This year was my fourth year in attending the Chicago Seminars an event that brings out almost 600 frequent flyer enthusiasts for a week-end of seminars, networking, and socializing. The event includes informative sessions for both beginner and advanced mileage junkies. Although I love the sessions which give tips and tricks for maximizing travel experiences there is one presentation that I absolutely look forward to each year. That session is presented by Captain Denny Flanagan, a well-known pilot with United Airlines. His message never gets old ….
Captain Denny, as he is fondly called, is without a doubt one of the most genuine, giving, and caring individuals that I have had the pleasure of meeting. He goes above and beyond in helping to make the flying experience a stellar one for his passengers. To quote him “Every day I work from my heart and choose my attitude.”
His flight day begins with a crew brief which he believes is a great opportunity to connect with the crew. He puts his hand to his heart and thanks them for the great job they do taking care of the customers. He reminds them that they spend more time with our customers than any other airline employee group. He believes that flight attendants are rarely thanked enough for the great job that they do, and feels it is a small, but important thing, to be reminded by the Captain how much he appreciates what they do.
If there are pets traveling in the cargo hold, Captain Denny will personally visit the hold to check on the pets, snapping a picture which he then shares with the pet’s owner. He has been known to actually take pets out of their carriers for a little stroll around the tires of the jet in order to have a potty break if there is a flight delay. His take on this is “I hope the mechanics know what kind of leak that is.”
He also makes it a point to call the parents of unaccompanied minors on a flight simply to let the parents know that the child is onboard safely. In the event of a weather delay, he will also call to let them know the flight will be delayed. According to Captain Denny, “ It really is the little thing that means so much.”
He has spent his career in doing for others. During long mechanical or weather delays, he has been known to buy hamburgers or pizza for all of the passengers as they wait for the issues to be resolved. Whenever he can, he will enlist the most disgruntled passengers to help thereby helping to improve their mood as well. In Florida, it was oranges, enlisting the help of the youngsters on board to help pass them out.
Captain Denny believes in showing by example. Oftentimes, when people fly using their own wheelchairs, and there is no one at arrival to help the individual up the jet way in the wheelchair, he takes it upon himself to lend a hand.
So whether it is catching him giving one of his motivational speeches at the Chicago Seminars, being lucky enough to be on one of his flights, or catching him in San Francisco for any of the Captain Denny Do’s, I hope that one day you, too, will have the experience of meeting this remarkable man.
Captain Denny serves on the Board of Directors for the Jason Dahl Scholarship Fund. He is also a supporter of Airline Ambassadors. When not flying, he spends his time on his small farm working with rescue animals. His flight schedule can be found on FlyerTalk and a link to a CBS Early Show piece on him can be found here.