It’s never as good as the first time… unless it’s someone else’s first time.

You know the feeling of something new: your pulse races… your adrenaline picks up… you are nervous and excited all at the same time.

Well, that happened.

My colleague and good friend and I were on our way back from Miami after a fantastic conference. When I got to my seat on the plane, I noticed a woman clutching the arm rest and clearly nervous. I said, “Hi! How’s it going?”

“Not so well,” she responded. “It’s my first flight. Ever.”

And she was flying alone.

I’ve been on planes since I was a baby – flying alone since I was a kid – so planes are not a new thing by any means.

I don’t even remember my first flight, or even the first flight alone. So, to experience it through someone else was fun. And honestly, I thought, “If she was my mom, I’d want a stranger to take care of her.”

So, we did.

The thing I love about traveling is new experiences and new people – hearing their story, about their passions and cultures. People tend to open up more than in every day interactions. It’s a different kind of connection.

We realized, the night before, we ate at the exact same restaurant – only a few tables away from each other. We talked about our kids – she had been visiting her son and was headed back home. We gave her all the background on what to expect – takeoff, landing and turbulence… thankfully my friend trained to be a flight attendant before opting for PR.

 

The entire experience was unforgettable. The crew celebrated her first flight by sending out wine, and checked on her throughout the trip. Side note: I’ve flown with a lot of crews, on a lot of airlines, but this American Airlines flight crew was by far the best.

If you ever travel, I encourage you to connect with someone you don’t know. Be genuine and let them in. Life is too short to put on headphones and bury your nose in a book. And while I welcome quiet moments (after all, I’m all for dining alone), welcome new friends too.

At the end, she mentioned that she would remember the flight for the rest of her life.

The truth is – we will too.

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