United Pilot Noticed for Niceness

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While many general aviation pilots revel in avoiding the miseries of airline flight, most find themselves occasionally forced to join the milling crowds in the main terminals. But if they are lucky, they may find themselves aboard a United Air Lines flight captained by Denny Flanagan. Flanagan won his 15 minutes of fame this week when Wall Street Journal travel columnist Scott McCartney singled him out as an island of niceness amid a sea of mere bland competence. While other pilots may get you to your destination in one piece, Flanagan does that plus checks on your pets and your luggage, calls the parents of children flying alone to reassure them, invites families into the cockpit, makes jokes, raffles off free bottles of wine, and orders hamburgers for passengers during delays.

"I just treat everyone like it's the first flight they've ever flown," Flanagan told McCartney. "The customer deserves a good travel experience."