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Challenge: Traveling with Kids

Dear American Airlines

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As a mama who has flown with small children dozens of times on your airline, I can honestly say the kindness you gifted us today went above and beyond. I shall share my tale because the good in our world is too often swallowed by the not so good. Not by me.

Recently, my four children and I made our way to Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). Flying alone with my pack is not for the faint of heart, though I was gifted with the realization that the ease of one's journey has much to do with the kindness encountered. This mama and her four children, the youngest with special needs, was shown gentleness and warmth at every turn. It really matters. Did you know that? I never knew that.

I had decided to drop off our luggage outside, before parking, so as to avoid hauling it on and off the shuttle bus. Your smiling agent waiting on the curb, seemingly just for me, whisked my bags away and encouraged me to wait in the warm car as he did all things necessary. Within minutes he returned to hand me my license and five boarding passes. Merry Christmas, he said. Kindness.

Once we finally made our way inside, kindness again. Please come this way, no need to wait in the long line. This one is for priority customers. Our precious Amos, still in his footy pajamas so often makes things tougher, but not with your airline. My older children were enchanted with this preferred treatment and so was I. Nothing seemed to be a problem. Today, I needed nothing to be a problem.

We made our way to the gate and though we weren't first class customers, much to my daughter's dismay, we were ushered forward. Yes, smiling gate agents beckoned my motley crew to the front of the line, spattered with ketchup and Amos, still in those feety pajamas with his right big toe peeking out now. Early boarding meant plenty of time to get little people settled and comfortable.

This new plane had individual screens with movies and games and we were all given head phones, no need to pay, the gentle eyes spoke. Before I knew it, another jovial flight attendant had gotten ahold of my phone and was snapping pictures, a kind gesture recognized by a mother that is too often absent in the snapshot. Michele with her kind eyes and Frank with his necklace of blinking lights, reminded us that people really do care about families like my own.

"They think we're important, Mom. Amos is important."

Thank you, American. Before, during and after flight 1266 today, you made a mother and four children feel awfully special. What a gift.

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