Thank you to the pilot who took 2 minutes to save our day
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
When you travel, sometimes, things go wrong. It doesn’t matter how prepared you are for the trip — life happens at 36,000 feet, at hotels or even in the middle of the ocean. Often, it’s what happens next that matters the most. There’s an opportunity for whatever happened to become a minor speed bump in the journey or a detour into the realm of a trip-gone-bad.
Recently, my youngest daughter has (re-entered) the realm of having airsickness on some flights. On the first leg of a long international journey, it struck again. Taking little kids to the other side of the world is stressful on a good day. Add starting off the long journey with that literal mess and … we were doubting our life choices after landing in San Francisco for an overnight layover.
I know that traveling with kids gets easier. But, as we stood in the middle of the terminal, figuring out not only how to get to our hotel for the night, but also debating whether or not we should just turn around and go home, a United pilot approached our haggard crew.
He quietly asked me if my 4-year-old was the passenger who had gotten sick on the flight. I nodded, half afraid someone was going to tell us we now weren’t even allowed to fly with her.
Instead, he bent down to her level and opened up his bag.
From his well-worn flight bag, the pilot pulled out his stash of wings. My kids fly a lot and are lucky enough to have lots of plastic airline wings at home. While the gesture is always appreciated (and I love the wings), truthfully, my kids normally aren’t all that impressed with them anymore.
But, this turned out not to be about the wings.
While the captain was handing over the wings, he kindly asked my young daughter how she was feeling. Like most young kids, sometimes she shies away from talking to strangers, but not this time. He went on to ask her where we were going next. They spoke for less than 60 seconds, but in those 60 seconds, she went from feeling awful and refusing to walk through the airport to smiling, beaming and virtually bouncing to the airport hotel.
As he walked away she smiled and said, “He cared about me.”
My kiddo is still young, but she is old enough to feel bad about getting sick on the plane. She is also old enough to feel special that a pilot wanted to check in on her. She said, “He is a grandpa to someone, but a pilot to me.” I think that translates to, “He was as kind and caring as a grandpa, even though he didn’t have to be.” She may well be right, and in that moment, he was exactly the right one to make her feel better about flying. He did what we couldn’t.
We have a box of similar wings at home, but this specific pair is different. Days later, my tiny traveler is still checking on her “special wings” several times per day. To her, they represent that someone cared and that it was OK to keep on flying even if things get bumpy along the way.
It’s often the horror stories that catch headlines, but small, meaningful moments are still happening all around us. Thank you to all in the travel industry — and beyond — that take those few minutes to make a world of difference.
Featured image by Karim Nafatni/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees