AAI’ve written about how great American Airlines are with the military (here’s that story), but after what I witnessed on my flight yesterday they went above and beyond. I’ve been told by an American Airlines gate agent that they will upgrade uniformed soldiers if there’s space available, but there’s rarely space. That’s why premium travelers should consider giving their premium seats to a soldier. They will let uniformed soldiers board early with the elite frequent fliers, and they will buy them food in economy. That alone is pretty awesome.

But today I when I went to the gate to see if my upgrade cleared (it didn’t) I saw the captain come out and introduce himself to a passenger standing next to me at the counter. I thought he might’ve been a celebrity the way the pilot was speaking to him. After all, it was LAX and we were about to board a flight to New York (I’ve seen countless of celebs on this route).

Turns out the passenger was Andy Henning. According to this article he was one of 13 Vietnam Veteran Purple Heart recipients selected by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Kahle Fund for an all-expenses paid trip to Vietnam and he was just returning home.

I only know this because after we took off the captain got on the PA and acknowledged him which turned into a huge round of applause. Then when we landed the flight attendants requested everyone stay in their seats because some personnel were going to board the plane. I thought it was going to be paramedics or police officers like there usually is when they make that kind of announcement. But not on this occasion.

The New York gate agent got on the horn and said pretty much what the captain did when we took off. I was stuck in the window seat so I couldn’t see but I could hear everyone applaud. Then when I stepped into the gate area I was shocked to see rows of American flags (pictured above) — Talk about rock star treatment.

Andy Henning
Andy Henning

While walking through baggage claim (no, I didn’t check a bag) I wanted to thank Andy for his service but he was mobbed by family, friends and fellow servicemen, so I just snapped this photo and went on my merry way.

Anyway, I thought I should share this story since it’s not something you see every day, and members of our military, especially the Vietnam Vets, are under appreciated.

Great job, American! I hope all airlines do the same.

RELATED: Giving Your Upgrade To A Soldier

19 Comments On "How American Airlines Treats Our Military"
  1. TravelBloggerBuzz|

    Wow, very touching. Well done AA!

  2. Liliane Opsomer|

    Great story Johnny – saw it many times. I love AA

  3. Erica|

    Great story! Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Brandon Page|

    Great story Johnny! Love it! Wish we all aspired to show such love and respect to those who have made so many sacrifices along the way. And thank you Mr. Henning! Nice work AA!

  5. Visiting Wanderer|

    Great story! I wish all veterans would receive this level of respect, they deserve it.

  6. Kass|

    Thanks for sharing:)

  7. Jade|

    I wonder how many Vietnamese civilians Andy Henning slaughtered before he got that medal. Stop the hero worship, you butt-kissing fools.

    1. José K.|

      With a one-sided attitude like that, I rather suspect you would be capable of such behavior. Some of went because we were told to, and when we were there participated in things like taking first aid to peasants, community action programs and after the war tried to see what we could do to build clinics and schools. Sorry that doesn’t meet the stereotype.

    2. Sarah|

      Jade–you probably enjoy the freedoms we all do but I bet you would be a coward when it came to defending them. Don’t know your age but bet you would run to Canada! I say honor the military for all that they do for all of us.

    3. Victor McDonald|

      You, sir or madam, are a complete idiot. A soldier does what the military tells him to do. A soldier’s orders are based on action s by the President and/or Congress. For you to castigate a soldier because he (or she) did his or her duty while enjoying the freedoms that solider helped secure for you, is appalling. If you don’t like what this solider did, then why are you not living in Vietnam? And, by the way, the war in Vietnam has been OVER for some years… have you not turned on your TV since 1975?

    4. Anonymous|

      Ur a bitch

  8. louie|

    touching story. thanks for sharing!

  9. Ron Stern|

    I always try to thank veterans when I can. I did this for a couple of Vietnam vets and both of them started to tear up, one of them adding, “this is the first time anyone ever said thanks.” Well done AA.

  10. fFlick Riebe|

    It is very sad to read what JADE said ,some one sure should
    find out why and how he came up with that attitude. My son and several nephews
    served in NOM and what Jade said is unadulteratd [bull s==t]
    F lick WW2 vet

  11. Anonymous|


  12. Julia|

    Just want to send a shoutout to US Airways here, too. I was on a flight from Frankfurt to Atlanta just before Christmas a few years ago when there were horrendous snow and ice storms throughout Europe. My flight (changing in Charlotte) was delayed first by two days, then twice more by a total of about 9 hours on the day we flew out. When I boarded, I was seated next to a uniformed soldier who was on leave going home from Iraq. He was a career soldier, and had spent years in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He wasn’t eager to chat about any of it, but we talked a bit, and I learned that he was connecting in Charlotte to a little puddle-jumper to take him to his home town. Well, when we finally arrived, we were so late that the entire airport was closed – no more flights anywhere. Everyone got put up in hotels, of course… except that soldier. US Airways not only rented a car but hired a driver to drive that soldier the several hours to his final destination so that he didn’t have to waste any of the time of his Christmas leave in a hotel in Charlotte. Now that is pretty darned classy.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      BIG time! Thanks for sharing

  13. Ken|

    I used to use another airline exclusively, they were supposed to be the best flying out of SLC. I took an AA flight on one occasion because the price was so much better my work would have been upset at the cost difference. When I checked my bag, I showed my military ID. They checked my bags for free! Then when I was at the gate, they called my name. I thought I was in trouble for something. Well, they upgraded me to First Class for being in The US Army!!! On a 5 hour flight, that was a beautiful thing. I now fly American Airlines exclusively, and they have upgraded me two other times. Love it!

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