You never know who you'll meet on a plane.
One Southwest Airlines flight attendant said her spirits are lifted after having a serious, spontaneous discussion about race and current events with a passenger who later revealed himself to be the CEO of American Airlines.
In a now-viral post shared to Facebook on Saturday, Southwest stewardess JacqueRae Hill said that her heart was feeling heavy following the death of George Floyd and protests across the country, per ABC News.
Smiling and greeting passengers on the flight to Panama City, Fla., Hill noticed that a man was carrying a book on her "to-read list."
Later during the trip, the flight attendant approached the passenger to ask what he thought of the tome "White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism."
“He replies ‘Oh I’m halfway through it’s really good. It really points out how important these conversations on race are,’’ Hill recalled. “As I began to respond the tears just start falling. I have been so sad every day and I just want to understand and be understood so we can begin to fix it.”
“I’m pretty sure I startled him by seemingly dumping all my emotions on him but his reply was ‘I’m so sorry. And it’s our fault that this is like this.’”
Their conversation continued, and Hill said the heartfelt exchange was “everything I needed,” even though she was crying. As the chat drew to a close, she introduced herself – and was surprised to learn that she had been speaking with Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines.
Shocked, Hill explained that her mother works for American at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C. and the two shared a “big hug.”
“I thanked him for being open and allowing this conversation to happen because I just needed to hear it,” the flight attendant wrote, adding that she thanked God for “love and faithfulness” in hearing prayers she had made earlier that day.
After the flight landed and passengers began to exit, Parker gave Hill a note thanking her for their conversation and the new friends took a photo together.
“Thank you so much for coming back to speak with me. It was a gift from God and an inspiration to me,” he wrote. “I am saddened that we as a society have progressed so slowly on an issue that has such a clear right versus wrong. Much of the problem is we don't talk about it enough."
The CEO also shared his email, and asked Hill to say hello to her mom for him.
The flight attendant’s Facebook post has since gone wildly viral, receiving over 7,200 likes and 3,900 shares
“There are so many different ways to affect change in the world. I stand with anyone who wants to make a difference no matter if it is how I would do it or not,” Hill said of the special encounter. “I believe that God answered my prayer so perfectly that I want to be a part of an answered prayer for someone else.”
According to ABC, Parker was on the competitor carrier’s flight because he needed to travel to Panama City and all of American’s seats were sold out.