We’ve all been raised to respect our elders — remember how we were all taught to give up our seats on the bus or subway? But would you give up a first-class seat on a flight to an elderly passenger?
That’s just what Novato, California, resident Rebecca Kuchar Krutz witnessed on aNovember 26 flight from Jacksonville, Florida, to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. But it wasn’t just a regular Good Samaritan who gave up his seat for an ailing fellow traveler…
Rebecca says that prior to boarding, she heard a commotion in the terminal and watched as passengers and airline crew gathered around to have their pictures taken with someone who looked somewhat familiar.
It turned out to be Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines.
During all the commotion in the terminal, Rebecca watched as he drifted away from the crowd to speak with an elderly woman, who Rebecca guessed was in her 80s or 90s.
Now, as head of a major airline, Oscar has spent a fair amount of time flying first class, so giving up his seat during a flight isn’t too much of a sacrifice. But he didn’t just scooch over or move to another first-class seat; the November 26 flight was booked solid.
When the passengers boarded, Rebecca went to her seat in first class and noticed that same elderly woman seated in the row directly ahead of her. Then Oscar boarded. She expected him to take a nearby seat… but was shocked to see him continue down the aisle, on into the economy section.
After the flight landed, she wrote about the incident on Facebook, praising Oscar for giving up his seat to a nervous, elderly stranger “because he thought she’d be more comfortable there.”
Later, in an interview with SFGate, she expanded on that post, saying Oscar’s actions exemplify what it means to respect our elders and praising him for showing kindness to a stranger who he’d probably never see again.
I was brought up in a house where we were taught to respect our elders. I have a grandmother in her 90’s and if she walks into a room where family is seated, we rise and offer her the most comfortable seat.
We do this out of love and respect as she is the matriarch of our family and we feel she deserves to be treated this way. You did this exact thing; only for a woman you’d never met before, and likely will never cross paths with again. Thank you for extending such kindness and respect to an elderly passenger.
While it may have been a small gesture for you, I can assure you it meant a great deal to her, and though I don’t know her, it meant a great deal to me as well.
If even half of the people on this earth could behave in such a way, the world would be a much better place.
Hats off to Oscar for leading by example. Not everyone can afford to give up a first-class seat to an elderly woman, but we can all find ways in our day-to-day lives to make things easier on them, even if it’s offering to carry groceries or shovel snow.
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