My Dolly Parton story and how you can win four American Airlines tickets

If you travel often enough, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll end up with a celebrity story to add to your travel tales.  Here’s one of mine.

Over the years I’ve seen Dolly Parton appear on Letterman, Leno, Conan and lots of other programs and she’s one of those celebrities that you hope is as nice in person as she appears on television.

I was making a connection in Chicago a few years ago, and I was at the gate waiting for the incoming flight to empty.  I overheard some of the passengers that were coming off the plane talking about someone and how nice she was, and how she looked great in real life, so I figured that someone famous must have been on the flight.

I wasn’t all the interested and was more focused on watching the flight display to see if my upgrade would clear, so I didn’t pay that much attention.   I glanced back over to the gate and saw a small lady with blond hair, walking away with a couple of airport or airline attendants.   I didn’t recognize her or even make the connection at the time, but it was Dolly Parton.

My upgrade cleared and so I boarded with the first class passenger group.  I was getting settled in my seat and one of the other passengers asked the flight attendant if Dolly Parton had been on the earlier flight.

The flight attendant said that she had, so a few of the passengers asked what she was like.

“She was great. I’ve seen my share of celebrities on flights, and she was one of the nicest. She was giving everyone that asked an autograph and was so gracious about it. She joked with everyone. She was just really sweet”.

The other flight attendant joined in and said that she was definitely the nicest celebrity she had ever come across.

I thought that was pretty cool.

Anyway, she’s in the new movie “Joyful Noise” that comes out later this month. From the official website:

Two choir members have differing opinions on how to win the national choir competition.  Joyful Noise tells the story of an unlikely partnership between two strong-minded women (Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton) who are forced to work together to save a small town Gospel Choir after budget cuts threaten to shut them down.

To promote the film Warner Brothers is offering a sweepstakes:

Enter for your chance to win the Joyful Noise Gospel Giveaway!

The Grand Prize includes:

1. Music and wellness master class with Grammy Award winning producer Donald Lawrence for your favorite choir.
2. One hundred choir robes courtesy of Murphy Robes/Herff Jones.
3. One pastor robe courtesy of Murphy Robes/Herff Jones
4. Rond trip airfare for four courtesy of American Airlines

The contest rules are pretty restrictive in that you have to complete travel by the end of March.  Here’s some of the details from the official rules page:

• The grand prize winner and his or her travel guests must travel together on the same itinerary

• Airline tickets are non-refundable/nontransferable and are not valid for upgrades and/or frequent flyer miles.

• All airline tickets are subject to flight variation, work stoppages, and schedule or route changes and are for travel to any American Airlines destination in the forty-eight (48) contiguous United States, Canada and Mexico.

• Travel must be completed prior to March 29, 2012.

The ARV is $24,000 and the winner pays taxes.

To enter, all you have to do is visit this site and submit an entry.  The sweepstakes ends at 11:59 PM EST on 1/12/12.

If you have a celebrity story share it in the comments section.   Hope your year is off to a good start and have a great weekend!


  1. $24000!!!! Holy airway robbery Batman!

    At 20% effective tax rate that’s $4800 out of pocket. Flying to MX could yield some value, but nothing like that. I suspect the choir robes go for a decent price, but for most of us those (and the music lesson) have no value. I guess this is more targeted at a religious organization that could use the prizes and probably wouldn’t pay tax.

    It looks like a good movie though. I mean with Dolly and Latifah, how could it NOT be worth seeing?

    • Yikes! $4,800 is a little pricey for four North American round-trip tickets in coach. And you’re right, it would be hard to make a bad movie with these two actresses. Thanks for your comment (and for reading:-)!

  2. Closest I was to a celeb was seeing Alan Cumming who played nightcrawler in X2 (X-Men 2) while sitting in first on a UA flight to SFO I believe. He was in 1A and I in 3E on a 757 if I recall. Didn’t know who it was until I got home and looked him up but knew he looked familiar!

    • @ Mark – That’s a great story!

      I know how it can happen. I sat next to Jason Acuña on a flight and knew that he looked familiar, but it wasn’t until we get off the plane and a coworker mentioned it, that I was able recognize him.

      @ Bohemiana – Wow, you attract celebrities. I want to travel with you!

      Audrey Hepburn was also one of those celebrities that I liked to think of as measuring up to the image . Glad that she was as gracious and charming as I imagined she’d be. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I met Billy Ray Cyrus at the airport waiting for luggage and asked him for an autograph for my niece. He was very nice and asked me what he should write. I told him and he wrote, “To my fiend, Sandy”–No kidding.

    I also saw Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell waiting for a limo at the airport. She looked absolutely fabulous and he looked like a drunk bum.

    Also, years ago I met Audrey Hepburn at a party. I was introduced to her and we spoke for just a minute. She was just as you would expect–delightful, gracious and charming.

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