Southwest Airlines hands out ukuleles to passengers traveling to Hawaii

Passengers wanting to get away for a vacation in Hawaii last week received an added bonus -- ukulele lessons at 30,000 feet.

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During Friday’s six-hour flight from Long Beach, California, to Honolulu on Southwest Airlines, passengers were given a Mitchell MU40 Soprano ukulele from Guitar Center and a free class taught while the aircraft sped toward Hawaii, “Today” reported. Passengers also received a Road Runner carrying case.

According to a news release, Guitar Center said it was the first-ever in-flight ukulele class.

“By the time they arrived in Honolulu they were pros,” Southwest tweeted.

According to Guitar Center’s news release, Alexandra Windsor, the educational affairs specialist for Guitar Center Lessons, teamed with two of the company’s instructors in Pearl City, Hawaii -- Ryan Miyashiro and Ryan Imata -- taught passengers to play “Hello, Aloha. How are you?”

“I’ve taught students through Guitar Center Lessons since 2014, but never in an airplane. It was inspiring to see how quickly passengers of all ages picked up the ukulele -- many with no musical background,” Windsor said in a statement. “The ukulele is the perfect instrument for beginners, and it shows just how fun and easy learning something new can be.”

“Our customers anticipate warm Southwest hospitality throughout their journeys with us, and these ‘Surprise and Delight’ events are a unique way to create memorable experiences,” Southwest spokesperson Brandy King said in a statement. “Today’s celebration of Hawaiian culture and Southwest hospitality underscore our everyday commitment to serve and celebrate the spirit of Aloha.”

The ukulele has been part of Hawaiian lore for years. It arrived on the islands in 1879 with Joao Fernandez, a Portuguese immigrant, according to “Today.” Island natives were so impressed with the instrument that they called it “ukulele,” which translates to “jumping flea,” the news outlet reported.

Elvis Presley famously played the ukulele in the 1961 film “Blue Hawaii,” “Today” reported. According to the Graceland website, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was known for “toying” with the instrument.

In 1968, Herbert Khaury -- known as Tiny Tim -- was an entertainment sensation with his ukulele version of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” a popular song from the 1929 film “Gold Diggers of Broadway.”

Not everyone on Twitter was enamored with the music lessons above the Pacific Ocean.

“You harassed an entire flight for a promotional partnership?!” one person tweeted. “As someone with sensory processing issues related to noise, I would literally have been bent double in my seat, arms over my head, sobbing, and having a panic attack.”

“I AM a music teacher and I would object to this,” another Twitter user wrote. “As much as I would personally like a free ukulele, I don’t think other people should be subjected to that against their will.”

Even rail giant Amtrak got into the act, tweeting that “BTW we have a quiet car.”

Southwest officials said the musical interlude was brief.

“Don’t worry, y’all, everyone put their ukuleles away after 20 minutes since they had already mastered how to play,” the airline wrote.

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