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Warmest regards: A good deed saves the day

While every single day of my Maine vacation with my family was memorable for all the pleasures it gave us, one part of it was memorable for the wrong reason.

The trip home was a long nightmare, one I hope never to repeat.

My daughter had just spent the week playing tour guide and gourmet chef as she worked nonstop to make our trip memorable.

On our last day there, Andrea had one last herculean task. She had to get up at 3:30 in the morning to drive 90 minutes to get her sister Maria to the Portland airport for her trip back to D.C.

After lunch she had to drive me two hours in a different direction to the Bangor airport for my trip back to Florida. Two different airports in one day is a bit much. But it got worse when we found out my flight was delayed. I told Andrea to leave and get some rest because she had to get up at 4 in the morning for her own trip.

She refused to leave the airport because my flight kept getting delayed. The last update said my flight wouldn’t be there until 1 a.m. She was afraid the flight would be totally canceled, and she didn’t want to leave me stranded in the airport.

I am a confirmed optimist, a trait that normally works well for me. Not this time. I made a bad situation worse by insisting my flight wouldn’t be canceled and would get there that night.

Andrea is far more savvy about what to do in situations like that. She kept saying I should rebook on another airline because Allegiant didn’t have another flight out for two days.

It wasn’t until an airline representative admitted there was a strong likelihood that the flight would be canceled that I finally listened to her.

By then, all the seats on other airlines leaving from that airport were filled.

I had to book a flight early the next morning at a different airport. It meant another 4 a.m. airport trip for Andrea. I don’t know how she stayed sane through all that marathon airport driving.

Like so many other stranded passengers, I was forced to pay an outrageous price for the last-minute booking. Worse yet, the airline representative admitted “it happens all the time.”

All I cared about at that point was getting home.

Unable to get a nonstop trip, my new reservation called for a 90-minute layover in Philadelphia. Oh well, at least I can enjoy breakfast in Philadelphia, I thought.

Wrong again. Because our flight was late in getting in, we were just getting off our plane when my scheduled trip to Florida was leaving.

The flight attendant said they only hold a flight for 10 minutes. The problem was, it wasn’t even leaving from the terminal I was in.

At that point I must have looked like a wild, frantic woman because that’s what I was.

“How am I supposed to get to that terminal in 10 minutes?” I asked an airline attendant.

I while back I wrote about angels. One reader responded to the column by saying she’s learned God sends us a guardian angel when we most need one.

That’s what must have happened, because out of the blue an elegant looking woman came up to me and said, “My husband is a pilot. I know a shortcut to get you to that terminal. I’ll run with you and take you there.”

That’s exactly what she did. It’s been about 10 years since I had to run that far. My heart was racing far too fast as I tried to keep up with her, but she delivered me safely to my gate. Then she took off for her own flight in another terminal.

That stranger definitely saved the day. She went through a lot of effort to help someone she didn’t know. It’s one thing to give someone directions, but she went above and beyond that kind of help. What it did for me was to reinforce the power of a good deed.

I can’t do anything to pay back the helpful stranger. But I can “pass it on” by looking for ways to help others.

From what I saw on the news and heard from friends, I’ve learned my trip that was canceled at the last minute is just one of hundreds of thousands of similar experiences. Some are stranded for days while they try to find new flights. They have little or no recourse except to pay exorbitant prices for any ticket they can get.

Why is this happening? One reason, we’re told, is the pandemic caused a shortage of airline personnel. Yet, airlines were paid billions to keep employees.

All I can say is if you are planning to fly, make sure you have an alternate plan. You may need it.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.