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Between bad weather, technical failures, delays and cancellations, cramped seats and minuscule bathrooms, hotel snafus and even puking passengers, traveling can be stressful. When traveling, the smallest gestures of goodwill can be particularly meaningful, especially when they are unexpected. TPG reader Russell B. recently asked our Facebook group members to share “moments of magic” where strangers made a difficult or painful time easier to manage, or simply when a kind word or deed made a trip more meaningful.

A lot of good travel deeds go unnoticed: What’s the best undeserved random act of kindness you have received from an airline or hotel?

Image courtesy of Getty Images

It’s The Little Things

On United, the flight attendant gave my kids free snack boxes. It’s the little things… – Betsy A.

This is a small one that went a long way; on a Fargo-Denver flight this past summer the gate agent gave me an exit row free of charge without me even asking. – Bryan M.

Marriott at Detroit airport. Stranded overnight due to Delta’s computer meltdown. Manager gave me a free dinner. Very nice and unexpected. – Ann B.

On a flight back from Delhi, got sick before boarding (lousy food I guess), and the head flight attendant of the Emirates flight moved people around so I could have 3 seats to lie down, which was very much appreciated on the long flight. – Julie L.

JetBlue waived our $75 per ticket change fee, and upgraded us to Even More Space seats when I mentioned we were on vacation for our 10th anniversary and wanted to stay on vacation a little longer. Oh, and Paradisus Playa del Carmen – overbooked and had to move us to another resort for 2 nights. Paid for our transport to the other resort and back. Upgraded us to the top of the line room for the 3 remaining nights of our stay, and gave us a certificate to return for 5 nights in an equally lovely room. Their mistake, yes, but they certainly went above and beyond to make up for it. – Laura M.

A Spirit ticketing agent gave me one of those big seats in the first row because I was the first person to say please and thank you that day. – Seth L.

My first stay at the G hotel in Penang, Malaysia, was over my birthday week. Came back to my room with a cake, candles and a card signed by the staff. Made a long work day really nice. – Anthony G.

Marriott Gaslamp, San Diego – halted all elevators [for us], later sent a large flower arrangement after my spouse had a seizure. (Please donate to brain tumor charities) – Doug D.

Traveling from Frankfurt to Detroit on Northwest at the time. Without asking and a total surprise, the pilot broke in on the intercom and started singing “Happy Birthday” to my 11 year old daughter. The whole plane joined in. – Rick S.

I was upgraded on a flight from Las Vegas to LAX on United at the gate. I had no status, but an aggressive status traveler (was) pushing for an upgrade and in lieu of giving it to him he gave it to me so he could tell the other guy there were no seats. He gave me a bit of a wink as i knew what he was doing and he could tell I knew. Did i mention i never even asked for it? I was just super nice. When i got to the counter the other guy had just left. I said to the agent “you seem to be having a rough day, take a breath. Good morning “. That was it. Be nice. – Jerrod K.

Westin Copley Boston – I was flustered that the gift shop was closed for 15 minutes because I needed a quick snack. The front desk attendant ran out into the employee room and brought me back a bunch of Kind Bars. What he didn’t know is he saved me from a potential crisis – I’m hypoglycemic and my blood sugar was seriously low. #spgforlife – Gloria L.

Not a airline or hotel, but when I was in college and was flying out of Baltimore by myself to visit some friends in Pittsburgh. Was at a diner in the airport and when it was time to pay, the waitress told me that someone else had already picked up the bill and that I was all set. I still have no idea who did that for me. – Jake F.

Flight crew treated my son and me with dignity when I told them he had food allergies. All dignity required was polite acknowledgement, no judgement, and showing me labels on food. – Robin S.

My wife and I were transiting in Kunming, China and had to go through immigration with a relatively tight 90 min layover. I used the ABTC card for front of line privileges but she followed the rules and stayed in line which would be at least an hour. Immigration officer noticed me looking anxious and allowed us to bring my wife up to the front as well. So instead of counting down the seconds we got to hang out at the lounge for nearly an hour instead. Thanks China Immigration! – Alex T.

Westjet last summer. Calgary – Vancouver. Husband and I were flying with my 2-year-old while I was 7 months pregnant. Somehow I messed up when I checked us in and put my husband 10+ rows behind my son and me. Since I’m the one who messed up, I didn’t try to ask for anything. But the flight attendant noticed. She bribed another passenger with snacks and free booze to get him to switch seats with my husband. I thought my husband asked her, and he thought I did. It wasn’t until after the flight that we realized the flight attendant was the one who initiated the whole thing. Wish I had appropriately thanked her but I was too flustered with my kid who was crying. – Eu T.

Our favorite little get away is The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee. We wanted to go for an overnight get away for our anniversary but the rooms were higher priced than normal. I sent a message asking of there was any discount codes to be found anywhere and they offered us a room at a reduced rate. When we checked in we found champagne and chocolates in our room to help us celebrate. I love that place! – Carrie M.

Years ago I became ill while in England and had to fly back to the US for emergency surgery. As I changed flights and was flying the day of change, I was flagged and questioned. I explained the situation, they helped me through security quickly, and cleared the row on the plane so I would have the entire row. It helped! – Cal C.

I was staying at a Hyatt Place following my mom’s death and staff brought me flowers and a card signed by all of them. Very unexpected but appreciated in a difficult time! – Christine S. 

Asked nicely in Dublin if my flight to Boston was full. The agent winked and said it looks full but would free up. Even told me which row to move to once on board. Had space to stretch out after a long week. – Lisa M.

Was at the airport early for a flight and hanging around the gate. Southwest agent noticed I was still sitting there after she boarded the flight. Offered to and put me on the earlier flight – no charge and volunteered to do it. – Karen W.

Stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific on the Club level. Spouse is allergic to seafood. And yes, seafood was being served and the concierge was so apologetic and offered to get a replacement meal for hubby. He was awesome and I shared my appreciation to leadership. – Karen F.

Delayed flight had me get into a Sheraton in Atlanta at almost 3am. They upgraded me to club level without request or explanation. I didn’t even know until I got to the room. It was so wonderful after a stressful travel night. – Elena G.

Dog tired and miserable trying to find the USO in LAX. The Delta SkyClub let me in, handed me a Bloody Mary, and my own corner to sleep with no charge. – Owen B.

Connecting flight was delayed enough that I was most certainly going to miss my next flight which was the last flight of the night. Southwest held the plane for ~30 minutes so me and the 1 other passenger in the same situation could make it. Really great for me and i was not expecting it, probably not as pleasant for the rest of the passengers on the plane though. – LaToya M.

We just stayed at a Hilton property in NYC. When checking in, I used my military ID and he gave us 3 comp vouchers for the buffet breakfast. Doesn’t sound like much but it’s like $30 a person normally. That’s $90 for us to blow on souvenirs from a Broadway show! – Jan T.

While vacationing in Canada this summer, my daughter got strep on the second day of the trip. The lounge attendant overheard me on the phone talking to a local clinic, trying to sort out how an American could get a strep test (that’s a whole other story lol). She made up a basket of goodies for my daughter, offered to call other clinics, and offered to find OTC meds. She was wonderful. The front desk staff arranged for us to have a later checkout (we’d planned on being out at 9am!) and helped me find additional clinics when the first one was a bust. Love the Delta hotel in Moncton!! Wonderful staff. – Maggie M.

Amsterdam hostel/hotel calling a doc to refill a scrip I forgot to bring and would have been near impossible to refill at my next destination–he consulted with me over phone and called the pharmacy where I paid a few euros for it (tip of the hat to generic drugs and soc. medicine as well!). – Brian C.

I used a SPG reward night at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit a couple weeks ago and they surprise upgraded me to a suite for no reason. I’m just a regular SPG member, but about 98% of all my Starwood stays since 2006 have been at this one hotel. Guess they noticed. I promptly walked back to the front desk and tipped the guy. – Mark S.

Woman floating on inflatable ring in luxury swimming pool
Image courtesy of Getty Images

Grand Gestures

Wife left her phone on the plane while traveling with me from Charlotte  to New Orleans. Phone made its way back to CLT, where an airline employee found it, called us to settle nerves, and held it until we returned to CLT, meeting us at the gate with it fully charged. Employee of the year! – Mike M.

My flight got diverted to an airport 150 miles away and a ground crew member who suddenly had nothing to do all afternoon drove my car (which was parked in the actual destination’s lot) all the way there to meet me. (I always leave a key in the car, and I live in a small town and the airport is in it, most workers are local and know me.) – Seth L.

I took a bump from Detroit to Toronto on Delta. [I was the] first volunteer, so they gave me $800 + a $25 food voucher, and the gate agent called in to get me put up in the Westin at the airport and told the other gate agent it was fair since I volunteered first. – Anthony P.

Stayed at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore on what was the 6-month date-anniversary with wife of now 2+ years. Asked the bellman to call us a taxi to get to the restaurant we spent our first date at and next thing you know we were in a limo en route, courtesy of the bellman! – Matthew C.

2011- Flying United economy Bahrain – Dulles with a stop in Kuwait to pick up more pax and a flight attendant let me sit in a lie flat seat for the short leg just because I asked to try it out when boarding. – Seth L.

Not for me, but my dad had emergency back surgery 2 weeks before a long planned trip to New Zealand in 2005. His doctor told him he couldn’t sit up for the flight LAX-AKL, threatening him being able to go on the trip. He emailed the president of Air New Zealand to explain the situation. They upgraded him to business class (for free!) for the flight so he could lay flat. Because of this, I’ve adopted the motto “it never hurts to ask.” – Raina R.

Years ago, I got off a US Airways flight at LGA. Found out my father had passed away while I was in the air. They let me back on the plane I just left and put me in First Class for the immediate return. Flight attendants were wonderful. – Scott C.

A few years back I left my purse under the seat in front of me on China Southern flight (Beijing to Wuhan). I got to the hotel at midnight realizing my huge error. Our driver called the airline, they located the bag, and held it at the airport. Our driver went the next morning to collect it for me. The hotel (Best Western in Wuhan), at the urging of our driver allowed us to check in with no passports, absolutely no ID and no credit card/money to check in. The next morning I got my bag back. Everything intact. Money, credit cards, passports, medicine and phones. The kindness and goodwill extended by essentially strangers in my moment of need made a huge impact upon me. – Jennifer R.

I flew from Fort Lauderdale to Norfolk on my 30th birthday. United threw me a surprise birthday party in the club next to my gate. They made me a coffee cake cupcake with a candle in it, Prosecco, and upgraded me to first class. The head gate agent and the people working in the club sang to me. It was hilarious. – Seth Levy

Image courtesy of Seth Levy from Facebook

 

Traveling Colorado Springs – Houston – San Antonio on United because my dad had passed away. Got into the air and pilot stated there was thick fog in Houston, so we may get diverted to San Antonio until it clears. Asked flight attendant if we could get off there if so. She stated no because we will be on the tarmac away from gates. Well we landed in SA after circling Houston for a while. And because the plane was low on fuel, they would have to open the doors for refueling! The FA came to us and asked if we had checked luggage, we didn’t but had to gate check our carry-ons! They called a van/driver, pulled a ladder to the plane, had someone crawl under and find our bags and we were in the terminal before our original arrival time! Amazing customer service! Later found out that plane didn’t leave for Houston for 3 hours! 🤗 – Deb C. 

I recently did a special birthday trip (50th) from Denver to Whistler, Canada. Even hauled my new skis. I came down with a horrible cold and bad bronchitis. The LOVELY folks at the Fairmont upgraded me to the Gold floor (with lounge access), found me a local doctor, drove me there and picked me up. They called to check on me. And they offered to make me a custom soup via room service. Plus it was my birthday so they brought me a special chocolate cake dessert. There wasn’t much skiing but I was so grateful. Cheers to you Fairmont, you know how to do hospitality right. – Tami D.

Had lost my passport in India, hotel made an exception and took my photo of it, then I was upgraded to the presidential suite which I spent the next 5 days in until I got my passport. – Alessandro I.

20k in points from Marriott [in exchange] for a compliment. – Josh L.

Last month I was staying at a Westin undergoing the last bit of a yearlong remodel. As I would be there an entire week, I contacted the GM to ask how bad it would be and he assured me it was almost done but noted the few customer facing areas that would affect me, I decided to stay anyway. Upon checking in I found out that he had upgraded me to their VIP suite that isn’t even bookable, only assignable via management! – Alex T.

Photo courtesy Viking

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