Samantha Levey became so violently ill at Mexico’s Guanajuato International Airport, she was not able to board her United Airlines flight home. Levey was alone, stranded, afraid, and could not speak the language.
A United agent, Victor Cisneros, compassionately came to the rescue, spending hours of his own time at her side while in the airport’s medical facility. He did not just comfort her, but arranged medical care, an overnight stay and new comped tickets for her flight home when she was well.
Why? He thought about how much he would worry if his wife were alone in the same predicament.
Correctly or incorrectly, Mexico has shouldered its share of tourism stereotyping, whether corruption or health related. Close proximity and unique premium cultural experiences keep us interested – and conflicted.
But this tale is of the gastrointestinal kind, and while modern medicine has given us Cipro and Pepto-Bismol, Levey was instead informed she had dehydration so severe it might as well have been an infection. Kudos for her frank and explicit sharing of the bad – because it most effectively reveals the beauty of the good.
“I was with my family in Mexico, just the three of us,” she says. “I live in Los Angeles, and my parents are in Pittsburgh. On our last day, my parents left early and my flight wasn’t until later. After they left, I started throwing up and couldn’t stop even during the drive to the airport. I felt so embarrassed for the driver.
“I was past the point of keeping any liquid down and my stomach was in extreme pain. I desperately wanted to get on the plane back to LA without having to go to a hospital. The airport paramedics spotted me as I crawled through the front door of the airport and made me stay. I wasn’t going to argue.”
A very sympathetic yuck – many of us can relate. We are so sorry.
While the airport paramedics and medical staff also had other passengers’ concerns at stake regarding traveling guidelines when ill, Cisneros had more on his mind.
“I was wheeled into a makeshift medical room unable to communicate and doubled over. I was scared, alone, sick, and stuck,” Levey lamented.
This could easily happen to anyone and could have been worse. Levey was in a situation perhaps perceived as not conducive to revealing good Samaritans. But how wonderfully wrong this is – and just when all seemed hopeless.
“Enter United agent Victor Cisneros,” Levey says. “He was unbelievably sweet and spoke English. He stayed with me for the whole time in their urgent care facility with an IV stuck in my hand. He held my hand when I was screaming with stomach pain, translating for the paramedic and doctor. He even held my hair back while I was throwing up.”
Wow – I just know that is not in his job description.
But wait – there’s more.
“When his shift was over, he stayed with me until I felt better,” she continued. “He arranged for a hotel and ground transportation for the night, took care of my luggage, and changed my flight at no charge.”
Formal policy regarding ticket changes for illness without penalty requires some manner of procedural request and documentation. If not near an airport, United provides this online interactive refund request form. But none of this helped Levey.
Cisneros took care of everything and then some.
“He told me that he wouldn’t want his wife to be alone,” Levey says. “It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard and he eased all my fears.”
Gosh – having a daughter who went through something similar, this spoke to me. United Airlines seems to be on a roll.
“He was so sweet, I want to be able to thank him and have United commend him on how he went above and beyond,” Levey went on.
We are glad to help with that.
“I would also love for people to know about him and what an excellent person he is,” she concludes.
Now they do.
This story originally appeared April 23, 2015.