Lone passenger on U.S. flight gets VIP treatment: ‘Welcome aboard, Bob’April 22, 2020
“Hi Bob,” the pilot said with a wave to the jet’s sole passenger, who filmed the experience. “I’m just making a video,” Bob Pitts said. “Talking to myself. There’s nobody to talk to.”
A man on a Southwest Airlines flight from Ft. Lauderdale to St. Louis on Thursday night didn’t need a seat in first class to receive VIP treatment.
That’s because he was the only passenger on the plane.
Bob Pitts documented some of the flight in a series of videos.
“We’re going on our little flight from Ft. Lauderdale to St. Louis,” Pitts said from his aisle seat. “It’s about 8:30 and I’m the only person on the plane.”
“It’s a very, very, very unique experience,” he said.
As unique as it may have been for Pitts, airline travel has dropped so precipitously that even with reduced flights, some of those planes that remain in the air apparently have fewer passengers.
The Transportation Security Administration said this week the number of people choosing to fly has plummeted over the last few months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Airlines for America, an industry lobbying group that represents Southwest and other major carriers, said passenger volume is down 97 percent to a level not seen since 1954.
“Before this global emergency, U.S. airlines were transporting a record 2.5 million passengers and 58,000 tons of cargo each day,” Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio said in a statement Tuesday.
Pitts, who wore a gray bandanna as a face covering on his flight, was traveling to St. Louis for his mother’s wake. Her death was unrelated to the coronavirus.
In another of his videos provided to NBC News and recorded during the pre-departure announcement, Pitts is personally greeted by a flight attendant and the pilot.