Only passenger on flight, woman going to see dying mother upgraded to first class for free

Only passenger on flight, woman going to see dying mother upgraded to first class for free
Sheryl Pardo (front), who was going to see her dying mother, was the only passenger on an American Airlines flight from Washington, D.C., to Boston. (Source: Sheryl Pardo/CNN)

(CNN) - A woman preparing to see her mother for the last time had her spirits lifted on her flight to Boston when the flight crew upgraded her ticket to first class.

Sheryl Pardo was the only passenger March 27 on an American Airlines flight from Washington, D.C., to Boston, due to the coronavirus pandemic. She was on her way to see her dying mother, 83-year-old Sandra Wilkins, who had dementia and had been declining for months.

Pardo says that despite the circumstances, the flight attendants, Jessica and Dion, made the trip a “super positive” experience. The crew upgraded Pardo to first class, addressed her personally over the loudspeaker and took selfies with her – making sure to stand six feet apart.

“The flight attendants were so great ... and it was kind of fun,” Pardo told CNN. “I was obviously anxious about seeing my mom for the last time, so it was kind of awesome to just laugh.”

Since Pardo was the only passenger, she spent the entire time telling the flight attendants about the kind of woman her mother was.

Wilkins worked as a school nurse before returning to school to get her master’s degree in human ecology. She then spent years helping refugee families in the U.S. She also volunteered in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

Pardo, right, and her family plan to host a memorial for her mother, 83-year-old Sandra Wilkins, when it is safe to do so.
Pardo, right, and her family plan to host a memorial for her mother, 83-year-old Sandra Wilkins, when it is safe to do so. (Source: Sheryl Pardo/CNN)

After the flight, Pardo got to spend time with her mom before she passed away March 28. The family plans to host a memorial when it is safe to do so.

“I think, in moments like this, the pain of losing your mom is exacerbated by being in this frightening time,” Pardo said. "Other people’s kindness is what’s going to get us through this.”

Copyright 2020 Sheryl Pardo via CNN. All rights reserved.