Flying can make even the most experienced traveler anxious. No matter how many flights you take, there’s always a little voice in the back of your head reminding you of all the things that can go wrong.
Imagine not flying for 15 years and then having to board a plane. For one elderly woman, this was her reality and although her daughter was flying with her, they were seated apart from one another. Wracked with anxiety, the 96-year-old woman did not know how she’d make it through the flight. Fortunately, her seatmate noticed her nervousness and provided some much-needed comfort.
The story blew up after Megan Schofield posted about it on Facebook. She was seated across the aisle from them but quickly realized something beautiful was taking place.
The 96-year-old woman was flying from San Diego to Nashville for her birthday. She and her daughter would then drive from there to Kansas City for her special day. Her name is Virginia and her seatmate’s name is Ben Miller. Ben held Virginia’s hand for the duration of the flight and talked her through it. It was just what Virginia needed.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned air traveler or taking your first flight, air travel is extremely stressful and can easily fray your nerves. Flying is unpredictable and delays, choppy air, and rough landings are all part of the experience.
When Virginia and her daughter decided to make the trip for her birthday, they knew that Virginia would have some reservations about flying for the first time in 15 years. Although they tried to book seats together, they inevitably were separated for the entire flight.
A woman on the flight, watching from across the aisle, noticed a visibly shaken Virginia. To her surprise, the young man next to the nervous woman took her hand.
The woman across the aisle, Megan shared the story on Facebook. “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. For her birthday she wanted to go to Kansas City to see her family but she was scared of flying,” Megan Schofield posted.
The woman’s seatmate was Ben Miller, a man who offered her comfort on the flight. “She asked for this man’s hand during takeoff and then hugged him again when experiencing turbulence,” Megan explained.
Megan continued, “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,” she wrote. “He knew just what to do the entire flight to help.”
Ben helped Virginia around the cabin of the plane as well. “He helped her stand up to go to the restroom and watched her carefully walk down the aisle. It made me smile the whole flight as he comforted her.”
Even after the flight had landed, Ben continued to help Virginia. “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,” Megan shared.
Megan decided to share what she’d seen because it moved her deeply. “I walked away sobbing happy tears being so thankful for people like this wonderful human. She was so grateful that she wanted him to have her flight pretzels. ????.”
Megan gushed about Ben’s willingness to help a stranger in need. “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.”
Megan’s story touched many people as it was shared across social media. Random acts of kindness can have a huge impact, not just on those directly affected, but also those who witness that generosity.
Ben’s behavior inspired others to share how the kindness of strangers had touched them. Many people shared similar stories and brought light into their lives.
Megan’s posts blew up so much that Ben Miller’s family got wind of it. Miller, a lawyer who specializes in nursing home neglect, told Today: “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.”
“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,” Ben added.
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