A flight from Seattle, Washington to Juneau, Alaska started off normally enough. All of the passengers found their way to their seats, takeoff was smooth, and the plane stabilized at 34,000 feet. It wasn’t until the airline stewardesses started serving coffee that the passengers realized something was in the air.
In the cockpit sat the pilot, the co-pilot, and a man named Eric Greener who sat in the flight deck jump seat. Greener is a pilot for Ravn Alaska and had boarded the plane covertly, harboring a secret agenda. Once everyone was settled in, he put his carefully orchestrated plan to work.
Eric Greener wasn’t the pilot on this Alaska Airlines flight, but he snuck on to a plane heading to Juneau, Alaska, with a secret plan that only a few people were aware of.
Greener met 34-year-old Brandy Hollenbeck by chance one day while she was eating a double cheeseburger. Two months earlier, in a strange coincidence, Hollenbeck had met Greener’s mother on one of the flights she was working. Greener’s mother encouraged Hollenbeck to meet her 30-year-old son, who was a pilot, and though Hollenbeck agreed, she had no intention of actually doing so.
She told Alaska Dispatch News that she figured it was “just someone trying to hook me up with their kid, which happens all the time.”
While waiting for one of her shifts to start, she couldn’t help but notice a man was staring at her while she ate her burger. She thought, “What’s going on with this guy?”
Greener was smitten with the way Hollenbeck flaunted convention and ate her cheeseburger while in her uniform. He struck up a conversation with her and got her phone number.
It didn’t take long for both of them to realize that Greener’s mother tried to set them up two months earlier. The next day, Greener called his mother to tell her she was right.
“I told her she’s the best wingman I ever had, and she’s like, ‘What’s a wingman?'” he told Alaska Dispatch News.
The two started dating, fell in love, and moved in together in Anchorage, Alaska. Both were already thinking about marriage, but only Hollenbeck was trying to discuss it openly. Every time she brought it up, Greener would divert the conversation elsewhere. She worried that they’d have to “have a talk” about it.
Greener already knew for months that he wanted to propose to Hollenbeck, but he wasn’t sure how. That’s when he got the idea to propose to her mid-flight while on the final flight of a nearly three-week tour. The couple hadn’t seen each other for 19 days.
Greener scrambled to make arrangements, enlisting the help of the other flight attendants, the pilots, and those who were working the gate of the flight.
It was a coordinated effort to get Greener on the flight. The other flight attendants kept Hollenbeck occupied in the back of the flight while Greener snuck on board. Once the ascent was over and the plane was cruising at 34,000 feet, Greener got on the intercom and started to tell the story of how they fell in love.
The mother, the double cheeseburger, the falling in love, it all sounded very familiar to Hollenbeck.
“This guy is telling my love story,” she said to a passenger. That’s when Greener finally popped the question.
“Brandy Hollenbeck, I’ve loved you since the moment I met you and I want to be the man for you for the rest of your life. Will you marry me?”
Hollenbeck had no idea that the proposal was coming.
After Greener popped the question, he emerged from the flight deck and started racing down the aisle towards Hollenbeck. She met him halfway and they embraced. She was so shocked and excited, she forgot to answer the question—a passenger had to remind her.
Of course, she said yes, and the passengers on the plane erupted in applause; several were in tears. The entire message and Hollenbeck’s reaction were recorded by one of the employees who was in on the plot.
“The pilots were in on it, the gate agents were in on it, everyone was coordinating this proposal,” Hollenbeck said. “I had no idea.”
The couple married in the summer of 2015 in a beautiful rustic ceremony in Hope, Alaska.