Plane travel tends to bring out the worst in us. Checked bag fees, no knee room, and delayed flights can often make a connecting flight feel like an outtake of The Walking Dead. But recently, a mom’s Facebook post reminded us that even in the stressful world that is modern air travel, good still exists — and can go a long way. Last week, Alexa Bjornson shared the story of what happened when her son, Landon, had to fly alone for the first time.
Landon, 7, was flying solo to visit his dad. That is enough to make any mom nervous, but Landon is also a child with high-functioning autism. Having flown with him before, Bjornson was worried Landon would need extra reassurance and patience while flying — and she wouldn’t be there to help. In the past, Bjornson explained on Facebook, Landon has asked “Are we there yet?” a lot on flights. She was hopeful she could find a way to have his seatmate respond to his inevitable questions with kindness rather than irritation.
“I thought, how do I make it so whoever’s sitting next to him won’t look at him as a burden but more of like, I can help this kiddo get through the day,” she told KATU Portland.
Her solution? Send Landon on the plane with $10 and a letter. She certainly didn’t expect what happened next. After the flight, she got a note from Landon’s seatmate, Ben. “I was Landon’s seat neighbor for his flight to Portland,” the note, accompanied by a selfie, read. “He did ask if we were there yet several times but he was a great travel buddy.” Ben added that the two kept each other busy playing rock, paper, scissors — and that he donated the $10 to Autism Society.
Bjornson shared the story on Facebook, where it quickly went viral. To date, there have been over 138,000 shares and 11,000 comments.
“I didn’t think it would spark up a big response. Regardless, we are pretty happy because it opens up the conversation,” Bjornson told Today, who also picked up the story. And while it’s easy to see why the feel-good moment is resonating with people, Bjornson hopes it’s about more than just the warm fuzzies.
“I just hope that it raises awareness that if you see children having a hard time — or not — that just a kind gesture can change the outlook in their lives,” she told the show. It’s a message we can all take to heart the next time any kid, no matter their situation or special needs, is as stressed as we are on a flight.