Last updated: 03:43 PM ET, Tue March 24 2015

Alaska Airlines Employee Pays It Forward

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | March 24, 2015

Alaska Airlines Employee Pays It Forward

Here’s the kind of heartwarming story you don’t often hear in the airline industry.

An Alaska Airlines employee recently figured out a way to help a stranded passenger who was stuck in Ontario, Calif., and desperately trying to get back home to Vancouver.

The employee paid for the ticket herself with her own credit card.

The Alaska Airlines worker, known only as Judy, told the woman to simply “pay it forward” as a way of saying thank you.

Needless to say, the passenger, Miriam Thomas, was stunned.

“It was amazing,” Thomas told in Vancouver.

Thomas flew Delta Air Lines from Vancouver, through Seattle, to California. That initial flight suffered a mechanical delay, made a stop in Portland, Oregon, was able to continue on to Seattle but not to Ontario, Calif. The airline put the passengers up in a hotel and flew them out the next morning, but that appeared to be part of the problem when Thomas tried to return home.

After a mad rush through security, Thomas got to the gate only to find the doors had closed and her ticket had been cancelled.

 “When they had the mechanical maintenance and we ended up in Seattle and had to spend the night in a hotel there, they used the rest of the value of my entire ticket on that rescheduled flight that morning so there was no more money for me to fly home,” she told “They didn’t tell me that.”

Delta at first told her they could fly her out the next day; the airline then found her a flight later that night but Thomas still distraught as she was discussing the situation with both Delta and Alaska Airlines employees. The two have a codesharing agreement.

Judy then offered to book Thomas on a flight that morning using a voucher that let her fly stand-by. But as the gate agent began filling out the paperwork, Thomas could hear the woman’s co-workers say, “Judy, Judy, you don’t have to do that.”

Thomas asked what was wrong and another gate agent said, “Judy is paying out of her pocket to make sure you get a seat on this flight.”

Thomas immediately said she didn’t want Judy to do that, but the gate agent told her, “That’s OK. You pay it forward too. When you get home, you buy someone a coffee. Take your mom for a coffee.”

“I was boarding and I thanked her again and she hugged me,” Thomas said. “It was amazing. She didn’t need to do that at all, she took care of me.”

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