Envoy Travel Stories: Secret trip to Hong Kong

Cover photo: Cullen and Kay Hippler engagement photo. Photo courtesy of Cullen Hippler.

The airline industry is everything to some people. It’s a part our lives in the biggest and smallest ways. 

For Envoy Cadet Cullen Hippler, 26, he said that without his job at Envoy he never would have met and married his wife Kay. 

“The travel privileges at Envoy are the gateway to being able to stay connected to ones we love,” said Cullen.

That “gateway” led Cullen to Hong Kong where Kay’s parents live to ask them for their daughter’s hand in marriage. Let’s hear more from Cullen about how travel privileges changed his life.

Can’t take it for granted

Cullen and Kay Hippler mid-flight on the flight deck of an aircraft. Photo courtesy of Cullen Hippler.

How did you and your wife meet?

My wife, Kay, and I met at LeTourneau University. She works as the Assistant to the Dean of the College of Aviation, and at the time, I was working as a Flight Instructor.

In your own words, how are Envoy travel privileges more than just free flights?

For my wife and I, the travel privileges at Envoy are the gateway to being able to stay connected to ones we love. My wife has lived all over the country, and with her parents living out of the country, there are so many things that we would miss without this opportunity. 

As we have all learned over the past year, a computer screen cannot replace being there in person. Being able to travel on the expansive American Airlines network is not something we take for granted. 

‘Surprise is an understatement”

Cullen Hippler with his wife’s parents in Hong Kong. Photo courtesy of Cullen Hippler.

How did you come up with the plan to fly to Hong Kong to meet Kay’s parents without her knowing?

As soon as I knew that Kay was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I began to think through this plan. Within a few days of me discussing my plans with her parents via phone, I was packing my bags and on my way to Hong Kong. 

Long story short, I created an elaborate cover story to tell Kay as to why I would be without cell service for a few days. On my way to Hong Kong, a family emergency arose that would require her parents to return to the states. 

As a result, I needed to break the news to her shortly after I landed there. Surprise is an understatement to describe Kay’s reaction. 

FaceTime screenshot of Kay’s surprise when Cullen called her from Hong Kong. Photo courtesy of Cullen Hippler.

First, I sent her a text of me in front of a picture on the wall in her parents flat; it was the first thing that she had ever shown me from her parents place overseas. Then, once I got her on the phone, it was almost twenty minutes before she would even turn the camera on so that I could see her face.

I was there for a total of 36 hours, and had the opportunity to begin the conversation of marriage with her parents. Once we eventually got back to the U.S., I got their blessing.

Cullen and Kay Hippler on their wedding day posing with Kay’s parents. Photo courtesy of Cullen Hippler.

A few weeks later, on the day before Kay’s birthday, I proposed at the gate leading into my family’s ranch; the place where she first knew that she wanted to marry me. 

It was nothing near as elaborate as all that had occurred leading to this moment, but it was our spot, our time, and it was perfect for us.

“I have made the right choice.”

Cullen Hippler on the flight deck of an aircraft mid-flight. Photo courtesy of Cullen Hippler.

How helpful is the Cadet Program to you in regards to benefits for you and your family?

Being a Cadet Instructor is a unique opportunity. Not only does it come with the privileges of being an employee, but it really gives you the chance to get to know the company that you are going to work for. 

The team mentality displayed by a lot of our colleagues has solidified for me that I have made the right choice, and confirmed that this is the work family I want to be a part of.

Aviation is an incredible industry. I consider myself blessed to be a part of an industry and a company where I can enjoy the fulfilling work that I do.

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