• If You Are Having Trouble Logging In with Your Old Username and Password, Please use this Forgot Your Password link to get re-established.
  • Hey! Be sure to login or register!

Separating bride and groom on honeymoon, Anchorage, Ak 1970s


Mission, TX
I guess I have played with big iron as most people do with Super Cubs and probably had just as much fun doing it at times.

At a point when I was assigned as station manager for Wien at the Prudhoe Bay Deadhorse airport, I was dating our only female 737 pilot. Needless to say, I had to introduce her to my roommate who was also my assistant manager. One thing led to another and they hooked up. Boy, how lucky I was and a big party for me after that.

Finally it came time for their marriage and I was given the honor as best man. What a mistake for them. Oh how much fun I was going to have. All plans went as scheduled and the reception was to be held at
Red Dodge's home, a friend of the bride, groom and myself, (yes, you have heard that name before, remember my story about the P-51 Pink Lady?) I did my best on my toast and everything was on schedule, so it seemed to the bride and groom.

Now comes my sneaky side guys and gals. Airline people are noted for pulling jokes.

For some 6 months I had been working on a plan on separating the bride and groom on their honeymoon out of Alaska. Because of the work I was doing, the location at Prudhoe Bay and my association to some rather high up people in other airlines, I was given many favors. Since I had worked very close with Western Airlines, a senior VP there told me I could have anything I needed from Western after I told him what I wanted to do. That included passes system wide on the spot, holding of aircraft if needed, full access to their VIP rooms, access system wide to their communications system, etc.

OK, here goes. I got our senior customer service manager and cargo manager involved but no other employees had a hint. Gee, how do you keep a secret at Prudhoe Bay. My airline management had no idea what was going on.

On one of my many trips to Maui, I stopped in at the Horizon Room (Western VIP room) in Anchorage and talked to the supervisor, a friend, and told her what I wanted to do and that I had full support from Western management. Of course she agreed after she quit laughing. She knew the groom also. Next stop was at the VIP room in Seattle and I told the supervisor there the same thing. I had known her for several years also. She was glad to help and would ask her girls to go along with it at the right time and that I should just let her know what I needed. OK, on this trip I also went to SFO on the way to HNL and told the supervisor at the VIP room there what was going on and of course she agreed. Once in HNL, I stopped by the Horizon Room and talked to the wonderful supervisor there who was a very good friend who often set up champagne parties for my VIP groups. OK, that part was done and I had the computer addresses of those I needed to talk to at the VIP rooms and ticket counters system wide on Western. When I got to the resort that I was associated with on Maui, I talked to the owners and told them what I was trying to do. They really thought it was great and if I ever got them back together, they would give the couple a free room right on the beach of the Pacific Ocean within fifty foot from the water for two weeks. Gee, it is nice to know the owners at times like this but I sure sent them a lot of business from Alaska, besides, I worked for them at no pay, only free rooms. An added comment: just before they sold the property, they gave me 3 rooms free for two weeks in February at peak time for anyone I wanted to invite down from Alaska as a thank you for the work I had done for them. Would I ever consider inviting flight attendants? Your guess. I always figured I owed the owners though. After all, who has the pleasure of playing with a 131 foot personal yacht and to party on every two weeks for a year?

OK, now we have the basics down on how this was going to work.

I had told the groom that I had arranged a free room for them on Maui for two weeks at the Maui Lu Resort and that I had arranged first class passes for them on Western Airlines and Aloha Airlines. Discount on car rental or a free staff car at the resort.
That was just to entice them to head that way. Lots of time to decide. Since they were both airline employees, the passes were legal. They had told no one where they were going on the honeymoon though.

Now the finer details and this all hinged upon them going to Maui on the honeymoon.

Since I was best man and had good contacts with Western, I suspected I would travel with them to the airport to assist in checkin and boarding. My plan was to get there fairly late and check baggage in with a certain customer service employee who had been clued in. From there, immediately to the VIP room where champagne was waiting for them. The passengers in the VIP room were always notified when it was time to board after everyone else was on board. On this trip, my friends were to be told the senior would board everyone else first since the couple would be sitting in first class.

OK, everyone else on board so time to get the newlyweds going. Just as the two were leaving the room the guy was to be called by our customer service manager with a very important call. The wife was to board anyway and wait for him. Just as soon as she got on board, the aircraft was to push back. Bye bye husband.

Plan B which is the way I wanted it to go.

If that didn't work and they boarded together (which we all thought would be the way it went down) I was to notify the senior on at the VIP room in Seattle. There, it had been set up to do about the same thing only there, they had many flights departing at the same time from the same concourse. The SFO flight was scheduled to depart at the gate next to the VIP room always because it made it much easier for VIPs to board on a so-called shuttle.

The supervisor of the VIP room was to board all other passengers while the groom was on the phone to our cargo manager about a problem. The wife was to be boarded in first class immediately and just as soon as she got on board, the door was closed and they were to push back. The senior flight attendants were to have been clued in prior to departure. The senior on the gate was to pull the flight number strip at the boarding gate and run it down to the next gate where the Denver flight was to depart from and exchange the strips. The Denver flight would have been loaded and ready to push back but Western authorized me to hold that flight until the groom boarded it thinking it was the one to SFO. What an airline, "The Only Way To Fly."

The supervisor at the VIP room was supposed to rush him to the gate keeping him occupied so he didn't notice anything wrong. As soon as he boarded, door closed and they were to push back.
OK, now I have her going to SFO and him going to Denver. Now here is where the wonderful Western Airlines gave me so very much help and access to their communications system. I had been authorized to apply for and receive any pass requests on the entire Western system for wherever I wanted to send these two to get them back together again or not. This was necessary because of posable flight delays. All local managers were given instructions to assist me in any way and to comply with my requests without question. My plan was to send a message to the wife at SFO appearing to be from the groom stating "Hijacked to Minneapolis, please join me, pass waiting at will call. Sounds good, right? OK, at Denver, much the same message to the groom only saying hijacked to Vegas, please join me, pass waiting at will call. This could have gone on forever really. Oh how much fun it was to work with an airline at the time such as Western and with a friends who worked for them. Now days something like that could never be done.

Did it work? Nooooo. Darn it. Had it worked, it would have made world wide aviation news needless to say and just think of the PR Western would have received.
The only carrier I know of that was able to separate a bride and groom was Northwest and I don't have all of that story, only part of it and it worked much the same as what I had planned.

Why didn't it work? Something I had not figured on. The bride borrowed (remember a very good pilot) as I recall, a Widgeon or possibly C-185 on floats and flew back in the bush for their honeymoon without even telling her husband first. Six months of planning with some wonderful people and she takes off in a GA aircraft. Grrrrrrr. Women in control.....
Are they still married? You guess. Now you know how lucky I felt at just being best man at the wedding.

Much later over drinks, I finally told the couple what I had planned. Once the purple color left my left eye from where the bride hit me, we all laughed about it. It would have been fun though and even they admitted that. Although I sent out many thank yous and a free pass on Wien to those involved, it was such an honor to get a note from Art Kelly, president of Western Airlines at the time, thanking me for our (Wien) association with Western. Interesting. Even he had head about what I was trying to do.
Ernie, it is the same reason I never try to have a surprise party for my wife.

She would end up somewhere else.

Great story!

steve said:
Ernie, it is the same reason I never try to have a surprise party for my wife.

She would end up somewhere else.

Great story!


Unless you have to pour the wine.