Early boarding privileges are typically reserved for frequent fliers and passengers with obvious disabilities. But on a recent JetBlue Airways flight from Boston to Los Angeles, gate agents granted special access to a passenger whose need wasn’t that apparent, and perhaps even in violation of their own airline’s policy.
Elaine Regienus-Gravbelle, who was recovering from a double mastectomy and two other minor surgeries, was on her way to way home to Redondo Beach, Calif. She asked a ticket agent if she could get on the plane first.
“Certainly,” he said without bothering to assess her medical condition or inquire about her status. “Take a seat near the gate and when we begin boarding I will signal you.”
Regienus-Gravbelle sat down next to a young man who was also on his way to LA. They struck up a conversation. Eventually, she asked him for a favor: Would he be kind enough to hoist her carry-on bag into the overhead compartment? Her recent operation made it painful to lift the luggage.
He, too, agreed to help.
When it came time to board, the young passenger grabbed her bag and followed her.
“The JetBlue employee looked at the young man and then at me, and said,’Your aide?’”
The gate agent stepped aside without questioning her, once again in apparent violation of JetBlue’s published procedures, and allowed both Regienus-Gravbelle and her friend to board the aircraft.
“Later when it came time to depart, several other passengers helped me out of my seat and carried my items out to the baggage area,” he says.
“Needless to say, there were angels all around me on that JetBlue flight that day and I will be forever grateful for all their kindness and generosity,” she says.
I’m happy to recognize the JetBlue gate agents and passengers on Regienus-Gravbelle’s flight. In an age of “me first” elites who line up to get on the plane first, and flight attendants who refuse to help passengers with their bags because their union told them they didn’t hafta, it’s heartwarming to hear about the “angels” on JetBlue flight 473 on Feb. 19, who came to the assistance of a passenger in need.
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