Generous Alaska Airlines employee helps Vancouver woman get home

Nadine Kalinauskas
Generous Alaska Airlines employee helps Vancouver woman get home

A Vancouver woman is calling herself an “Alaska Airlines convert” after an employee helped remedy her travel woes.

Miriam Thomas simply wanted to fly from Vancouver to Ontario, California, and back again.

The Vancouver woman was due in Ontario for a work meeting. Her trip, which should have been a relatively straightforward one — from Vancouver to Seattle to California — turned into a long, indirect travel headache.

First, her Delta Airlines flight, scheduled for last Sunday night, was delayed: initially due to weather, then to mechanical issues. Weather didn’t allow the plane to land in Seattle, so it redirected to Portland. Instead of letting passengers get off the plane in Portland, however, the airline decided to turn the plane around. It went back to Seattle where passengers were given hotel vouchers to spend the night.

Thomas made it to California just in time for her work meeting on Monday.

When she went back to the airport to return to Seattle, her return ticket caused Delta some confusion. The airline told her she would be assigned a seat at the gate. The plane was already boarding.

When she reached the gate, however, Thomas was told that her ticket had been cancelled.

“I went back through security, back to the customer service desk and that’s when it started to get crazy,” she told News 1130. “The Alaska Airlines people were trying to figure out why Delta had cancelled my flight, Delta was trying to figure out what had happened. I was just standing at the desk with my bags seriously hoping I can get on some flight that day.”

Thomas soon learned that the airline had used up the rest of the value of her ticket when it gave her a hotel voucher and rescheduled her flight out of Seattle. There was no money left for her to fly home, something she was not warned about.

The best Delta could do to make the situation better was to offer her a ticket for the next day. Without a place to stay for the night, Thomas panicked.

Then an employee with Alaska Airlines named Judy made her a better offer: she offered Thomas her personal travel voucher — and paid for a ticket out of her own pocket.

“She paid for my ticket, she paid for me to get home. She didn’t know me at all. I was sitting up at the gate waiting for the flight and she came by asking me how I was and offered me money for coffee. I was boarding and I thanked her again and she hugged me. It was amazing. She didn’t need to do that at all, she took care of me,” Thomas said.

Thomas wanted to publicly thank Judy for her generosity.

Air-travel stories rarely end up in the “good news” section, but that doesn’t mean some airlines don’t go above and beyond for their passengers.

Last summer, an American Airlines mechanic saved the day when a young veteran twisted his prosthetic knee out of place. Lead aircraft mechanic Keith Duffer was able to fix the broken piece and let Afghanistan war veteran Taylor Morris, who had eight hours of travelling ahead of him, continue on with much-improved mobility.

In the summer of 2013, United Airlines held a flight for a man who was trying to get home to see his dying mother.

And in December 2012, JetBlue helped a mother get home to her children in the wake on the Newtown tragedy. The captain even offered her a ride home when they landed.