A video clip of a retiring American Airlines pilot who delivered an emotional speech just before his final flight last year has been making the rounds online after it was posted on TikTok last month.
The video, which has since gone viral after garnering over three million views on the app, features Captain Jeff Fell using the cabin public address to welcome passengers aboard the flight to Chicago from Fort Myers, Florida.
“I normally don't stand up in front of everybody like this,” Fell says in the clip. “I usually just stay in the cockpit and talk on the PA. If I get a little emotional, please forgive me.”
“First of all, I’d like to take just a few moments of your time before we take off to Chicago tonight and I'd like to acknowledge a group of very important people to me that are on board the flight,” he continues, then notes that “the majority of my family” is sitting in the rear of the plane.
“They’re on board with me for my retirement flight after 32 years with American [Airlines],” he explained. As the passengers applaud, Fell expresses his gratitude, saying, “Thank you all for coming along with me tonight and celebrating this very memorable time of my life. I love all of you.”
Fell concludes his speech by honoring his wife, Julie, whom he said, “has been on my side for the majority of my 32 years at American.”
“She has been the solid rock in our foundation of our lives and our marriage,” Fell said. “Her faith in the Lord, wisdom, strength and love has guided our marriage and family throughout these years. I love you and I look forward to the next chapter in our lives. And welcome aboard, everybody.”
The heartfelt moment was captured by flight attendant Justin Harrison, who posted it on his TikTok account on Nov. 10. Another clip from Harrison showed a water cannon salute Fell received, a tradition to mark the retirement of senior pilots, as the aircraft taxied to the runway.