Airlines have been cutting back on service in the face of serious financial problems, and I haven’t been shy in criticizing some of their choices. So let me give a big shout out to ExpressJet Airlines, whose employees went out of their way to do a lovely thing recently.
Back in March I got an e-mail from Sgt. Douglas Vincent, who was looking forward to his return from a posting in Kuwait. He was especially looking forward to seeing his girlfriend, Sgt. Heather Lussier, who works at the 1109th Aviation Classification and Repair Depot in Groton.
Heather was booked through Continental Airlines on a flight operated by ExpressJet to meet Doug in Louisville, and he wanted to make a big splash by proposing to her while she was in the air.
But Doug couldn’t do a lot of phoning around from Kuwait to set that up, so he asked for my help. Some very nice folks at Continental got me in touch with Kristy Nicholas, the communications director at ExpressJet, and I got her in touch with Doug via e-mail.
And so, on April 18, Heather flew from Bradley to Cleveland and then on to Louisville. On the final leg, after the pilot gave the usual weather rundown over the intercom, he finished up by reading a letter from Doug, asking Heather to marry him. The captain made sure to let everyone know that Heather was sitting in seat 19A, and the other passengers clapped and congratulated her.
Heather described all this, and sent a photo of her with Doug, in an e-mail:
"It didn’t stop there …. as we were enjoying the remainder of the flight, periodically the captain would chime in and inform us of conditions, etc., and note ‘Heather you’re almost there, have you got an answer?’
"While walking to baggage claim Doug and I heard people talking, asking ‘What did Heather say???’ The chatter among people was comical. Needless to say I said ‘Yes.’ "
ExpressJet accomplished all this despite an equipment problem that delayed the flight in Cleveland and forced an unscheduled change of planes. You have to expect those things when you fly. But an airborne marriage proposal – now that’s something special.