The symbol of Southwest Airlines is a heart. This has been a theme of the airline’s since the beginning. They launched at Dallas Love field. Their flight attendants wore pink hot pants (designed by founding airline President Lamar Muse’s first wife). Automated ticket machines were called “Quickies.” Peanuts at Southwest were once known as ‘Love Bites.’ Their New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol remains LUV.
On Sunday, though, it took on a whole new meaning because one of their planes had to turn around because a human heart was left on board.
The plane was traveling from Seattle to Dallas. The aircraft had come in from Sacramento and was carrying a human heart meant for transport at a Seattle hospital. Only the heart was never taken off the aircraft.
So Southwest flight WN3606 from Seattle to Dallas took off. And only once they were in the air was the error discovered. They turned the plane around and headed back for Seattle because the heart has only a limited amount of time it will remain viable for transplant.
It landed back in Seattle at 5:56 p.m. local time — 5 hours and 20 minutes after the plane had taken off from Sacramento. There’s no word on whether the organ was still useful. Seattle-area hospitals deny involvement and say they generally only ship organs private.
Once they landed back in Seattle passengers, already weary from the extra flying, had to deplane because the Boeing 737 went mechanical.