Harvey Brown, 76, was asked to be an honorary flight attendant on a Southwest Airlines flight.
Brown wanted to be a flight attendant when he was a teenager and was able to experience it.
He told Business Insider that he wants young people to know their dreams can come true too.
A 76-year-old retiree lived out a dream from his youth and became a viral sensation after Southwest Airlines made him an honorary flight attendant.
In June, Harvey Brown, who lives in Portland, Oregon, took a Southwest flight to Austin, Texas. Brown told Business Insider he's always been interested in what flight attendants do, and asked one of the employees on the flight about their job.
Afterward, Brown said, one of the flight attendants asked Brown if he'd like to help her serve snacks, and he was told he was an honorary flight attendant for the journey. He was given a crown made up of pretzel packets, and he made announcements and served snacks during the flight.
Southwest Airlines posted a clip of Brown on the flight on their TikTok account in July. It went viral and received 2.2 million views.
The airline invited Brown to visit its headquarters in Dallas, Texas, in October, and he experienced a flight simulator, attended safety training, and spoke to flight attendant classes, among other activities. They posted three follow-up videos from his trip, which racked up over 2 million additional views, turning Brown into a TikTok sensation.
Brown told BI that being a flight attendant was one of three careers he wanted to have when he was 16 years old, in addition to a mortician and an X-ray technician, the latter being the career he chose and worked in for 38 years. He hopes his experience can show people it's never too late to follow your dreams.
Brown didn't know much about social media before, but he says his sudden virality has been a positive experience
Brown told BI that representatives at Southwest asked him if they could post the footage of him on their flight to social media, and he agreed, although he wasn't particularly familiar with the platforms.
He said an airline employee told him the post might go viral, and he subsequently called his grandson to ask what "viral" meant.
"I thought maybe that was COVID or a virus," Brown said.
Viewers seemed to grow fond of Brown across his multiple appearances on the Southwest Airlines TikTok account, and many commenters also expressed positive sentiments towards the airline.
"PROTECT THIS MAN AT ALL COSTS. He is a ✨treasure✨," one user wrote.
"I would love to have Harvey as a flight attendant—I am not a good flier but his joy and care would make me feel like I could do it!" wrote another.
Brown told BI that the viral attention has also led to him being recognized in person as he's gone about his daily life.
"I went to my local grocery store after I got home and a lady said, 'Are you the guy on that Southwest video?'" he said.
Brown said that "a lot of times social media gets a bad rap," but the experience of going viral has helped him realize "it can be used to reach people, to touch people, in many many different ways."
Brown was blown away by the support, and hopes his story will inspire people
On his way back home from Southwest HQ, he said there was a layover in Denver, and when he boarded the flight, he was greeted by passengers shaking pom poms.
"I just cannot believe that these people did this for me. I'm a retired senior that lives in a little tiny community, and here I am doing this, who knew?" Brown said about the experience.
In a statement to BI, Ashley Bain, a public relations consultant for Southwest Airlines, said: "Harvey spreads joy wherever he goes and it was a pleasure to have him walk the red carpet with our new hires, inspire new classes of Flight Attendants and greet Passengers in the aisles on his flight home."
During the flight, Brown once again handed out snacks and was then asked to make an announcement saying that everyone on the flight was being given a free round-trip ticket to anywhere that Southwest flies in the US.
Brown told BI that he hopes young people who might have seen the videos of him experiencing life as a flight attendant will see that dreams can come true even in later years of life.
"When I was their age, I thought a man 75 years old was in a walker in a care home. But no, we're still out there," he said.
"If you have a dream, if it's in your heart, it can happen," he added.
Read the original article on Business Insider