Two kind strangers recently went out of their way to turn my family’s travel nightmare into what has become one of our best travel memories.
— Carly Hoilman (@carlyhoilman) March 11, 2018
This past week, my husband, son and I attended a wedding in Milwaukee. Our original plan was to drive out from Pennsylvania, until we began hearing reports of a crazy nor’easter that was supposed to hit the day we were leaving.
Skipping the trip altogether was not an option — the bride was my best friend and I was matron of honor — so we looked at flights. We took what we could get, which wasn’t much given the high demand and short notice, and ended up booking separate flights on separate days.
Traveling to Milwaukee alone with my 6-month-old seemed daunting at first, but the trip went as smoothly as possible — he slept a good amount and charmed the TSA employees with kicks and coos. What I was really dreading, however, was the trek home: a 6 a.m. flight scheduled for the morning after the wedding, which inconveniently overlapped with Daylight Savings.
After a long day of celebration and only three hours of sleep, my son and I boarded the 4:15 a.m. shuttle to the airport. We were both exhausted and cranky.
As we began moving, Jeff, the surprisingly cheerful shuttle driver, asked everyone where we were headed.
“Philadelphia via Chicago,” I said.
That’s when a United Airlines employee sitting behind us informed me that my connecting flight had been delayed three hours. Not only would I be getting home later, but I’d now have an additional connecting flight in Washington, D.C.
“Can’t you see if you can do something about that?” Jeff asked the man.
“Yeah, I mean, she’s not doing all that with a baby,” he replied matter-of-factly. I was relieved that the prospect of two connecting flights and three extra hours of entertaining a fussy baby seemed just as ludicrous to him.
Before we reached the airport, the employee, who told me his name was Bennett, had already begun looking for ways to help me avoid the miserable odyssey that lay ahead.
Once we arrived, Jeff helped me haul my suitcase inside, and Bennett went straight to the United Airlines desk and began making calls.
“Your husband has a flight today too?” he asked, sounding surprised.
“Yes, but not until much later,” I said, explaining our predicament.
After about 30 minutes of calls, Bennett smiled and told me that he was able to get me on a direct flight to Philadelphia.
No layovers! I was ecstatic.
But that wasn’t all. He told me to call my husband at the hotel where we were staying and wake him up: Bennett had actually found two seats on the flight, and my husband would be coming with us.
I was in disbelief. This man went above and beyond to care for me — a total stranger — and my family. His compassion touched me so much that I had to fight back the tears.
As a member of the Faithwire team, I often edit or cover stories about everyday people whose lives are touched by simple acts of kindness. I guess I never thought I’d end up being the subject of one of those stories.
My encounter with Bennett and Jeff reminded me that every single day is full of opportunities to bless others. God cares about the details of our lives, and we’re called to care for others in the same way, to be Christ’s hands and feet and to give what we can without expecting anything in return.
With all the negative news about airlines we see today, it’s refreshing and uplifting to know there are some really wonderful people in the industry.
And my family’s incredible story didn’t end with Bennett. Once we boarded our new American Airlines flight, a flight attendant told us they needed two people to move up to first class and asked if we wouldn’t mind. More leg room and space to nurse my baby? How could we refuse?!
Through that incredible trip, I was reminded that following God’s will is often as simple as being a blessing to someone who needs it. Each day is full of opportunities to love our families, our neighbors and the strangers we encounter. Try to look for those opportunities today. You might change someone’s life.