Southwest Airlines staffer returns 1940s letters to family who accidentally left them on flight

The letters were written by Rachel DeGolia’s late mother with the storage envelope reading, "Mom's letters to Phil."

(Southwest Airlines)

An Ohio family is grateful to Southwest Airlines after the company was able to return priceless letters from the 1940s that were left behind on a flight.

A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines told FOX Business that the bundle of letters — which date back to 1941 — was brought to its baggage service office at Chicago Midway International Airport to be placed with lost and found. From there, the Southwest spokesperson confirmed, Sarah Haffner, one of the employees who works in the department, spotted the letters and thought they were too precious to be stored with the rest of lost and found. No one initially came to retrieve the letters, so Haffner locked them in a safe in the office.


Haffner reviewed the letters for clues to try and find potential family members to whom she could return them, but came up dry given the time that had elapsed since they were penned. That all changed when Haffner spotted a return address on one of the envelopes, time stamped in August 2021. 

(Southwest Airlines/Stephen M. Keller) (Southwest Airlines/Stephen M. Keller)

Haffner had a name: Rachel DeGolia. DeGolia was not in the Southwest Airlines database so Haffner Googled the name and eventually found a phone number, which led her to DeGloia.

It had been DeGolia’s brother, Carl, who traveled with the letters, which is why her name wasn’t in the system. The letters were written by DeGolia’s late mother with the storage envelope reading, "Mom's letters to Phil."


"We were so thankful and relieved to find out that the Southwest baggage staff saved the letters from our mother that my brother had inadvertently left on the plane and figured out how to contact me to return them!" DeGolia said in a statement emailed to FOX Business. "Our mother died 25 years ago and her letters dated from her high school and college years, written to her brother, and were irreplaceable."