Travel nurse Antoinette Smith, her husband and 6-year-old grandson found themselves stranded at San Francisco International Airport on Christmas Eve, staring down the likelihood of sleeping on the airport floor for the next few nights. Then a complete stranger stepped in to save the day.
After learning about the family’s predicament on social media, the stranger, who wished to remain anonymous, booked a hotel for the family, took them grocery shopping and even surprised the boy with a Christmas gift.
“Thank you!” Smith told the stranger as they shared an embrace Saturday night. “Got something to do now.”
Before being treated to the random act of kindness, Smith and her family members found themselves sitting at the airport with nowhere to go. They were scheduled to fly home to Atlanta on Saturday, but flight cancellations ruined their plans.
“I’m trying to get home to my family, and I can’t do that until Wednesday,” Smith told NBC Bay Area Saturday afternoon. “So, I have no idea what we’re gonna do.”
Smith said they arrived at SFO at 8 a.m. Saturday with tickets for a Southwest Airlines flight from San Francisco to Atlanta via a stop in San Diego. Smith previously adjusted their flights in hopes of dodging the delays and cancellations caused by a massive winter storm gripping much of the nation.
Smith said their flights ended up getting delayed several times and ultimately canceled. Smith said she waited in line for two hours to speak with representatives at the Southwest ticket counter. When she finally was able to speak with a representative, Smith said she was told because she was traveling with three people, the earliest flights they could rebook to Atlanta were on Dec. 28. Smith also said she was told she wouldn’t receive a voucher for food or a hotel.
“All they told me was they’re sorry,” Smith said of the Southwest agents. “That’s not gonna help me because we’re gonna sleep on your floor tonight. We’ll probably be here for three days.”
Smith said she couldn’t afford a hotel and that she didn’t know anyone in the Bay Area who she could stay with. Plus, she was growing worried that the ice keeping her insulin cold was melting after a full day of waiting in the airport. Smith had been working in the Bay Area since September and had three month’s worth of belongings with her in the airport.
Thanks to the stranger’s generosity, her family wouldn’t have to spend time sleeping on the floor at the airport after all.
Southwest Airlines replied to NBC Bay Area’s request for comment Sunday, saying, “We apologize to all of our Customers who have been disrupted from Winter Storm Elliott’s effects on our operation over the past few days. We are optimistic with the better forecast that things will begin to improve soon.”