Maine airline pilot surprises his 1 millionth passenger

NOW: Pilot rewards millionth passenger

SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Finally, a positive airline story.

21 years ago, Captain J.C. Ritchie of Southwest Airlines (and from Scarborough!) had a simple idea that required a lot of math.

For two decades, he's relied on his log sheets and headcounts before the start of each flight with one goal in mind.

"I was like, if I'm going to be carrying passengers, I wonder if I could make it to a million people," he said. "It's kind of fun, especially when you start getting closer, it's like, 'Wow, there's a hundred thousand people.'"

That day finally came last week on a flight out of Denver to Pittsburgh, a day he had been planning for a long time.

He surprised passenger 1,000,000 with a bottle of champagne and refunded her ticket in cash, out of his own pocket.

"I was so happy, one for her and one to be reaching a goal," Captain Ritchie said. "I was almost concerned that she was going to pass out because it didn't look like she was breathing, it was that shock and awe and I'm going like, 'breathe, please breathe.'"

His flight attendant posted the video to the Southwest Facebook page. Since then, it's been shared more 13,000 times.

Some good PR for an industry that's been battered with negative headlines in recent weeks...

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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