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Imagine a family who is trying to return home, but forced to leave a family member behind in a foreign country.
That’s what happened to Fanya O’Donoghue, but she has nothing but praise for Southwest Airlines when returning home to Baltimore from a trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Her Irish husband, a valid green card holder, was stopped from boarding return flight in Punta Cana because the green card in his passport was expired.
“It turns out that when packing, he grabbed his green card and put it in his passport, but it was an old expired one, not his one that is valid until 2020. This is the ultimate face palm/throat punch of all when travelling abroad,” O’Donoghue said.
O’Donoghue told 11 News they didn’t realize it was expired, and neither did the ticket agent when they left Baltimore for their trip.
“It was 100 percent our mistake,” she said.
She expressed that while the green card ordeal was their fault, with four young children in tow it was a tough time, especially since they had to leave her husband behind.
“We were scrambling,” she said.
O’Donoghue said the couple’s young children had a meltdown, not understanding why dad would be left behind. She also was very upset.
Southwest did what they could to help the family, including allowing them to board the plane earlier and even holding the plane for 30 minutes when they thought her husband would somehow be able to make the flight, but he didn’t, she said.
He would have to wait to until the embassy opened days later in Santa Domingo — more than two and a half hours away, she said. Lodging and the wait made for uncertainly, but O’Donoghue said that’s when their travel agent and one special Southwest flight attendant stepped in.
“God bless Southwest. They were so kind,” O’Donoghue said.
The flight attendant had to return to the Punta Cana the day after the plane landed in Baltimore. While holding the young baby so O’Donoghue could use the restroom, the flight attendant took a step above and beyond and offered to help the frantic mother.
O’Donoghue would return early the next morning to give the flight attendant her husband’s current green card, which she delivered the next day to him in person on her return to Punta Cana. Two days later than scheduled, he returned home, much to the delight of his wife and children.
“Southwest by far exceeded expectations. They have great customer service,” O’Donoghue said.
O’Donoghue, who is a frequent business travel and has used a gamut of airlines, said she was impressed by Southwest and thankful for their special flight attendant.
She said she always makes it point to fly Southwest. She even wrote a touching post about it on Facebook, and it’s since gone viral. Check it out below.
In the meantime, WBAL-TV 11 News has reached out to the flight attendant who came to the rescue and Southwest for a comment, but we haven’t yet heard back from them.
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