Saturday, September 10, 2016

Altruism on Wow airlines

On a flight from Iceland to Baltimore on WOW airlines, a new ultra low-fare ride, the young lady sitting in the middle seat next me asked the flight attendant for a bowl of “yum-yum” noodles, and then handed her a credit card. The flight attendant prepared the noodle bowl, pouring in the hot water, handed it to the lady next to me, and then ran the credit card. The machine declined it.

The flight attendant explained that with these new chip cards, sometimes they declined “offline” transactions (I suppose at 35,000 feet, the machine was offline). The flight was 5.5 hours long, and the only food or drink available were the ones that you paid for.

Suddenly a guy behind us got up and offered the flight attendant his card, saying that “I’d like to pay for her.” The lady next to me broke into a wide grin.

After she took a few bytes of her food, she turned to me and said: “I gave him my window seat earlier so he could sit with his girlfriend.”

I got up and got my sandwich out of the carry-on that I had placed in the overhead compartment, when I overheard the lady in the row in front of us ordering a pizza, but her card got rejected too. She asked if they took cash, and the flight attendant said yes, so she searched her wallet and found some money, but she was short. She said: “well, just give me a cup of ice.” (ice was free, but water was not.)

I pulled out my wallet and asked how much she needed. She was short a few bucks, so I took care of it. She said: “when we land, my husband is coming to pick me up and I’ll ask him to pay you.” I told her that that was not necessary.

I sat down and the young lady next to me said: “that was very nice.” I told her that I got the idea from her when I heard that she gave up her seat to a stranger.

A little later another lady, this one to my left across the aisle, touched me on the shoulder and ask if I'd like to have some salted nuts that she had brought with her. I told her that it was very kind and that I also had a chocolate bar that I could share.

Something amazing was happening. In a few minutes, our whole row was sharing whatever we had. It was like a picnic in the sky.

Before we departed the plane, the lady that had offered the nuts gave me a card that had the address of a Buddhist temple. She said I should come.

The experience made me think about altruism and whether it's something that we do more when we see others do it. Maybe that's how we can better our world one person at a time.

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