Traveling by air is scary enough for kids without having to do it alone. That’s why Alexa Bjornson was more than a little worried about letting her 7-year-old fly by himself for the first time.
Alexa’s son, Landon, has high-functioning autism, and as such, the Nevada mom wasn’t sure how he’d do on his own during his recent Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Oregon to visit his dad. But he was definitely nervous about boarding the plane solo.
So, Alexa decided to pack an incentive for whoever took the seat next to Landon. She wrote a note explaining he had autism and would likely ask, “Are we there yet?” multiple times throughout the flight. She also included a $10 bill for Landon to give his seatmate for helping to make him feel safe and comfortable.
“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,” Alexa explained.
But as it turns out, the note and cash weren’t necessary — Landon won the seatmate lottery. He ended up sitting next to Ben Pedraza, who immediately hit it off with the little boy. So much, in fact, that Ben snapped a photo of them together at the end of the flight and sent it to Alexa along with a message that immediately calmed her nerves.
“He did ask if we were there yet several times but he was a great travel buddy,” Ben told Alexa, adding he opted to donate the $10 to the Autism Society. “We had a good time and played a few rounds of rock-paper-scissors. He’s a great kid and you’re a lucky mom.”
Touched, Alexa shared the photo and note on Facebook, expressing her gratitude for Ben’s act of kindness. “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,” she wrote.
Thousands saw the post and commended the sweet man as well, though he simply says he had a great time with Landon. In fact, he joked, he was having too much fun at one point. “We were cracking jokes, and after a while, he asked me to quit making dad jokes,” Ben said.
Way to turn an anxiety-filled trip into a fun new experience for a little boy, Ben! We wouldn’t be surprised if Landon looked forward to all his future flights thanks to you.
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