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Airline Pilot's Speech To His Wife & Family On His Retirement Flight Leaves Passengers Teary-Eyed

Photo: motive56 | Shutterstock
airplane taking off

Flying is not everyone's favorite activity. People are stressed and in a rush and you're stuck in close quarters with strangers with no way out. It’s uncomfortable and awkward. However, passengers on one recent flight had a welcome distraction from the discomfort of flying thanks to their pilot.

An American Airlines pilot delivered an emotional speech on his retirement flight.

A pilot on an American Airlines flight to Chicago left the cockpit to speak to the passengers on his flight.

“I normally don’t stand up in front of everybody like this. I usually just … stay [in] the cockpit, and talk on the PA,” he began, before reading from a piece of paper as he gave a heartwarming speech. “If I get a little emotional, please forgive me for that,” he said, getting visibly choked up.



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What passengers didn’t know was that this was their pilot’s final flight after working for American Airlines for 32 years. To commemorate the special occasion, his family was on the plane. 

“I’d like to acknowledge a group of very important people to me that are on the plane. Most of them are in the back of the airplane, and they’re the majority of my family who have come along with me on my retirement flight,” the pilot explained. “They’re on board with me for my retirement flight after 32 years with American.”

After hearing this, the rest of the passengers broke into applause, clearly touched by what they were witnessing. 

Airline Pilot's Speech To His Wife & Family On His Retirement Flight Leaves Passengers Teary-EyedPhoto: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

Addressing his family directly, the pilot continued, “Thank you all for coming along with me tonight and celebrating this very memorable time in my life. I love all of you.”

Before signing off, he had one last message for a very special person: “For my wonderful wife, Julie, who has been at my side for the majority of my 32 years at American, she has been the solid rock and the foundation in our lives and our marriage. Her faith in the Lord, wisdom, strength and love has guided our marriage and family throughout these years. I love you and look forward to the next chapter in our lives.”

Before returning to the cockpit, the pilot hugged one of the flight attendants who appeared emotional.

The speech touched the hearts of passengers, many of whom found themselves teary-eyed. Justin Harrison, who captured the moment and shared it on TikTok, said he felt “privileged to have been there for this.”

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Even those who merely saw the pilot's moving speech on TikTok, rather than the flight itself, were affected.

“He just seems like the sweetest soul ever,” one person commented.

Another wrote, “32 years of safe landings also. God bless him and all pilots.”

“Got me crying like I know him!! Happy retirement Captain!” a third user commented.

The House of Representatives recently passed a bill that made the mandatory retirement age for pilots 67 years old, an increase from the previous 65. According to Travel + Leisure, “After retiring, many pilots pursue second careers as flight trainers or find other jobs in aviation.”

Perhaps this pilot’s time in aviation is not yet over, but his time as a commercial airline pilot is. On a day when he was undoubtedly feeling a wide range of emotions, it’s nice to know his family was there to support him.

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Mary-Faith Martinez is a writer for YourTango who covers entertainment, news and human interest topics.