Southwest Is Celebrating An Unmanned Flight — But It's Not What You Think

Photo: Courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

Southwest Airlines took some time out from slashing prices and introducing new routes by celebrating a major accomplishment.

Condé Nast Traveler reports that on Wednesday, the airline had the first unmanned flight on its new fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes — but there was no artificial intelligence involved. Instead, the budget carrier was calling out a special all-female flight crew that flew from St. Louis to San Francisco.

The airline tweeted three photos from the flight, which showcased the all-female team in the plane's cockpit and cabin.

"The first 'unmanned' Southwest flight on a @BoeingAirplanes 737 MAX 8!" the tweet reads. "All-female Crew pic taken before flying STL - SFO."

It's not a first for the company, however. In the past, all-female crews have flown other flights, but this particular journey was the first for the new planes. CNT also notes that Southwest Airlines was the first major carrier to have a female president, Colleen C. Barrett.

The Huffington Post reports that less than 7% of airline pilots are female, so while all-female crews shouldn't be such a rare occurrence, the relative rarity makes each one something to celebrate. Earlier this year, Air India commemorated International Women's Day by logging the longest flight ever staffed by women. Everyone, from the air traffic controllers to the pilots and crew, was female on a record-breaking round-trip flight from Delhi to San Francisco.

Southwest's tweet met with a mostly positive reception, but one troll did point out that the airline wouldn't celebrate an all-male crew. In a now-removed tweet, user @erikroman15 wrote, "If this was an all male crew I don't think y'all would be celebrating this event." The airline responded with a sassy note acknowledging the fact that an all-male crew isn't what anyone would consider uncommon.

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