Passenger Going to Funeral Cries When Poster of Grandma Must Go Under Plane, So Pilot Steps In


Kathryn was traveling on May 10 to attend her grandmother’s funeral and carried with her one of her favorite pictures of her grandmother.

“To me, this picture shows the essence of my grandmother’s nature: Gratitude,” she wrote to Frank Somerville in a message about the kindness that was shown to her by the crew members of Alaska Airlines Flight 1176.

Her grandmother’s name was Concetta Immacolata Mongiardo and she died on May 8 at the age of 103. She was her grandaughter’s “light of (her) life.”

In order to protect the poster of her grandmother during her flight, Kathryn wrapped it in cardboard, but when she got to the gate, she was told that “it would have to go in the cargo hold with all the regular baggage.”

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Kathryn started to cry, worried about the picture being ruined and explained the situation to the women at the gate.

“The gate agent, Lourdes Pedemonte, started to cry with me, and then she assured me that Nan wouldn’t have to fly in the cargo hold,” Kathryn recounted. After a short while, the gate agent told her that the pilots would keep Nan with them in the cockpit.

When Kathryn boarded the plane, she was greeted by flight attendant Pam Keck who said, “you must be the woman with some precious cargo.”

She smiled and handed over the picture of her grandmother.

“The cockpit door was open, and when Ms. Keck handed Nan over to the pilots, they both made eye contact with me and told me not to worry, that they would take good care of Nan as we traveled across the country.”

When the plane landed, Ms. Keck had the picture of Nan waiting for Kathryn. After thanking the flight attendant, Kathryn asked her to thank the pilots as well.

“She said, ‘you can thank them yourself, there they are,’ So I looked them both in the eye, and, with my hand over my heart, thanked them for taking care of Nan.”

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“They both said, ‘it was an honor’ and offered their condolences.”

As Somerville said in his post accompanying the story, “It’s easy to get disillusioned these days. But believe me there’s a lot of good out there.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith