Sending your seven-year-old to travel alone on an airplane can be a nerve-wracking experience for any parent, but when you add autism to the equation, it makes the situation that much more frightening.
Between the loud hustle and bustle of airports and the not-so-courteous strangers often awaiting in the seats next to them, flying alone can be overstimulating and downright terrifying for a child with special needs.
Knowing this all too well, Alexa Bjornson wanted to make sure that her son Landon was fully equipped to make his first solo trip to visit his father in Portland. She knew that her son with high-functioning autism may have a hard time on the flight and be overly inquisitive about the destination time.
Alexa decided to give Landon a note and $10 to pass along to his seatmate to pay for his/her presumed troubles in dealing with Landon’s nervous questions throughout the duration of the flight.
“Today my son took his first flight to Oregon to see his dad,” she wrote on Facebook. “I sent Landon with a letter to give to whoever sat next to me saying he has high functioning autism so he might be nervous and ask you ‘are we there yet’ a lot, and please just make him feel safe and comfortable, with 10 dollars in the note.”
“I was feeling anxious and [Landon] was super excited to get to his dad and cousins,” Alexa told Bored Panda. “I was more worried about missing him than how HE would do on the plane. That was probably his 5th or 6th flight so he knows what to do and how to act. I was just worried about him being ‘annoying’ to his seat partner.”
“This year we had a newborn baby, and funds were too low for me to fly 3 of us there and then 2 of us back,” she added. “Landon was also having some bullying issues so we just wanted him to be able to enjoy the rest of his summer!”
What the nervous mother didn’t expect was the response she got from the beautiful stranger that God planted by Landon on that Portland-bound flight that day.
“This is what I just received…” she shared before posting the note written by her son’s seat neighbor, Ben:
My name is Ben. I was Landon’s seat neighbor for his flight to Portland. He did ask if we were there yet several times, but he was a great travel buddy. We had a great time and played several rounds of Rock-Paper-Scissors. He’s a great kid and you’re a lucky mom.
I appreciate the $10 but it wasn’t necessary. I donated it to the Autism Society in honor of Landon.
Have a great day!’”
Overwhelmed and heart-warmed by the gracious response, Alexa shouted her praises for the man who made her son feel at home at 40,000 feet in the sky.
“I am so grateful to this individual, and that there are still kind people in the world who make a difference like I try myself to do as well,” wrote Alexa. “Thank you so much Ben!”
Her post quickly ignited a viral storm of response and has now been shared on Facebook over 137,000 times by others inspired by the feel-good story that took flight.
“This is truly refreshing as we all are in desperate need for genuine good news,” wrote Facebook user Juanita Garcia Lopez.
“Oh my. This made me cry. Thank you God for the good human beings you put on earth,” added another commenter. “Good to know that good people still exist.”
As for Alexa, the emotional mama is still soaking up the overwhelmingly positive impact that Landon and Ben’s story has made far and wide:
“I am beyond emotional about the affect our post has already made,” she wrote. “Thank you so much to all of you who took the time to share and comment on Landon’s solo flight yesterday and Ben, the kind man who helped him get through the flight. I would love to get this out there so in the future maybe passengers will start keeping an eye out for these children to help them on their flights and to show them compassion and a helping hand. Thank you everyone, whoever has reached out, shared, commented, or even just showed your own friends and family, your heart is showing for sure.”