Virgin CEO gifts business class flights to baggage handler after TikTok goes viral

A baggage handler has been rewarded with free business class flights after video footage of him soothing a nervous canine went viral.

The TikTok, which was viewed more than 3.3 million times, shows the airport worker reassuring Cooper the dog as it was transported into the cargo hold of a Virgin Australia aircraft.

The intimate encounter has captured the hearts of people around the world, with one TikTok user dubbing the airport worker “Australian of the year” and others claiming the video moved them to tears.

“I am putting my pup on a plane back to the ‘States from the UK in two days and this just made me cry!” one viewer wrote.

Another added: “If I was seeing that first hand, I would have LOST it crying.”

The footage also left some international viewers aghast that the pet dog was being transported in the cargo hold.

Australian federal aviation law stipulates that only service animals can travel in cabins, in contrast to many overseas jurisdictions, which allow pets to travel alongside their owners for a fee.

A flood of comments from concerned viewers ranged from “Super sweet but I would rather die than put my dog ​​in cargo” to “I’d much rather sit next to someone’s pet than a kid on an airline, it must be awful for them under there”.

The plot took another twist as Virgin Australia’s CEO Jane Hrdlicka made a special trip to Perth to surprise the staff member, Chad Williams.

In footage shared by the carrier, the airline executive can be heard telling Williams “we’re just really proud of you”, before offering the airline worker two round-trip business class tickets to anywhere in the network.

Hrdlicka also teased the man about the rumored female attention he’s received on the back of the viral video.

“[The business class flights] obviously gives you the ability to bring along a friend. So I know you’ve been getting lots of offers from amazing women around the world so, you know, you have the option to use it if you want,” Hrdlicka says, with a laugh.

Williams, unrecognizable behind a mask covering and pair of sunglasses, responds: “Thank you so much, I’m blown away.”

The original video, captured and shared by Channel 7 reporter Jacqueline Felgate on April 24, currently features more than 2600 comments from TikTok users across the world, praising the man.

William’s soothing words for dog Cooper were later revealed in an interview with Felgate.

In the TikTok follow-up, he explains that despite his looks, he’s a softie when he comes to animals.

“It’s pretty loud out here and they’re probably scared, they don’t really know where they’re going or what’s happening so [we] try to look after them as best we can,” he says in the clip.

“I was just reassuring him and asking him if he was ready to board really, just like the passengers get asked up at the gate. I said Coopy mate, you’ll be fine, hope you have a safe flight. We’ll see you on the other side.”

When approached by Travelerthe airport worker said he’s yet to booster a seat mate, though he’s had no shortage of interested parties (“There’s a few [women] who’ve slid into my DMs volunteering themselves for the spare ticket”).

As for destinations, he’s in no rush to decide.

“Virgin aren’t flying to that many places right now, so I’m sort of waiting for [international travel] to open up and go to Queenstown, as I’m a pretty avid snowboarder,” Williams told Traveler.

Despite finding the attention “overwhelming” at times, Williams said the experience has been positive overall.

“I’m quite an introverted person and since the video I’ve had my phone blowing up and people recognizing me, but the resounding response has been far more positive than negative. It’s very heart warming.”

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