The Little Things That Count The Most - United Hub
Connections Matter

The little things that count the most

By Matt Adams

It was a scene that many customers on our flights wouldn't necessarily have noticed: an elderly woman slowly making her way up the aisle from the lavatory, holding onto the seatbacks as she shuffled along. But Denver-based Flight Attendant Ali Scully saw her. And it was clear to her that the woman was struggling.

Gracefully, Ali went up to her, crouched down and let the customer place her hands on her shoulders for support, then guided her to her seat. After sitting down, the customer thanked Ali, who smiled and went back to her onboard duties, and that was it. The whole interaction lasted only a brief moment. Just a bit of kindness in an otherwise unremarkable day at work.

Sometimes, though, an act transcends the effort put forth. A customer seated nearby saw it all unfold and was so moved by what Ali did that he wrote about it on the travel blog Live and Let's Fly.

"Thankfully I had my sunglasses to put on as I started to get a bit misty eyed," he wrote. "There are a lot of people out there and even a simple gesture goes a long way."

When she found out the story ended up online, Ali was stunned. She said when she saw the woman, she immediately thought of her grandmother, and she just did what she hopes anyone would do for her in a similar situation. Besides, it was what she was raised to do, her actions reflecting the values her mother, retired Flight Attendant Betty Lou Summers, instilled in her.

"My mom was a United flight attendant for over 20 years, so I grew up watching her help people. Not just on airplanes but wherever she was. She had already retired by the time I followed in her footsteps, but even though I can't work with her, I feel that I am an extension of her in that way."

Each day, Ali said, she tries to connect with the people who fly with her. Everyone on the plane, whether they are customers or employees, are passengers on the same trip, both literally and in a more universal sense, and Ali strives to make it a pleasant one for all involved. Before putting on her uniform, she reminds herself of that and of the difference one person can make. The fact that someone saw that in action and blogged about it was beside the point. To that woman, the customer whom Ali helped, her simply being there was enough.

"If your eyes are open, you will see that opportunities to help someone are everywhere," she said. "On the plane, I'm always looking to make people comfortable in any way I can. I've been non-revving since I was a baby, so I'm very comfortable in the air, but a lot of people aren't. They don't fly often, and I don't want them to feel like the journey was the hardest part."

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