Airlines often have to provide replacement flights or change bookings. However, Alaska Airlines was recently in the unique position of helping a passenger with a car. On a fishing trip in August, a passenger of the carrier wished to fulfill a 25-year old dream of visiting his beloved grandfather’s final resting place. When he found out shortly before his flight that the departure time had been brought forward, he resigned himself to the fact that 25 years of dreaming would have to wait another year. That is until one Alaska Airlines agent came to the rescue.
Ian McClure from Portland, Oregan, regularly took fishing trips to Alaska with his friends. This year was supposed to be different. The group decided to change the location slightly and head to Sitka, located on an island just off the coast of Alaska. Sitka is the final resting place of McClure’s grandfather, a veteran in World War Two. Donald Pomeroy Blacketer settled in Alaska after the war, where he took his grandson on fishing trips.
This was to be McClure’s first chance to pay his respects since his grandfather passed away 25 years ago. However, the plan was thrown into turmoil when McClure and his friends received a message saying the return flight had been pulled forward by an hour. The group arrived at the airport with one final hope; McClure could taxi to Sitka National Cemetery while the fish boxes were checked before departure.
What might have been an excellent plan B turned out to be flawed when an Alaskan Airlines ticket agent pointed out that the small taxi service would not be able to get him there and back in time for his flight. Resigned to the inevitable conclusion, McClure was preparing to accept that this was not going to be his chance to pay respects to his grandfather.
Alaska Airlines to the rescue
However, the Alaskan Airlines ticket agent turned out to be Elaine O’Neill, McClure’s saving grace. Upon learning why he wanted to leave the airport, according to the Alaska Airlines blog post, O’Neill said, “Do you guys want to borrow my car?” and handed over her keys to a man she met just five minutes before. Afterward, she said, “He filled my heart with his story.” She continued to say that “Here at the Sitka station, we are all so happy to help anyone in need. If anyone is stranded, I never think twice to help. I just say one day someone will help me or my family……just want to pay it forward.”
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McClure was able to take O’Neill’s Subaru to the cemetery and return in time for his flight. McClue was so touched by O’Neill’s kindness that he wrote to Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden as well as posting the adventure on his Facebook page. He later wrote, “I didn’t have the words to adequately express my appreciation. My face was covered with a mask; I hope that my eyes said enough.”
McClue returned from his Alaskan adventure with more than just fish. He returned home, having paid his respects to his grandfather as well as photos of the graves of other veterans for their families. He also returned O’Neill’s car to her with a full tank of gas.
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