of crowds. I’ve always enjoyed the peacefulness of the outdoors—it lets me recharge.”
Home Away “This job lets us live in one place and work out of our bases—I live on the North Carolina coast; BWI is my base. It can mean a long time without our families, but it makes us appreciate what we have at home.”
Captain Diana Snow
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Tiffanie Reschke is a teacher within the Chicago Public Schools. After several trips to Africa, Tiffanie realized she wanted to become a foster mom. Along the way, at only 26 years old, Tiffanie decided to adopt Leo. Just a few days after Leo turned four, Tiffanie officially became Leo’s guardian. But it wasn’t the only surprise for them this year—on Dec. 22, 2016, KiSS-FM Radio in Chicago brought Santa to their house!
Tiffanie and Leo meeting Santa
Tiffanie wrote a letter to Fred and Angi on KISS-FM for their KISSmas Wish, explaining that Leo had never experienced Christmas before. Her wish was granted when the radio crew, dressed up as Santa and his reindeer, brought over Christmas gifts to surprise Leo.
Southwest Employee James Goodman heard Tiffanie’s story on the radio and decided he could help. Part of Tiffanie’s wish was to fly to Denver so that her newly adopted son could meet the rest of his family for the Holiday.
“I was feeling extremely emotional that day and I was determined to get them to Denver for Christmas,” James said. “So I immediately called my Coworker, Michaeline, and said, ‘We need to make this happen!’”
Tiffanie checking in at the Southwest counter
After a few calls with some of his Southwest contacts and with the help of his Coworker, Michaeline Johnson, James managed to get some tickets.
Both Michaeline and James had planned to welcome Tiffanie and Leo at the airport, but as the day came closer to the flight, James fell ill and was not able to go.“They called me from the airport to say thank you and I immediately burst into tears because I felt like we had done something for someone that meant the world to them!” James said. “It was an easy phone call for us, but it meant more to Tiffanie and her family than anything else that day.”
As Tiffanie and Leo got ready to take off on their Holiday journey, Michaeline and other Southwest Employees planned more surprises to make the experience memorable. Tiffanie and Leo received special attention during their flight, including a tour of the cockpit.
“On that day, I was happy to feel like we did something spectacular and made someone’s wish come true for Christmas!” James said. “I try to find ways to do something for others every Christmas and this was bigger than me and it felt good!”
Thank you to the Southwest Employees who made this family’s Christmas wish come true and shared some of the Christmas Spirit and LUV with our Customers.
Tiffany & Leo, Have a wonderful flight!! LUV, MDW Provisioning
Leo in the cockpit!
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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."
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Whether they experienced a special birthday onboard Southwest or were just inspired by our LUVing colors, Customers have shared their memorable Southwest birthdays with us!
Southwest Birthday Candles
I was flying back from Las Vegas to Louisville, KY with a connecting flight when the flight crew on both flights recognize me for my birthday and had the passengers sang happy birthday to me. On the second flight, we were cleared to land in Louisville, nearly 7,000 feet above the ground, when a Flight Attendant announced a special person on the airplane who was celebrating a birthday, naming my seat number. Then, he had all 151 Passengers pulled their shades down, turn off the service lights until it was dark, and click on their service lights, which was a pretty sight within itself. Those lights acted like candles. He told me to count to three, take a deep breathe, and make a wish while blowing my "candles." When I blew, all the call lights turned off as if I just had blown out candles. In addition, they presented me a bottle of Champagne. I will cherish this moment. Little acts of kindness like that is why I consider you all the best airline to fly. Thanks so much for making this a birthday I will always remember.
— Uncle-Norman, Southwest Customer
Southwest Birthday Cake
We took our son Cadel on his very first plane ride this past October for a family vacation. We live rather close to an airport, so we had previously spent many afternoons watching Southwest planes take off and land. His first plane ride, round trip, was fantastic! We thought he was going to be scared, but he loved it and he always lets people know he rode in a SWA plane when he sees one in the sky.
For his 5th birthday he asked for a plane cake that looked like the one he rode on when we took him on vacation. Thankfully, we have a family friend who is a fantastic baker and who agreed to take on the project. As you can tell she did a phenomenal job and even gave his plane a personalized tail number — C2112T: His birthday date and his initials. Everyone asked if my husband or I worked for Southwest and/or why he wanted a cake like that. We don't work for Southwest, so his experience with Southwest just left a positive print in his mind!
Thanks for making our sons first flight so memorable! He loved his flight and he loved his cake!
— JTremont, Southwest Customer
Cake Credit: www.thesweetartist.com
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Southwest Airlines is a proud supporter of Women in Aviation International-an organization “dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of women in all aviation career fields and interests.” This year at the annual Women in Aviation International Conference , Southwest was proud to present 5 female students scholarships totaling $33,500 to support their pursuit of careers in aviation. The following was written by Flight Operations scholarship winner, Mackenzie Odom.
Mackenzie Odom receiving SWA Flight Training scholarship at Women in Aviation Conference 2017
My dream is to become the first female Southwest Airlines Pilot from Happy, Texas! Two Pilots from Happy, Texas have worked for Southwest — Captain Tom “Mad Dog” Moudy, who retired in 2003, and Captain Kyle Odom, who happens to be my dad.
Southwest Employees are known for their “Servant Hearts,” and Dallas-based Check Airman Ed Devitt’s “Servant Heart” may very well be the reason I am now pursuing an aviation career.
Mackenzie Odom and her dad before his first trip as a SWA First Officer with TJ LUV stuffed airplane
While at Dallas Love Field in 2012, my dad and I decided to look around the Southwest Flight Operations Training Center. As we walked through the simulator bay, Mr. Devitt offered to run the simulator for us! Although it was a busy day in the Training Center, he made time to give me a life-changing experience and I will be forever grateful. My dad and I “flew” around Dallas in the sim and even landed a few times! I was hooked.
I immediately began researching collegiate aviation programs. A year later, I enrolled as a professional pilot major at Oklahoma State University. Since my Dad is a Southwest Airlines Employee, I have been blessed to be a part of the Southwest family all my life. However, I wanted to experience Southwest’s legendary Culture first-hand. I have spent the last two summers as an intern in Southwest’s Flight Operations—first on the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) Team and then on the Procedures Development Team. Now that I have had these experiences, I am more convinced than ever that I want to spend my career flying for this amazing Company.
Career Day in Kindergarten
I have my commercial pilot license, and I am working on my Flight Instructor’s certificate. After my graduation from Oklahoma State University (OSU) in May, I hope to work as a Flight Instructor at OSU and then fly for a regional airline. As soon as I have built enough flight time to qualify, I will apply at Southwest.
At this year’s Women in Aviation International Conference, I was grateful to be awarded a Flight Training Scholarship from Southwest Airlines! This scholarship will support me through the end of my flight training at OSU. Southwest has been so good to me. I am grateful for the tremendous support they have shown me and so many other females who pursue careers in aviation. I look forward to making many more memories with SWA’s fun-LUVing family, and, one day very soon, becoming their first female Pilot from Happy, Texas.
Preflighting with Procedures coworkers during summer internship
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Southwest now serves 101 destinations in nine countries, so if you’re looking to get away, there is always somewhere to go and experiences to be made! Nobody knows a location and its hidden gems better than the Employees who live and work there.
—Heard Museum, Desert Botanical Garden, Heritage Square, Phoenix Art Museum, South Mountain Park, North Mountain Preserve and Shaw Butte, Taliesin West, Mystery Castle, Papago Park—
Like Ol' Times
Old Town Scottsdale is a wonderful place for locals and tourists alike. There are wonderful, hard to find local restaurant gems like The House Brasserie, Cafe Monarch, and Virtu. There’s also my favorite Italian restaurant in Phoenix, Italian Grotto, which has been in Scottsdale for 30 years and is run by a bunch of guys from Bronx, New York … like me! But if you’re looking for a wonderful dessert place, head on over to Sugar Bowl. This old-style ice cream shop has been around since the 1950s and has even been featured in the cartoon strip Family Circus, as the cartoon’s creator—Bill Keane—used to bring his kids there! Old Town is a “can’t miss” for food and entertainment!
Old Town Scottsdale cowboy sign in historic shopping district Scottsdale Arizona
The Scenic Route
West Fork Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes on Earth. Not that I'm a huge hiker, it's just that this area is so scenic ... I love to share it with visitors. The West Fork Trail is in Oak Creek Canyon, near Sedona, Arizona—an easy two-hour drive north of Phoenix. The trail is an easy hike that crosses a stream at least 13 times as it winds through this wooded canyon. The canyon is surrounded by beautiful red rocks and red cliffs. The trail is dog friendly too. Our dogs absolutely love playing in the water. To quench your thirst after the hike, there are tons of outdoor breweries and wine bars a few miles down the road in Sedona.
Oak Creek Canyon along the West Fork trail, Arizona
Floating Down the River
Two places that my entire family really enjoys here in Phoenix are Lake Pleasant and the Salt River. The biggest misconception about our desert is the lack of water, but Phoenix actually has four major lakes with plenty of water sports to enjoy. Living on the north side of Phoenix, we frequent Lake Pleasant nearly every week during the summer. It has two large marinas and two restaurants where you can dock your boat. It has house boat rentals, jet skis, fishing guides, and booze cruises on a nightly basis. Lake Pleasant also has a biology and ecology center for our local elementary schools to explore.
Lake Pleasant, Arizona
Another fantastic summer tradition is floating down the Salt River on tubes. All you do is take in the sun, enjoy the cool water, and float for several hours with family and friends down the river. It’s always a great time and is very relaxing. Those are just a couple of fantastic summer gems we have here in beautiful Phoenix.
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Score! Revamped Customer pre-travel emails are here! We’ve been working hard to make enhancements to all of the emails we send leading up to your flight, and we’re now set to push them live for you and all our Customers to see.
Here’s what’s making us most excited:
Built to be mobile-friendly: Read and interact with these important pre-travel emails while you’re on the go. No more squinting and zooming in!
Optimized content: Each email will contain only the information you need to know based on how far out your trip is.
Confirmation numbers now in the subject line: You’ll be able to easily locate and group your trips in your inbox, helping you stay organized.
In the coming year we will continue to roll out even more enhancements to our pre-travel emails. We hope this latest round of updates will make your next trip with Southwest that much better!
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This month, we had the great honor of carrying an incredible man onboard our aircraft. WWII Tuskegee Airman Pilot Colonel Charles McGee, 97, flew with Southwest Airlines from Baltimore to Las Vegas before continuing on to Honolulu to speak at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor.
Col. McGee fought in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam and holds the record for the highest three-war total of fighter combat missions of any pilot in the United States Air Force history. Col. McGee began his military service as one of the Tuskegee Airmen in the 332 nd Fighter Group.
Jacqueline Johnson-Robertson, Southwest Airlines Customer Service Supervisor in Baltimore shared her experience of meeting Col. McGee:
It was a pleasure for us to assist Col. McGee. I met Col. McGee when he was dropping his bag in the baggage drop off area. He walked up to the CSAs with his bag already tagged, license out, boarding pass in hand and ready to proceed to his gate. I said, “Mr. McGee we have been waiting for you,” and he started smiling. That is when an announcement was made at the ticket counter recognizing Col. McGee for his service to our country. He was saluted by the all the Customers and Employees and received a lot of handshakes. Col. McGee was very sharp and spry, but what most stood out to me was how sweet and humble he was.
BWI Employees meet Col. McGee
The Tuskegee Airmen were pioneers who fought racial prejudices to fly and fight for their country during WWII. Col. McGee’s career in the U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force spanned 30 years and 3 wars, where he flew 409 aerial combat missions. During his military career, Col. McGee was awarded the Legion of Merit with Cluster, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star and the Air Medal (twenty-five times).
It’s no surprise that 400 guests were at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor to pay tribute to Col. McGee and all of the Tuskegee Airmen. Thank you, Col. McGee, for your heroic military service and for all you’ve done and continue to do to promote equality.
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