Lifestyle & Human Interest

Stranger Comforts 96-Year-Old Woman During Turbulent Southwest Airlines Flight


Although many of us have gotten used to air travel, it’s still a novelty for some.

The fact that we can travel in a winged metal tube at crazy speeds and cruise through the clouds is truly a miracle, something people of the past could only imagine.

Turbulence is a less-than-enjoyable part of flight that can leave even veteran flyers unsettled, but for others it’s beyond terrifying.

For 96-year-old Virginia, a Southwest flight to Nashville was a necessary evil. She was going to visit family for her birthday, but the elderly woman hadn’t set foot on a plane for over a decade. Understandably nervous, she turned to a stranger for comfort, and a woman nearby caught the heartwarming interaction on video.

“She kind of caught my attention because she just reminds me so much of my grandmother who I had recently lost in the fall,” Megan Schofield told TODAY.

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But it was a Facebook post Schofield created that initially drew the internet’s attention, going viral and touching hearts around the world as it popped up in feeds.

“On my flight from San Diego to Nashville today, sitting in the row next to me was a 96 year old woman who hasn’t flown in 15 years,” Schofield wrote.

“For her birthday she wanted to go to Kansas City to see her family but she was scared of flying. She asked for this man’s hand during takeoff and then hugged him again when experiencing turbulence. This gentleman I should say, gladly took her hand, let her hold onto him, calmed her by talking to her and explaining everything that was happening, and simply was that stranger there for her. He knew just what to do the entire flight to help.”

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The kind stranger helped Virginia get up to use the restroom and kept a watchful eye on her while she walked. He helped her with any little thing he could, and even made sure to stick by her side when she got separated from her daughter.

“This man was her flight angel. He held her bag, helped her get off the plane and into the wheelchair, and when she got confused wondering where her daughter went (she called her her sister), he stayed with her until she caught up with her daughter who got separated from her.

“I walked away sobbing happy tears being so thankful for people like this wonderful human,” Schofield concluded. “She was so grateful that she wanted him to have her flight pretzels. Hats off to you sir, for your kind heart and your compassion toward someone whom you’ve never met. I have never been so touched on a flight before. This truly made my week.”

Ben Miller, the man who’d been Virginia’s flight angel, was surprised when the story made its rounds and people began reaching out to him.

“It’s pretty surreal,” he told TODAY. “I don’t even know that I necessarily appreciate it. I’m not a Facebook person myself. And so it was pretty wild.

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“I was traveling alone, I didn’t know anybody on the plane. You certainly don’t think anybody is paying attention to you. So to get a text from somebody a few days later after the flight saying, ‘Hey, is this you?’ It’s crazy.”

The modest father and husband shook off the praise, saying his actions weren’t really all that unusual.

“To see what it’s done in terms of taking off, I think Megan really gets the credit for that because I think the interaction that I had with Virginia was maybe somewhat unique, but I’d like to think that it wasn’t all that uncommon,” he said.

Southwest Airlines told The Western Journal it was proud of Miller’s behavior.

“Civility is important to us at Southwest Airlines, and we are thrilled our Customers put it into practice onboard each day,” Brian with the Southwest Airlines Media Team said. “We have the best Customers in the world, and we are constantly amazed by how they treat our Southwest Team and each other.”

As for Schofield, she’s using this opportunity to encourage readers to take time to notice the people around them.

“We’re just so rush, rush, rush to get from A to B,” she said. “Slow down and look around and see where you can be helpful.”

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