If you have spent time at the checkpoint you will occasionally see one of these passengers. They shuffle through the queue with uncertainty, dragging a worn carry-on that has clearly seen better days. Their eyes search for something familiar and their body is so frail that you think one bump and they will break. Obviously out of their element, they seem to silently say, please help me. And that’s what we did.
It all started at Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL) when an elderly man was dropped off to catch a flight from MSL to Nashville International Airport (BNA). It was apparent to MSL Supervisory TSA Officer (STSO) Michelle Lowery and Boutique Air (BTQ) Lead Agent Brandy Peden that the man was not well and needed help.
“That morning when I saw the man being left alone to fend for himself at the airport, it saddened me to my core,” said Lowery.
His clothes were badly soiled and when the women offered to assist the man with clothes from his bag, they were found to be in the same dilapidated shape. So the women headed to a local store and bought clothes for the for passenger to wear on his multi-connection flight from MSL to BNA to Dulles International Airport (IAD) and finally landing at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).
While shopping, MSL airport employee Lisa Cummins stepped in and offered to help the passenger to the restroom and gave him a snack as he was without food or money.
“If this was a family member of mine, I would hope someone else in my position would show him the same compassion,” recalled Cummins.
With new clothes, a jacket that had been in the airport lost and found for over a year and a small duffle bag with a few toiletries, snacks, tooth brush and his medication, the good Samaritans helped the passenger to the gate and onto his flight to BNA.
“When I saw this gentleman, all that was in my heart was how can I possibly make him know that there are still good people in this world,” said Peden.
“The flight from BNA to IAD had already boarded before I was made aware of our assistance,” said Alabama FSD Gail Linkins.” I contacted IAD FSD Scott Johnson who contacted United Airlines Customer Service and they assisted the passenger’s movement at IAD.”
Linkins then contacted CLT FSD Kevin Frederick to advise him of the passenger’s situation and time of arrival. Frederick made arrangements for the passenger to be met by two CLT officers, Lead TSA officer Brian Flores and STSO Ariel Ruiz. Upon arrival, the TSA officers and G2 Secure Staff aviation services met the passenger and helped him to the taxi stand where his brother had prepaid the fare to his home.
Several days later, Peden received a call from a very appreciative brother. He related that when his brother arrived, he immediately started looking for his medication. It was then he noticed the new duffle bag and coat. He started to cry, Peden recalled, thanking us for the wonderful way we cared for his brother. He said that we saved his brother’s life by making sure he got to Charlotte where he could get help with his health issues.
“I am very proud of STSO Lowery, Ms. Peden and Ms. Cummins actions,” said Linkins. “TSA Alabama works closely with our airlines and airport authorities to support our passengers both in customer service and to ensure their safety. STSO Lowery is an excellent supervisor who focuses on both security and customer service.”