WARNING: THIS STORY ISN’T ABOUT BOOZE; IT’S ABOUT MY FAMILY AND HOW AWESOME SOUTHWEST AIRLINES IS. If you aren’t interested … scroll along. 😉
Being an aunt to two beautiful children is the most fulfilling thing in my world. Yes, sharing my adventures and drinking experiences with y’all is really fun, but knowing that I can help shape my niece’s and nephew’s lives brightens mine every day.
When my sister learned of her first child, Ten’s, severe peanut allergy, we were all greatly concerned and hoped we could find a way to help him live a normal life—because I don’t care what anyone says, a severe allergy to something common like peanuts can make a child’s life difficult. Thanks to a ton of research, my sister found a doctor in Dallas who offers exposure therapy for children. (This is a proven and safe treatment … if you have any questions, just ask!)
The idea was simple—every week for 18 weeks, Ten gets dosed up and monitored—but the execution was less than simple. Her beautiful family lives in Albuquerque, a full 650 miles from said doctor. My parents and I live in Dallas, so she made the choice to make the trip from Albuquerque to Dallas every.damn.week. With flight costs being what they are and most airlines’ cancelation policies and change fees being strict and expensive, it was a daunting idea. (Especially because, if there was any change in Ten’s heath 24 hour prior to the appointment, that week’s appointment had to be postponed.)
And then Southwest Airlines swooped in to save the day. Alice starting squirreling away miles, watching for fare sales, and setting up her weekly flights to make it happen. And, since Ten wasn’t yet two years old, he flew free. (Huge win.) Even more incredible, if Southwest is alerted that there’s someone onboard with a peanut allergy, they don’t serve peanuts that flight* and families are allowed to board early to get the wee ones settled.
My amazing sister made it happen. She schlepped her pregnant, nauseous self and her adorable, allergic boy on a weekly flight to Dallas to make his appointments where he progressed beautifully, winning over every nurse in the office as he went. And, just before his second birthday, he went to his last appointment. Ten could now eat peanuts, giving him the chance to enjoy what is now his favorite food (peanut butter, or “baya”) and his family the peace of mind that a rogue peanut butter and jelly sandwich wouldn’t take him down.
Over the course of what ended up being 22 weeks of appointments, he grew to love airplanes and, of course, Southwest. When he saw a heart, he’d point and say in a proud tenor, “Southwes!” (He had trouble with the second t for a while.) He loves watching airplanes and will tell you that the planes are going to “Dayas” or “Querque”. (He was also well-versed with the safety cards.)
To mark the end of his treatments and his second birthday, my family figured that the best way to celebrate the extraordinary process he went through was with a Southwest Airlines-themed party. The company being what it is, we made some calls and told our story to any employee that would listen—which was pretty much every one we spoke to—and were given little children’s games, pretzels, gifts, and such here and there.
Then, we started amassing extra napkins from flights along with pretzels and cups … and things like custom Southwest teddy bears and paper airplanes started to show up in the mail. A friend even sent him a branded t-shirt (that is now his favorite clothing item) and some other little gifts from their employee store! Apparently we’d struck a cord …
Living in Dallas, our family knows an employee or two, so we called in some favors. None were too busy to at least try to help. We were blown away by everyone’s kindness and generosity. In the end, we pulled together a pretty festive party for the little man.
We are all so appreciative of Southwest on so many levels—for being the airline they are so that my nephew could make his weekly appointments and for being so generous to help him celebrate two huge milestones. Thanks to EVERYONE who helped make it happen.
There’s no question it’s called the love airline.
*This was before August 2018 when Southwest stopped serving peanuts.