A stranger became a hero on an international flight this past Thursday when he stepped in to help a distressed mother on her first ever flight with her kids.
32-year mother Joanna Sparks and her two daughters were traveling to visit relatives in Sydney who were yet to meet their four-month old niece Olivia. Joanna’s husband had meant to be with them but was called into a last minute work emergency which meant he was unable to fly on the tickets he had pre-booked with the family.
“So my first flights with an infant and a toddler started out with a little panic when we boarded the plane," says Joanna. "My 4-month-old was screaming her head off because, due to a series of unexpected events, I was unable to nurse her before boarding the plane" she continued.
“My 3-year old, who was excited before boarding the plane, lost her nerve and began screaming and kicking ‘I want to get off the plane! I don’t want to go!’ I honestly thought we’d get kicked off the plane. So with two kids losing their minds, I was desperately trying to calm the situation.”
After the plane took off the kids had calmed down a little but some fellow passengers were clearly not impressed. Joanna heard one woman two aisles back complain and ask a flight attendant to move seats so she could escape the disturbance. At this point, Joanna's emotions had started to get the better of her and she began to break down into a flood of tears.
But her troubles were not going unnoticed by everybody that day and 52-year old stranger Michael Parsons who had watched Joanna's troubles unravel from the adjacent aisle of the cabin was about to become an unlikely hero. He raised his hand, flagged down a flight attendant and began to offer a suggestion...
“I couldn’t hear his conversation but I could see that this man was motioning towards us whilst speaking to the attendant,” says Joanna. “I was getting more and more nervous and upset thinking more people were complaining, but then the flight attendant came over and spoke to me.
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"The attendant told me that Business Class was very empty on this flight and the man had offered to pay to upgrade us all. I was shellshocked and although I protested at first at burdening him with the cost of upgrading our tickets, he insisted that I accept his offer and then proceeded to help us move all our stuff out of Economy and into our new seats."
“As soon as we go there this man reached for the baby and held her while I forced a seatbelt on my 3-year old Jessica, got her tablet and started her movie whilst the flight crew began bringing out lots of snacks. Once she was settled and relatively calm in a new less crowded environment, he distracted her so that I could feed Olivia.”
“Finally the kids seemed happy and the plane was quiet again. During the flight, he coloured and watched a movie with Jessica, he engaged in conversation and showed her all the things outside. He even helped us get off the plane and led us to the baggage carousel with Jessica in hand. It was amazing."
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