United Express Pilot Plays Violin For Passengers On Christmas

Passengers flying on a United Express flight were serenaded by their violin-playing pilot this Christmas season. The flight from Newark to Kansas City was taking off just after midnight last Thursday. Caught on Twitter, pilot Joseph Tar Schmidt performed “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” for the passengers of his flight.

United Express is the regional arm of United Airlines. Photo: United Airlines

A hit on Twitter

Passengers, as well as Twitter users, welcomed the mini-performance. Travel during the peak holiday periods can be extra stressful with full flights and irritated passengers on tight schedules. However, Schmidt’s performance appears to have brought joy to all those who witnessed it:

Speaking with USA TODAY, Schmidt said the following after his video hit the internet:

“It was truly an honor to play for our lovely customers this Christmas. Bringing holiday cheer one carol at a time! It was something I’ve wanted to do for a few years but never got around to it for one reason or another…The setting was right (on) Christmas Day, as I knew we had great weather and weren’t expecting any delays. I am extremely lucky to have the ability to share my two passions with others around me — flying, and playing my violin.”

With support from United Airlines

When contacted for comment, United Airlines expressed nothing but support for their crew spreading some Christmas cheer:

“We know that holiday travel can be stressful and it’s great to see our employees striving to make the customer experience as enjoyable as possible.” -United Airlines via USA TODAY

United Express Pilot Plays Violin For Passengers On Christmas
Newark Liberty Airport is a major United Airlines hub. Photo: Flickr user Ken Lund

Other moments of spontaneous fun

What you might expect as the same incident in a parallel universe, a concert violinist by the name of Giora Schmidt was flying on Delta Air Lines in April. The musician was encouraged to perform for passengers in order to convince some of them to give up their overhead locker space for his violin.

While both incidents involve a man with the last name Schmidt playing the violin, there is no relation whatsoever. However, Joseph (the pilot) is photographed in front of a Delta Connection aircraft on his Twitter feed. Maybe the two can play a duet one day if they’re on the same aircraft?

It’s a little less musical, but we also have to mention the rather bizarre incident of a Southwest Airlines flight attendant hiding in the overhead luggage bin. According to The Independent, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said:

“Southwest Employees are known for demonstrating their sense of humour and unique personalities.”

Some passengers found this funny – others found it just a little too weird… and not funny.

United Express E175
Airlines that operate under the name United Express use aircraft like the Embraer E170 and E175. Photo: Embraer


So often we only ever receive negative news of airline workers – whether it’s being accused of racism, working under the influence, or attempting to smuggle drugs. Joseph Tar Schmidt’s performance reminds us that airline crews can be recognized for positive acts. Unfortunately wonderful things like this big and small can go unreported. Hopefully, we’ll see more in 2020.

Do you have any recent memories where your flight crew went above and beyond their regular duties to make passengers feel welcomed? Share your story with us by leaving a comment!