First of all, I would like to thank our friends at Southwest Airlines for making this whole trip possible. Had they not offered to fly Frye and our animal transport team to Georgia and back, SEA LIFE Arizona might not have had the opportunity to rescue Frye.
Frye is an endangered green sea turtle that sustained injuries early in life from a boat strike. The injuries left Frye with some visual impairment, so he is not able to be released into the wild. Frye has been a long-term resident of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and was in desperate need of a long-term home. We at SEA LIFE are happy to oblige and provide one!
I’ve done a lot of flying in my life, but I’ve never had the treatment that we had while bringing Frye to Arizona. We left the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island at 4:30 in the morning in order to make our 7:00 a.m. flight. Once at Jacksonville Airport, Desiree (a Southwest Customer Service Agent) met us curbside, helped with our boarding documents, escorted our team through security, and even took us all the way to the gate.
Frye was transported in a basic pet carrier, but due to the special attention we were getting, everyone in the airport was curious as to what was inside! They figured it was more than an average pet. The SEA LIFE team and I, along with the Southwest Multimedia Manager Rich Matthews, were happy to share Frye’s tale and let the other passengers know about our special passenger.
We got to board first on both legs of our journey, and both of our flight crews in Jacksonville and Houston were fantastic! They helped us get settled in and were all just as concerned about Frye as they were any other passenger. One of the highlights of the trip was getting on the intercom to tell everyone on the plane who we were and what we were doing with Frye. When we landed in Phoenix, the Ops Agent at our gate had even made Frye a welcome home sign!
It was a great day with a lot of great people who you can tell love to help. I’ve always enjoyed flying with Southwest because their people really care about what they do. It’s also great that the company supports and cares about wildlife and our environment. Thank you, Southwest!