The Last Goodbye
“I worked at a very small regional airport so I dealt with passengers from check-in to boarding. Often the passengers and their families would stay together all the way up until boarding.
An elderly gentleman was dropping off his son who had flown in from overseas where he lived for a visit. It was just the three of us in the terminal at the time, and after check-in, the dad looked at his son and said ‘I have to go before I lose it,’ and he hugged his son, shook his hand, and left. His son stood looking out the window to the tarmac and I could see he was getting a little upset.
It was just us, so I walked over and asked if he was okay, he started crying and said, ‘this is probably the last time I am going to see my dad.’ He then told me his dad was terminally ill with cancer and he had to return to his job overseas. All I could do was hug the guy and cry with him; it was very upsetting to me, even as a stranger.”
Just A Few Minutes
“I worked as an airport employee for a while. One of my duties was to accompany minors who were flying alone. Well, there was this tiny boy, 10 at the time, who I had to meet after his check-in. His mom checked him in, she saw me waiting, then she said, ‘Can you give me a few minutes to say goodbye?’ I said sure, stepped aside, and then she knelt so she could look the boy in the eye. She brought him to me after a few minutes, so I walked with the boy towards the gate. He looked sad, so I made small talk and asked him where he was going and if he was meeting someone there.
Apparently, his parents were separated and his mom was sending him to his dad because she couldn’t afford to feed him adequately or send him to school. She also couldn’t afford a round-trip plane ticket to go with him, which was why the kid was flying alone. He said he was never going to see his mom again because he was sure his dad wouldn’t allow him to.
As a child of a bad divorce myself, his story broke my heart.”
Special Assistance For “Jim Wilson”
“I worked at the Barcelona airport for a few years. A couple with a two-year-old baby came to Barcelona to visit her family. She was Spanish, while he was British. It broke my heart when we at the sales desk realized there was a ‘Jim Wilson’ who requested special assistance was on the flight. ‘Jim Wilson’ is airline carrier code for a corpse being transported back home. The dead body was the two-year-old baby who apparently collapsed for unknown reasons, and now was being sent back to England.
There were over 30 people, all family of hers in the airport, saying goodbye to the little coffin. I never saw more lost people than the mother and grandmother. It was so shocking that many of our co-workers had to take a break for several minutes as they could not stop crying.
Now I’m a father of a nine-month baby girl and I’m just crying remembering this.
I hope that family found a way to deal with the pain.”
“I was dropping off my long distance boyfriend at the time and I thought I was sad until I saw this other goodbye. It looked like an exchange student was saying goodbye to his exchange family and leaving the country.
I eavesdropped a little bit and heard him tell his exchange mom that he was really grateful that they housed him and gave him this great opportunity to study in the United States. The mom grabbed him and just hugged the crap out of him while crying the entire time. I just felt so sad for them. It looked like he had really made a place for himself in their family and it was as if the mom was saying goodbye to, not just one of her own kids, but to one that she would most likely never see again. I hope they at least stayed in contact with one another!”
By His Side Until The End
“I used to be a wheelchair attendant for an international airport.
I was assisting a gentleman to get into a wheelchair and his wife was explaining to him it would only be for a few weeks and that everything would be okay. The man starts crying, saying he doesn’t want to to be far away and that he’s concerned about his visit back home. She consoled him and asked me to make sure he got to the gate without any trouble. I gave my word that I would. So as we’re going through security, I begin talking to him and I found out why he was so upset.
This guy was a Scottish World War II veteran and he was going back home for the first time since leaving for the war. He began to tell me his life story, how he lost his older and younger brother during Dunkirk because the British army required the Scottish military members to hold back the Nazis while the British troops escaped. He told me how he got injured in combat and was treated by an American medic who later became his wife. He told me of his jobs after the war, about his children, about his grandchildren, and how he has a great-grandchild on the way.
He then told me about why he was going back home after all this time in America. It was because he had cancer that was likely untreatable and he wanted to stay in his home village and try to get medical treatment there until the end. However, his wife had to work another week or so and wouldn’t be in the country until then. I believe his wife was a volunteer or worker for a retirement home, so she could help take care of him. She didn’t leave with him because she wanted to stay and help the family get ready to travel as well. It definitely wasn’t easy for her to walk away and I’m pretty sure she started crying when she had her back to me. He was upset because he didn’t want to pass away with her not by his side. I had to hide my tears after that one. After hearing all that, I perfectly understood why he was getting emotional.
His flight wasn’t taking off for a few hours after I dropped him off, so that day I checked up on him every hour, had lunch with him, and eventually other people started hanging out with him when they noticed he was alone and he began smiling and laughing with them. Just thinking about him now gets me teary-eyed.”
“A man shows up at the airport with two dozen of beautiful roses, says his wife has been on a business trip for two weeks, and he is there to surprise her and bring her home, and needs help finding her.
I find her. She gets off the flight and is wasted as a skunk, so she needs a wheelchair. We get her up front to where her husband is waiting at the checkpoint exit. He surprises her, she puts her hand in her face, looks up and says ‘I’m leaving you, I found some guy on my trip and I love him.’
She threw the roses on the ground. He picked them up, clearly shaken, said he can’t do this, muffled out goodbye, and off he went. I have no idea what happened after that. But this guy was on Cloud 9 surprising his wife, and she completely destroyed him within seconds.”
Just Couldn’t Cope Anymore
“Once I flew to Shanghai and an old man in a wheelchair was wheeled off my flight. There was a huge kerfuffle at the exit, as no one had come to pick him up. Normally for wheelchair-bound elderly people, airline employees hand over to a relative. This man had dementia and when they called his family in Australia, who had put him on the plane, they said they couldn’t cope with him anymore. It makes me really sad what humans are capable of doing to each other.
He had a slip of paper with the phone number of his other child in China who said they never agreed to look after him and didn’t want anything to do with him. The only silver lining was the old man had no idea was happening; he didn’t know his children had abandoned him. So the airline called the police and in the end, they said the old man would be taken to a homeless shelter to wait for a government-sponsored nursing home. I don’t know what happened to him but it was incredibly sad.”
“This really gruff looking man came to the counter with a dog in a carrier. He was talking really quietly and fighting back tears. So, we are trying to help him with whatever he needs and be as comforting as possible. He says, ‘I just got a divorce and my wife who had a better lawyer than me got the dog. She hates the dog and is only taking him to hurt me and she is going to put him down as soon as she gets him.’
The dog is just sitting in the crate happy as can be and he asks if he can have some time with the dog before the flight. We say, ‘of course, and you can take him out in the grass and we’ll come and get you at the last possible moment.’ So, he takes this really happy dog over into the grass and is rolling around with the dog. He’s a big 6′ dude, rough as you can imagine, rolling around like a three-year-old with the dog jumping all over him. Even though this happened over 30 years ago, I’m still crying about it. Anyway, we offered to ‘lose’ the dog for him, as you know, stuff gets lost all the time. He said thanks for the offer but his ex would hunt him to end of the earth to punish him.”
A Whole New Perspective
“Years ago, I was a flight attendant and due to weather, we were slammed with missed connections, late arrivals and other air traffic nonsense thrown in the mix.
We were loaded up and waiting to depart from the jetway and after about 15 minutes, a woman was escorted to the plane. I led her to the last seat available on the last row and we finished our pre-departure duties and took off. Everything had gone wrong that day and if I recall correctly, we weren’t catered properly for the flight, so this added to my annoyance.
I took a moment to speak to the lady who boarded last and she said she was going to see her husband and then immediately became quiet. I asked her if everything was okay and she said he had had a heart attack and she was rushing to be with him at the hospital. I asked her if he was going to be okay and she said, ‘I don’t know.’ I was shocked and don’t know why but I asked her if he was going to make it and she looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know.’ I realized she didn’t even know if he was still alive and I spent much of the rest of the flight kneeling beside her in the aisle, holding her hand.
I have thought back to that moment thousands of times over the years since then in moments when I get annoyed at people or if something inconveniences me or someone else as you never know what someone is going through.”
“I’m in an international relationship.
I don’t know how the airport employees felt about it, but there are a few of them who witnessed a 6’3″ guy in all black, black cowboy boots with spikes on them, mirrored aviators, and a tattered cowboy hat crying his freaking eyes out at Gate 3 while saying goodbye to his Irish fiancée. I even lost it when paying the person outside the parking garage once. It was this sweet, old lady. I was choking back tears, and she made the mistake of saying, ‘hey, are you okay?’
MASSIVE SOBS ‘I’m sorry, I’m engaged to a woman who lives in another country and this is just really hard.’
The worst part was getting home after dropping her off at the airport. My place would feel so empty. Seeing the water glass she used, or the bed un-made on her side pulled at my heartstrings. We have plans to get married as soon as we can, but both of us live in crappy areas of our countries where there aren’t a lot of decent job opportunities. Money is our biggest hurdle.”
A Trip To Morocco
“I work at an International Airport in Germany. I was checking in an older lady who told me she has cancer and that she is going to Morrocco to get hash oil because that is supposed to help support the chemotherapy she is doing. While medical weed recently became legal in Germany, there’s a huge shortage of the substance in pharmacies across the country, so it’s unlikely she would have been able to get in time.
Two weeks later, a young girl was at the airport demanding a ticket to Morrocco while crying her eyes out. It was a pretty small airport, so I knew they were connected in some way. Maybe the older lady was her grandma or great aunt. Either way, I knew something awful had happened to her. It was like a punch in the gut.”
One Last Hoorah
“I used to work for a travel reward company (using credit card points to book travel) and one call was an older gentleman, in his late 70s, who was just LOADED in points. He was friendly and normal from the conversations we were having while I completed his bookings and I enjoyed the chat.
He told me he was going to use all his points that day which prompted me to ask the question, ‘oh, are we booking anyone else on this flight?’ to which he responded ‘Oh yes darling! We are booking the whole family!’ Cool, how generous. He then tells me that he is getting married to his girlfriend and flying the entire family out for the celebration. My heart melts.
Then he tells me that it is a celebration of love and life and that he was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and is too old and too impatient to spend his days in the hospital, so he is locking down his lady and getting all his kids and grandkids together for one last hoorah of his life. I was silent in heartbreak. He then said to me that ‘life is too short for being sad for someone who has lived a long and fulfilling life’ as he did.
I hope he had a heck of a send-off! I think about him every now and then and hope he was a miraculous exception and got to live a good 10 years more with his newlywed wife.”
Emergency At The Gate
“I worked for the company that ran the food service in the airport.
I saw a man taking his young son to the boarding doors and both of them just sobbing, while the kid’s mother, who was escorting him across the country, kept snapping at her ex-husband to hurry up. As soon as the poor kid was over by her, she told him that he would NEVER see his father again.
I’ve seen airport security call an ambulance for someone not having a medical emergency twice, and this was the first time.
People thought the guy was going to kill himself right there. The ‘mother’ was getting some pretty hate-filled looks, and I think the flight crew may have considered putting her in the luggage back if they could have gotten away with it.
I don’t have any more details on this, but a coworker and I both witnessed it, and my coworker was a single dad himself, and he ended up leaving work early due to the trauma.”
Ending It Beautifully
“Last summer, I worked at the international airport of The Netherlands where I would drive people around to their respective flights who were in need of assistance. Anyway, in my last week, I had to pick-up an elderly 85-year-old man from the check-in desk. He was accompanied by a huge number of family members and friends, and as I told him he had to say goodbye because we needed to move on to customs, and the majority of the group started crying.
At first, I felt really uncomfortable because I had no idea what the heck was happening, but after about 15 minutes, he told me he was going to Portugal to enjoy his ‘final moments in a beautiful place before ending it all.’ I went instantly silent, as I didn’t know how to respond to that, and I’m still left with so many questions as to how and why.”
She Came Back
“A friend of mine was staying in China as an au pair (basically a live-in nanny/assistant/maid). On the last day, all of her friends go to see her off at the airport. We exchanged hugs, talked about meeting again, gave out phone numbers, all with tears.
Then one of the guys gave her another hug and just straight out says, ‘You were the best lay I’ve ever had.’ She was blushing at that point and we were all stunned.
We asked them and they said they weren’t dating because she would have to go home soon. She left blushing, and we had a good laugh about it.
The dude who said it was just standing there as we walked away. He had a very kind of weird look on his face. When we asked ‘what’s up?’ he just said, ‘I hope she comes back.’
She came back.”
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