When Kesley Zwick boarded a flight with her sick infant daughter, she never thought she'd be traveling first class and inspire many with the story of one man's kindness.
Flying can be a challenge when you have a baby with you. And if that baby is sick and requires you to haul oxygen along with you too, you can imagine the gravity of the accompanying challenges. Fortunately, for Florida mother Kelsey Zwick, a generous stranger stepped up and gave her his first-class seat when he noticed that she was traveling with her sick 11-month-old daughter Lucy. It is not every day that a person decides to give up their own comfort for a stranger. But, Jason Kunselman could not enjoy his privilege knowing that while he stretched his feet out in the front, there was a mother with a child hooked up to an oxygen tank sitting cramped up in an economy seat all the way in the back. The two strangers were traveling on American Airlines flight 588 from Orlando to Philadelphia when the incident unfolded. Kunselman, 46, is an industrial engineer from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania whose job mandates a fair amount of travel. The frequent flyer was traveling back home after one such work assignment when he spotted Zwick and little Lucy.
He told Daily Mail, "She had an oxygen machine for her daughter. It couldn't be put over her head and, she had to have it with her the whole time. It was so touching seeing the little girl with her oxygen. I was tearing up as I saw her." But, instead of just being a compassionate observer, Kunselman decided to do something to help the struggling mother. He continued, "Kelsey was pre-boarding and I saw the young mother traveling with a child that needed oxygen. She was so tiny." He did not know the finer details of Zwick's story, yet he knew he had to do something.
"I expected to see her in the front since she had the oxygen machine with her but when I boarded she was in the back. So I asked the flight attendant if she thought the young lady with the baby would be more comfortable in my seat," he divulged. The mother gratefully accepted his kind and generous offer. She was en route to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where little Lucy, a twin, was to meet doctors for the severe chronic lung disease she contracted as a result of a pregnancy complication. She undoubtedly had a long, hard journey ahead of her and being able to spend at least part of it in comfortable, spacious seats must have been such a gift to her in that trying moment.
Overwhelmed by Kunselman's selfless gesture, Zwick had tears in her eyes as she switched seats with him. Kunselman too found himself fighting back tears for a whole other reason. He was moved beyond words at the sight of Lucy wired up to an apparatus just so she could breathe. "I just hoped that she had a better flight with more room," he said about the generous switch. About being seated at the less luxurious end of the plane, the American Airlines Executive Platinum frequent flier joked that he almost missed his connecting flight to Harrisburg because of how far back he was.
His thoughtfulness did not go unnoticed. At the end of the flight, several passengers came up to him and thanked him for his humanity. Kunselman thought that was the end of that, and went home to carry on with life as usual. Little did he know that Zwick would put up a Facebook post of their whole encounter and that it would instantly go viral. It was Kunselman's wife Kristy who brought it to his attention that news of his act of kindness was spreading like wildfire on social media. Zwick also sent him a personal message in which she wrote, "Thank you doesn't cover it. The world clearly needed your kindness."
American Airlines swiftly helped put the two in touch with each other once they learned of the heartwarming story. They even made time to respond to the incident. Their spokesperson said, "We truly appreciate the kindness of the gentleman in 2D. We were able to connect the two of them together, and our team is reaching out to him as well to extend our thanks for the kind gesture. In the words of Kelsey, we also want to pay it forward with our thanks and appreciation." Zwick, meanwhile, hopes that this story inspires others to do good, too.
"To the man in 2D. Today you were traveling from Orlando to Philly. I don't know you, but I imagine you saw us somewhere. I was pushing a stroller, had a diaper bag on my arm and also lugging an oxygen machine for my daughter," the opening line of Zwick's now viral post reads. She goes on to narrate all that happened and all it meant to her before concluding her heartfelt post. "Sooo... thank you. Not just for the seat itself but for noticing," she writes. "For seeing us and realizing that maybe things are not always easy." Adding, "It reminded me how much good there is in this world. I can't wait to tell Lucy someday. In the meantime... we will pay it forward."