Stranger drives family from Seattle to Vancouver after Air Canada cancels flight
A traveller is touting the kindness of strangers because a woman she’d never met drove her to Vancouver after her flight out of the Seattle airport was cancelled at the last minute.
Chelsea Smith showed up to the Seattle-Tacoma airport at around 3:45 am on August 7 for her 6 am flight along with her husband and three-year-old son. The family was supposed to land in Vancouver in time to catch their Alaska cruise out of the downtown port.
But the Air Canada bag drop kiosk was unstaffed, and the line grew longer as passengers for later flights joined the queue.
“We’ve been at the Seattle airport since 3 am, and it is now 6 am… Our flight leaves right now, and nobody is at the gate desk,” Smith said in a video posted to TikTok. “Can someone important tag Air Canada and get them to send somebody to take our bags so we can get on our flight?”
@okjust1more #aircanada where you at!? #seattleairport @Air Canada ♬ original sound – Chelsea Smith
Right at 6 am, Smith got notice that Air Canada cancelled her flight.
“The lineup at the airport was just all the way down the aisle. There were just hundreds of people waiting… they just cancelled everybody’s flight,” she told Daily Hive Urbanized via email.
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Air Canada offered to rebook Smith on the 4 pm flight that day, but she needed to be in Vancouver by noon to get on her cruise.
An Air Canada spokesperson told Daily Hive Urbanized its flights out of Seattle are handled by a third-party service provider. The Smiths’ flight was cancelled due to the provider’s staffing constraints, but Air Canada said all passengers were rebooked on flights within 24 hours.
“Generally speaking, passengers departing on cruises should plan to arrive the day prior to their cruise to minimize unforeseen travel circumstances,” the airline said.
It wasn’t Smith’s intention to cut it so close and fly the same day, but the family missed their rental car reservation when they showed up at 4:15 pm the previous day and the Budget Rent a Car shop was closed. Someone had scribbled over the 5 pm closing sign to write 4 pm.
A generous stranger saves the day
After all the drama at the Seattle airport, a woman Smith didn’t know offered to drive the family three hours north to Vancouver to catch their sailing.
Anh “Annie” Nguyen was at the airport that morning to drop off her mother, and met Smith in the airport lineup. When notice finally came that the 6 am flight was cancelled, Nguyen offered to drive the family.
“She had no reason to be in Vancouver, and during the drive she told us she had to drive another three hours to be on the other side of Washington for work that evening,” Smith said.
Nevertheless, Nguyen loaded the family into her car and drove them across the border. They got aboard the cruise ship in plenty of time.
“It was just something I could do to make one’s vacation plan go smoothly, even though nothing usually goes as planned in most cases,” Nguyen told Daily Hive Urbanized over email.
Nguyen said the Smiths’ cruise was for their parents’ 50th anniversary — and she knew it was important for them to get there.
“I was truly glad I was able to offer them a ride, and it was a pleasure getting to know the family during the drive.”
@okjust1more @aircanada never again…Annie Nguyen, If you see this, you are an angel and we cannot thank you enough!! #cruise #aircanada ♬ Stranger Things – Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
Nguyen lives in Seattle and the Smith family lives in San Diego, but they hope to meet again in the future if they’re ever in the same city.
Smith said the ordeal taught her to be extra cautious when travelling, and that people can be surprisingly generous.
“I’d like to say thank you to Annie. It goes to show there are still very kind, selfless people in this world… She took five hours out of her day to help random strangers in a tough situation. She even refused to take money from us.”