It’s a well known fact that air travel with little kids can be stressful, especially babies and toddlers. You are in a confined space with limited options and tons of passengers in close proximity to witness/judge your parenting prowess. Of course, some kids are just good on planes and some kids are total nightmares, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with how they are being parented. But, it can certainly feel like that at the time. In these moments, the support and graciousness of those strangers around you can make or break the whole experience.
Over on Mommy Shorts Squad (that’s my favorite Instagram account right now), I asked moms to share stories of kindness from strangers on a plane. Below are a few of my favorite responses. Three cheers to good samaritans! Let us all celebrate them and be them when given the opportunity.
26 Moms Share Stories of Kindness from Strangers on Airplanes
1) “I once flew with a 23mo and an 8mo in my lap. I was sitting next to a teenager listening loudly to heavy metal. Long hair, Metallica shirt. I hesitated before asking him to hold my water bottle while making formula. He quickly said, ‘No problem, I have nieces and nephews.’ Then he helped make my formula for me like a boss.” – Laura
2) “I was on a layover, alone with my 3yo twins and an 18mo in the airport. One twin decides to get on the moving sidewalk and wouldn’t come back. I had to buckle the baby into the stroller, leave our bags, tell Twin #2 not to move, and then sprint down the opposite sidewalk to reach over and grab him by his collar. Then I carried him kicking and screaming back. While I was trying desperately to regroup, he went into full blown meltdown mode and I burst into tears. This lovely man wanders over and starts whistling a little tune. Twin #2 starts giggling. Twin #1 comes around and starts laughing too. Crisis averted. The fact that that this random stranger was able to distract my kids and limit the madness to a few minutes was a bloody miracle.” – Kristen
3) “While in the boarding area with a toddler and a baby, a grandmother told me she could help out because she was certified after having eight grandchildren. Then on the plane, I needed to change my toddler’s diaper and wasn’t sure what to do. Do I put the baby on the bathroom floor while changing the older one? I think the woman was very surprised when I actually sought her out on the plane to hold the baby while I took my other kid to the bathroom. But I have to say, all the older women around her looked very jealous.” – Laura
4) “My two-year-old was an angel the whole five hour plane ride. Until the descent…when he puked milk EVERYWHERE. The poor older guy who was sitting with us was trying to help me clean up. A younger guy behind us offered to help me carry our stuff off the plane. Everyone was very gracious around us telling us stories of their kids doing the same. All the positive energy made my son rally and walk off the plane himself like a champ!” – Trish
5) “I was pregnant and flying to my grandfather’s funeral with my 16-month-old. At the end of the first leg, she puked milk all down my shirt and two gentleman from the flight carried the stroller and car seat from one plane to the next, so we wouldn’t miss our connecting flight. After we boarded (the flight attendant was putting coffee grounds down the aisle because we stunk so bad), a mom of twins opened her bag and gave me a shirt. She said, ‘I have twins at home… I get it.’ It nearly made me cry.” – Megan
6) “It was my first flight with my 14 month-old, who at that point was climbing and running non-stop. I had a carry-on and a diaper bag. While waiting to board, a woman came from the front of the line and said ‘Can I sit by you? If it’s okay, I’ll help with your bags.’ She then switched seats with the stranger next to me and let my son watch Toy Story on her iPad on the flight. She told me she never had kids but always helped when she saw parents traveling because her friends and sisters said it was so intimidating. What a sweetheart.” – Amber
7) “My first international flight with my then 9 month-old had to be turned around because a man started flipping out. When we landed back at JFK, the police came on the plane to take him off. I was sitting on an aisle seat and the woman across the aisle from me in the middle seat looked at me and said, ‘Give me the baby!’ I stared at her blankly and again she said, ‘Give me the baby! They are going to take him out down the aisle and you are on the aisle seat. Give me the baby and he won’t be able to reach her.’ I had not even considered that. I handed this stranger my baby.” – Drevie
8) “Our flight was delayed by over an hour and my 2.5yo just wasn’t going to relax. She kept running away from us because she’s 2.5 years-old and being chill in an airport just wasn’t going to happen. A woman waiting for another flight had a cat in a carrier and brought it over to us so my daughter could sit and pet the cat and not terrorize the concourse. She was so patient and let my daughter pet her very calm cat for almost 30 minutes. She saved my sanity that day. She was so calm and soft spoken that I think my toddler was mimicking her demeanor. When I’m about to go crazy, I try to remember how she spoke to my daughter. It really taught me two lessons: There are kind people out there and learning to still myself in moments of chaos really does work.” – Kris
9) “I once went on a plane ride with my two year-old. She’d always sat on my lap on previous flights, but this time had to sit in her own seat. She didn’t want to do that and freaked out when a flight attendant yelled at her to buckle up. Everything escalated quickly (from both her and the flight attendant) and it was a full blown meltdown. By the time we landed, I was in tears. Not one, but five separate women came up to me after that flight to tell me I was still a good mom and it happens to all of us. I’ll never forget how much I needed to hear that!” – Sara
10) “One time, I was going through security with four kids (two of which were young babies) by myself. Both babies were screaming while I was trying to get their shoes off and electronics out, etc. A wonderful woman came over and started helping me get our stuff up. We got ushered to the other side, because they had to test the baby wipes separately. I thought the woman had gone on to her gate, but she was waiting on the other side with all of our stuff. She put the kids shoes on while I repacked our bags. Tearing up just thinking about how helpful she was and how thankful I was for her kindness. Wherever you are, kind lady in the Atlanta airport that day, I am forever grateful.” – Holly
11) “I was flying home from Congo, 24 weeks pregnant with my 18 month-old on my lap. Not only did an angel switch seats to purposely sit next to us, but she flipped up the armrest and gave up part of her own seat real estate so my daughter could sit between us, and then watched nothing but cartoons on her own screen the whole flight in case my daughter looked over. Oh, and she held her while I puked. So, Celeste, if you’re out there, I’ll never forget you. You made a hard day immeasurably easier.” – Ali
12) “I was flying home from Orlando with my 7 yo, 5 yo and 3 yo. The end of the flight into Atlanta was stormy and turbulent. There was lightening all around the plane. Because the 5 yo was the ornery one, the other two were sitting in the row in front of us. To keep his little sister calm, my oldest had her use a pretend camera to take ‘pictures of the lightening.’ The rows were 10 seats across. Most of the adults were white knuckling. As we were getting off, so many people told me how watching my kids had helped keep them calmer. We landed late, it was past their bedtime, and they had not had dinner. Then I found out that we had to go to nearly the opposite side of the airport for our connection. My older two kids and I had carry-ons and backpacks. Several people offered to help us. I said we were okay. But then two older gentlemen flagged down one of the little carts and insisted that no one in the airport needed it more than we did. In the end, that gave me just enough time to grab the kids food minutes before we boarded. I was so grateful! This happened nearly twenty years ago and I still think of it whenever I travel.” – Peg
13) “I flew as a mom for the first time with my 3-month-old and had a two hour layover. So many people from the plane on the same layover found me to tell me how great of a mom I was for how I was handling my baby; for letting her roll around, stretch out on a blanket, etc. It was so uplifting and helped relieve so much of my stress. Especially since none of those people knew that I was battling PPD, did not want to be traveling with my baby and had been guilted into it by my mom. That trip was so difficult, but the kindness of strangers was honestly the best part.” – Cindy
14) “I was traveling solo with my 5-month-old son. Our second plane got changed and then the gate changed at the last minute. We very nearly missed it. Flying Southwest, the only seats left were middle seats. I was out of breath while also freaking out, concerned I might have to nurse my giant infant wedged inbetween two strangers. I was looking around desperately for seats when two older gentlemen looked at each other and then looked at me. They motioned me to sit between them. One offered to hold my son while the other helped me with my luggage. They then entertained my child the entire flight. They were so wonderful! I will never forget their kindness.” – Edie
15) “On our return flight home one trip, we had a young couple with the two littles sitting in front of us. On the final descent both kids went into full meltdown mode. So my sweet little 5yo turned and asked if she could make silly faces between the seats to help the baby. I, of course, said yes. So she made faces at the baby and I did the same for the toddler. Both were giggling and smiling in no time!” – Erin
16) “We were traveling by train internationally with three kids, four suitcases, a stroller, and a car seat. While my husband was loading the suitcases on the train, I was waiting outside with the kids, the car seat bag and the stroller. Every single person who passed us to get on the train asked if we needed help. Not sure if this is just normal train etiquette in Europe (or everywhere for that matter), but I was shocked!” – Kelly
17) “After our flight to visit family was delayed by two hours, we finally boarded, only to deplane when they canceled the whole flight. Both my kids burst into tears and were inconsolable. It was 10pm, and I had to wait in a long line to get rebooked. I left my kids (8 and 4) in seats at a nearby gate and told them to please just sit tight while I sort this out, but the line wasn’t moving and they were still crying. Then an angel of a woman came and gave them crayons and index cards. She talked to them and distracted them until I could sort out our flight situation. I was crying when I thanked her. She said, ‘it was no problem, I’m a teacher.” – Noura
18) “I was on my first vacation alone with just my three and six-year-old, who were both riding on a plane for the first time. Two flights down, then two flights home. The last leg, we had to literally run to a completely different terminal for the connecting flight, which made me miss the chance to get them dinner. We made it at last call, only to find that they had booked me sitting in another row from my two kids(?!) An hour past bedtime, hungry and now nervous that they’ll be alone, two ANGELS offered to take the two back seats so we could be together. I realized later those two seats didn’t even recline. The flight was terrible. Turbulence, no food or drinks served and it was an old plane, so it was so loud. I remember looking at them when we landed, while trying to hold both my tired kids. I started crying, I was so grateful. I can’t imagine how awful it would have been without their kind gesture.” – Mila
19) “I was flying from Oregon to Virginia when I was 33 weeks pregnant with my youngest. My middle was a lap baby and my oldest was only two. We were flying Southwest and I had to stop to change my youngest’s diaper and use the bathroom on our short layover. I got to the gate just as they were finishing boarding. I got on and the flight was full and there weren’t any seats together. A nice mother and daughter offered to sit apart from each other so I could sit by my oldest. There ended up being major weather in the DC area so we were diverted and ended up sitting on the tarmac. While we were on the ground, the pilot offered to let my kids see the cockpit. Then the mother and daughter offered to take them so I could sit and have a quiet minute. It was the kindest thing. It’s been at least 5 years and I still remember that!” – Erica
20) “We were stuck at O’Hare during the holidays so I decided to take my then 2.5-year-old and 5-year-old for a walk around the terminal. The 2.5yo promptly threw herself in the middle of the concourse and kicked and screamed because she was two. A kind Delta flight attendant walking to her gate stopped and got out some airline cookies for my girls which was just enough to stop the flailing 2yo. I’ll never forget her kindness. She didn’t have to stop, could have just kept walking peacefully to her next assignment BUT she did and that’s the village we all need.” -Kari
21) “When I moved from LA to Hawaii, I had to fly by myself with my 6-month-old and my 8-year-old, and a whole lot of luggage and baby gear. My husband had gone a week earlier with our son to set up the house and the crib for our baby, so I was flying alone. While I was struggling to get all our luggage off the plane, my 6-month-old was screaming and 8-year-old was complaining. This couple behind me could see I badly needed help, so they grabbed all of my luggage and carried it for me all the way through the airport until we got to my husband, just so I could focus on my calming my kids down. It was amazing.” – Kitty
22) “I recently flew solo with my 4-month-old to meet my husband and sons on vacation. My stroller kept sticking trying to open and close it in the airport, and many kind people assisted me in getting it open. One lady even held my baby in the security line while I wrestled the stroller. Then, on the flight out, my daughter started to fuss a little and I nursed her on the plane. The lady behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said she was a doula and had been wondering if I would nurse my baby on the flight and was just so thrilled that I did. She teared up and it made me tear up too!” – Rebecca
23) “We took a late flight home on our first ever vacay with three kids, ages four, three and one (it was the only direct flight) and all three kids fell asleep with 10 minutes before landing. So, of course, they woke up screaming their heads off and having a mass tantrum like we’ve never experienced. This couple carried our bags all the way to baggage claim, so we could each carry them as that was the only way they’d stop streaming. It was the nicest thing and they walked at our pace, which was terribly slow. It was so late and instead of rushing to get home, they just walked with our bags.” – Sam
25) “I flew by myself while 33 weeks pregnant and with my 3yo and 2yo. My 2yo launched into a total meltdown shortly after take off. After many attempts to calm him down, he finally found happiness with a pack of wet wipes. I had him pull all the wet wipes out of the pack, stuff them in a ziplock bag, and then put them back in the wet wipe bag. We must have repeated the process five times on the flight, but it worked and kept him occupied. At baggage claim, a stranger came up to me and said ‘I watched your interactions with your kids. You’re an amazing mom’. It was small act, but it made the exhausted and majorly pregnant mom feel so good.” – Brianne
26) “I was in the airport with my husband, 6-month-old and 3-year-old. We were supposed to be boarding, when one of the kids started to throw a fit. We had so much to carry and I was worried about not getting on the plane during the ‘families with small children’ time because I knew I needed time to install the car seat. Anyway, I was so stressed that I started screaming at my husband. Then this nice lady asked if we needed any help and offered to help carry our bags on. Her act of kindness totally diffused the situation and made us start our trip on a much better foot.” – Amy
Please tell your stories of kindness on a plane in the comments below!
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