An emotional retirement speech from an American Airlines pilot to passengers and crew after 32 years of flying has gone viral.
In the tearjerking video posted to TikTok by @realjharrison with the caption “privileged to have been there for this”, pilot Jeff Fell announced to the cabin that flight 2561 from Charlotte, North Carolina to Chicago would be his last, after three decades in the sky.
The in-flight message sees Captain Fell, in uniform at the front of the plane, tearfully saying “If I get a little emotional, please forgive me for that.”
Fell extended thanks to his “very important” family, who were on board for his retirement flight, for “coming along with me tonight and celebrating this very memorable time in my life.”
To his wife Julie, the pilot added: “She has been the solid rock in our foundation in our lives and our marriage. Her faith in the Lord, wisdom, strength, and love has guided our marriage and family throughout these years.
“I love you and look forward to the next chapter in our lives.”
“Welcome aboard everybody,” he added, while holding back tears.
Captain Fell’s speech was met with cheers and applause from passengers and cabin crew.
The video has been viewed 3.3 million times since being uploaded on 10 November and TikTok users were quick to share their admiration for the retired pilot in the comments.
“To think of the amount of families, people, and cultures he has single handedly connected throughout the world. Thank you!” one user replied.
Another commented: “Thirty-two years of safe landings also. God bless him and all pilots.”
Others echoed that the video had “brought [them] to tears” and “made [them] cry” while watching.
In a follow-up video, @realjharrison confirmed the long-serving captain received an honorable water canon salute – a mark of respect in aviation for senior pilots when a plane travels under plumes of water from fire fighting vehicles – as the aircraft taxied to the runway.
The Independent has contacted American Airlines for comment.