A few weeks ago, American Airlines Capt. Brian Lenzen landed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport gate K5 after piloting a flight from Dublin, Ireland. It was something he had done hundreds of times before. Although, this time was different.
After over 34 years of working with the airline, this was to be his final flight.
Retirement was in his near future and it was a bittersweet moment for the man. However, what he never expected was that there would be an entire crowd of people waiting for him as he crossed through the gate into Chicago.
Dozens of members of the St. Anthony on the Lake choir had shown up to pay tribute to Capt. Lenzen and his impressive career.
As he walked through gate K5, the group began singing the Irish Blessing, “Until We Meet Again”.
The whole heartwarming performance was captured on video and later shared on Facebook by American Airlines.
If you like emotional moments, you simply have to check it out for yourself. The post has since gone viral, receiving hundreds of thousands of views.
“I’m walking off the jet bridge and I hear this singing going on, and I’m like, ‘What the heck is going on up here?'” Lenzen told KARE11.
The choir moved Capt. Lenzen to tears.
He was so surprised and grateful for their showing.
“It was just a very special moment,” said Lenzen. “I’m kind of an emotional guy anyway, and so I got a little tearful realizing that was for me.”
If it was up to him, he would have continued flying for another few years.
He loved the job, but now, at 65 years old, international flying regulations mandated that he hung up his pilot’s hat. Capt. Lenzen spent his whole life flying, working for several other airlines before signing on with American. The Chaska, Minnesota native now plans on passing his golden years with his wife relaxing at their lake house up north.
“It’s pretty nice to get away and not have to go to work,” he said. “But also, I often miss the job.”
Many people consider being a pilot a dream career, which is partially why Capt. Lenzen signed up for it to begin with. He always had a passion for the job.
“I got flying because I love flying, obviously,” said Lenzen. “You get paid for doing something you love, it’s a pretty neat thing.”
While he will certainly miss the job, it’s great that he was able to end on a high note.
For his final flight, Capt. Lenzen even got to handpick his crew and destination.
He chose Dublin. He also added that he and the group had a “wonderful time” celebrating in a Dublin pub before returning to Chicago. Obviously, not on the same day.
On their return flight, the choir just so happened to be on the plane. When they learned that it was the pilot’s last trip, they asked the flight attendants if it would be okay if they sang for him. Of course, the flight attendants said yes. Capt. Lenzen never expected the impromptu surprise, but we are so happy for how things played out.
Watching the video, it looks like a great send off after a long and amazing career.
Check out the full video of the choir’s Irish Blessing that brought the Capt. to tears below.
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Sound on 🔈, tissues out 🤧. Members of the St. Anthony on the Lake choir surprised #AATeam Capt. Brian Lenzen by singing an Irish blessing after his retirement flight from Dublin to Chicago.
Posted by American Airlines on Thursday, July 18, 2019