A Little Girl Shows Us How to Brighten Each Other’s Day on a Plane

When I get on a plane I will nod and smile, if someone nods and smiles at me. I’m usually all business. I get to my row, stow my bag, sit down — and work until boarding finishes.

I’m a “speak only if spoke to” kind of guy on a plane. I’ll never strike up a conversation unless I see someone in distress (“can I help you put your bag in the overhead?” “I overheard you’re worried about your connection…”).

We’re all trapped together in a metal tube. Flying has become an increasingly small-d democratic experience. Planes are full. Tensions can run high as our different habits, speech, and even odors intrude onto our neighbors. Add a too hot cabin or a flight delay? Someone with their own emotional baggage to bring on board (airlines haven’t figured out a way to charge for that yet) and we can rub each other raw.

And yet it’s still possible, if we put down our guard, to be a little bit friendly and human towards each other which is why I loved this story posted to LinkedIn:

I was on a commercial flight recently and there was a little girl boarding the aircraft (slowly) ahead of me with her mom. I noticed that as she moved down the cabin, people were laughing and talking to each other.

I listened a little closer and realized she was asking each row of passengers, “Are you going to get married?” She must’ve been on her way to a wedding, but the responses she was getting were beyond funny. I heard answers like, “Never again”, “Been there, tried that”, “I’m already married”, “Not yet…” and “No way”!

She made people blush, laugh and talk to each other. Since she was seated towards the back of the airplane, she changed the mood of an entire cabin full of weary travelers with a not so simple question. Never underestimate the power of one little girl…

It’s not the first time a young girl has shown us the way that small interactions can make all the difference to the people we touch on our travels.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Reminds me of an experience I had a few years ago: Seated in F in a Republic Q400 (and of course, being Republic, it was running late), a little girl, maybe four years old came on in front of her mother. She was clutching her boarding pass and saying oh-so-politely to the man in row one “Look, sir, I got my own ticket! I’ve wanted one of these for so very long. And isn’t this a beautiful plane! So big and pretty.”

    I could hear her as she went down the aisle, “Look, sir….”, “Look, ma’am….” And I turned around and there were lots of smiles on most of the faces.

  2. We took a moonlight skilift ride a few winters ago with our daughter, she must have been 6 at the time. As we’d pass a chair going the other direction she’d say ‘kiss her, kiss her’ to the group. It brought a chuckle and usually a kiss…one chair the girl replied, he’s my brother. But smiles all around.

  3. I had to read this story before getting to the depressing post about AAdvantage changes.

    Drink. One benefit of PDBs is attitude adjustment.

  4. Great story. BTW, that photo is not of the little girl. It is clearly a professionally lit stock photo.

  5. Years ago, hubby, his mother and his 4 year old niece travelled with him to QLD (Aust) for a conference on a (now collapsed) Ansett flight. Niece had not been on a plane before, so she was super excited. Hubby said as soon as they got into their seats, niece asked loudly “when are you going to blast off?” Everyone in the vicinity had a good laugh. (I was on a different flight as I was working for the other domestic duopology – Australian airlines (later bought by Qantas))

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