A first of its kind for the industry, the APEX Heart Awards shine a light on the industry’s unsung heroes – the individuals or airline team members who go above and beyond to elevate the air passenger experience. From the ground up, the people behind the airlines work tirelessly to deliver comfort, peace of mind and a memorable passenger experience and this award is for them!

Criteria for Silver and Gold APEX Heart Awards:

  • Silver Heart Awards: Exemplary everyday actions, above-and-beyond courtesies and outstanding services
  • Gold Heart Awards: Gestures that require a significant change in routine, powerful actions that evoke a strong emotional response from the general public and outright heroics that keep passengers safe.   

Southwest Airlines
Jason, Ramp Agent

When Jason found a Buzz Lightyear toy on board in Little Rock, Arkansas, the ramp agent knew someone would be missing him. After finding the name “Hagen” on Buzz’s boot, he tracked down the toy’s owner and sent him home in a hand-decorated box, with a letter describing his mission at Southwest Airlines.


Virgin Australia
Olivia Cayzer

Pipsqueak was sailing in the Gulf of Mexico with her owners in March when COVID-19 forced the family to urgently fly home to Sydney, Australia. Strangers in the US cared for Pip until she was able to return home in August. When Pip got stuck in Melbourne due to cargo flights being full as a result of state border restrictions, Virgin Australia booked her on the next available flight to Sydney. Crew member Olivia Cayzer was instrumental in reuniting Pip with her family.

Flight Attendant

Instead of making a regular PA announcement at the end of a flight, a KLM crewmember sang “When Will I See You Again” by  The Three Degrees. “In this difficult time…music brings us together and that’s why I will sing a song to you to say goodbye,” she said.

Delta Air Lines
Danielle Pope, Delta Global Services

When Delta Global Services employee Danielle Pope found an important-looking business portfolio with a laptop inside at Atlanta Airport, she quickly phoned and messaged the owner to make sure he was reunited with his possessions. The owner turned out to be Dr. Joe Leader, CEO of APEX and IFSA, who was only too happy to bestow a silver heart award on Danielle and Delta for their great customer service.

Southwest Airlines
Bobby, Flight Attendant

When Southwest Airlines flight attendant Bobby realized that Dustin and Caren Moore were flying home from Colorado to Southern California with their newly adopted baby girl, he made an announcement welcoming her as a special guest. He then passed napkins and pens around the cabin, so passengers could write supportive messages to the Moores, like, “Enjoy every minute. It goes by sooo very fast.” The couple ended up with about 60 napkins and a set of pilot wings for their new daughter.

British Airways and Heathrow

British Airways customer Phil Reynolds spent a lot of time at Heathrow Airport during the first year of his relationship with Bethan, who was living in China at the time. Upon learning that Phil was planning to propose at Heathrow, the airport worked with BA to display “Will you marry me?” across screens in Terminal 5. After Bethan said yes, the couple was taken to the Concorde Room lounge to toast their engagement.

Delta Air Lines
Janna, Flight Attendant

Ashely Ober, a 16-year-old deaf Maryland native, was flying to Rochester to attend a conference for deaf and hard-of-hearing college-bound students. She had only flown alone once before. When she boarded the aircraft, a flight attendant named Janna gave her a handwritten note, including some safety instructions, to make her feel at ease.

Delta Air Lines

When Demetria Poe was the victim of racist actions by another passenger during a Delta flight, she posted about her experience on Facebook. Delta responded to her post with a supportive message. The airline also upgraded her seat on her return flight and gifted her a Black Lives Matter pin engraved with Delta’s logo.

American Airlines
Deanna, Flight Attendant

Lori was on a business trip when she was called home to see her ailing father one last time. When her initial flight was delayed by an hour, she thought she might miss her connection – the last of the day – and passed a desperate note to a flight attendant on the gate. Shortly afterwards, she received one back from Deanna to let her know that the pilot of her connecting flight had been informed and was willing to hold the flight for her if necessary. On landing, she was also greeted by a vehicle on the tarmac, which transferred her quickly onto the next leg of her journey. She made it home in time to see her father again.

Delta Air Lines
Flight Attendants

After Mum Arielle contacted Delta about her daughter Kenley’s special Daddy Doll, which went missing during their journey between Connecticut and Atlanta, the airline jumped into action. Days later, Kenley’s doll – which features a goodnight recording from her father, who is currently away on military deployment – was flown home and presented to 18-month-old Kenley alongside a stuffed Delta plane and a handwritten note detailing all her Daddy Doll’s flying adventures.

Southwest Airlines

Grayson lost his favorite teddy bear while he was flying with Southwest Airlines over Thanksgiving. When they were unable to locate the bear, Southwest asked if Grayson wanted a new bear, named Jack. Before making his way to his new owner, Jack the Bear made a tour of Southwest’s aviation facilities and documented his adventures before chronicling his flight in a customized storybook for Grayson.

United Airlines
Brian, Captain

A United Airlines captain took his own birthday as an opportunity to recognize others. On a flight from Houston to Phoenix, he thanked the veterans on board over the intercom and shook their hands. “It’s the real moments like this that truly engage customers and create loyalty,” said one of the passengers who posted about the captain on LinkedIn.

American Airlines
Joseph Weiss, Pilot

When American Airlines pilot Joseph Weis found out his last flight was the first flight for a two-year old passenger with Down syndrome, he decided to pass along his wings to a future generation.