If there are extensive delays on one end of a trip, oftentimes it seems the other end flies by. Not in Philly. The Philadelphia Airport is not known for ease of travel. Over the last few years, several of my trips down there have resulted in cancelled flights or me camping out in the airport (or friends’ houses) for extended periods waiting for weather to clear, runways to open, or planes to become available. With a 4.5 hour delay on the front end, I was pretty much preparing for the worst on the back end.

Maybe it was the positive vibes from all the weekend law school graduation celebrating. Or maybe it was simply that this time, rather than hopping the last flight out, I booked an early flight on Memorial Day before the delays could start to set in. Whatever it was, from leaving the apartment and jumping in a Philly Car Share to arriving at the airport and getting through security, there were no delays or events. In fact, I breezed through to the gate and was left with an hour of pure ahead-of-time hang out sans delays—a first in I don’t even know how long. I was so shocked by my stress-free, no-problems-on-the-horizon waiting, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself.

So I stood at the gate, did some people watching and made calls. As our departure time approached, I was suddenly called out of my happy reverie by a vision out of the corner of my eye. With no delays and clear skies, I was already very happy with the way things were shaping up. Then things changed.

Southwest's Shamu 1

Southwest's Shamu 1

Taxing to the gate was a mammoth of black and white. I had no idea my day could get more exciting. Not only was my flight on time, my flight was to be aboard the specially painted Shamu Southwest plane (nick-named Shamu1)!

For most people, this would probably not be a notable travel moment. Who cares if your plane is painted with Shamu? Seriously, it’s just a killer whale. For me however, this was a moment I hadn’t had for probably 15-20 years. Growing up, my family always travelled Southwest around Texas. It was the way to get back and forth to visit friends and relatives in South Texas. In particular, we often flew Southwest to visit my grandparents in San Antonio (where Sea World is located). And it just so happened that they had a family membership to the park. I used to watch every plane on the runway to see if Shamu would be our plane while travelling. I thought it was the coolest thing to fly the Shamu plane to San Antonio and then actually go to the park. Because really, what’s cooler than flying in the belly of a giant killer whale when you’re eight? Not much.