A United Airlines Captain made my day earlier this week

On Thursday, I dedicated a post to reviewing my positive experience flying United Airlines post-system conversion this past Wednesday, and wanted to dedicate another post to a very appreciated gesture from the Captain on one of my flights that day.

I’m a huge fan of United’s Channel 9 air traffic control audio feed and I was disappointed on my outbound LAX-JFK flight that it wasn’t on. It was, however, available on my return and I decided to write a note of appreciation to the Captain during the flight. I used to just pop my head into the flight deck after arrival quickly thanking the Captain when Channel 9 was on, but I felt inspired to write a note this time after reading a recent post from Matthew mentioning that he does the same.

I handed it to one of the flight attendants in my cabin explaining what it was about and asked if she wouldn’t mind making sure the Captain received it. She was very enthusiastic to give it to him even mentioning that she understands just how many people enjoy listening in.

I ended up taking a nap shortly after giving it to her and woke a bit later to find the following on the armrest divider next to my seat.

a sign and a card on a carpetIt was so very nice of him to take the time to write a note back and since I’m such an aviation and airline geek, I loved getting the wings and 757 specification card. Small gestures like this make me very happy to be a loyal United flyer.


  1. I usually stick my head round the cockpit door, when I board, and ask if Channel 9 will be available. Quite often, the response is “If you would like it”, and the switch gets flipped. I’m not sure if they’ve not got to the point in pre-flight where the switch is set, or whether the captain only puts it on if requested. (About 1 in 100 I get “We’re not equipped”, so I just look at the switch and say “OK”.) One 767 captain I flew with a couple of times would send his card back to all the 1Ks with a nice thank you note on the back. He would also announce that Channel 9 was available, and that he could answer any questions that people had once we got to cruise. I sent up a note asking how far north we would be routed (ORD-LHR), and, at cruise, he made a PA announcement of “Channel Nine”. A minute or so later, he came on and not only gave the routing, and how the North Atlantic track system was operated, but also described how the 767 INS worked. A great guy!

  2. Great story Darren. I haven’t flown much mainline lately, and when I have, its been a while since I’ve had channel 9 on. I really miss it. I’ll have to give your technique a shot on upcoming flights.

  3. Way cool! I will have take a page from your book (and Matthew’s). Now maybe I can spend more time in the flight deck post flight. I found some old GTEM’s organizing BP’s today. Maybe I will copy them and use them to write notes on.

  4. I also have a story about a United Captain making my day… Actually he made the day of my 2 sons. We flew in from Fargo, ND and were waiting in ORD at concourse C for our connecting flight back home to Brussels. The boys (7 and 9 years of age) were having a blast watching those airplanes arriving at the gates. They were waving at the cockpits hoping for a pilot to respond. A United Captain of an A320 responded not only with a friendly wave and a big smile but once he got out of the plane, he gave to both boys the wings and a specification card of the A320. Their smile lasted for days !!!

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