Pardo’s mother Sandra Wilkins entered palliative care in Sudbury after a long battle with dementia in late March. On the morning of March 27, Pardo, from McLean, Virginia, traveled to Reagan International Airport in Washington DC, sure that she would be able to board a flight to Boston due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I (could book a flight) on Travelocity,” Pardo, 59, said in a telephone interview on Saturday. “The funny thing is that I couldn’t confirm it. I tried to register and they didn’t let me register. So honestly, I wasn’t even sure when I was driving that morning. And things weren’t completely closed at this point … It was that very funny gray area. “
To her surprise, she saw only six other passengers at the airport. The only store open was a Dunkin. When the time came to board her American Eagle flight, she discovered that she was going to be the only passenger.
“I had a lower seat and got in and the porter told me that I was the only person on the plane,” said Pardo. “She brought me down and [the flight attendants were there] and I was like, “Where do you want me to sit? They said to themselves, “Sit first class!” You can sit wherever you want! ‘»
After Pardo took his seat in first class, Jessica (Pardo did not obtain his last name), one of the two flight attendants, addressed the aircraft as she usually did before a flight . Of course, this time was a little different.
” My name is Jessica. Dion and I will be your flight attendants today, “said Jessica. “And we have – Sheryl – as a passenger today, let’s live in a first class mom! Everyone yells at Sheryl, the only passenger on the plane! “
FLYING SOLO: A lone passenger on a flight to Boston receives a personal intercom from a flight attendant while a coronavirus sends the aviation industry into virtual hibernation. https://t.co/BzuMSSzTwM pic.twitter.com/Lqth6g4xxT
– ABC News (@ABC) April 3, 2020
The captain also joined the fun.
“When we got to cruising altitude, the captain came over (the speaker) and said,” Welcome, Sheryl, 10,000 feet, “” said Pardo. “So it was super cute too because the captain was like” let’s make it fun. “”
Pardo did not need the luxury of first class seats to entertain her during the flight. She said that she felt an instant connection with the flight attendants, calling them her “best friends.” She felt a particularly close bond with Jessica.
“There is this kind of fear (right now) that we are a little more vulnerable and open,” said Pardo, who also noted that there was social distancing during the flight. ” [Jessica] told me a lot about his life. And honestly, she had a really interesting life story. And I told her I was going to see my mom.
“We really just had this sincere conversation. “
Pardo said she has not spoken to Jessica since that day and hopes that this story (which has been picked up by national media such as ABC News and CNN) will reach Jessica so that she can contact her.
“I don’t have his information,” said Pardo. “I hope it got a lot of attention. I hope she knows how to contact me because I’m on Twitter (her handle is @spardova). “
Pardo also hopes this story pays attention to the flight attendants who she says do a great job.
” [Jessica] and Dion were both new flight attendants, “said Pardo. “So I guess that means they are, you know, the people who go down on the totem pole, and they are the ones who had to go to work during this situation. I hope they get a lot of credit for doing a great job and giving them a public face. “
When she got off the plane, Pardo had to say goodbye to her mother one last time. She spent the day with her mom and brother Greg in Sudbury before returning home the same evening.
Pardo was again the only passenger on his return flight. But this flight was not the same as the one she had taken this morning.
“They were very funny,” Pardo said of the flight attendants on his American Eagle flight that night. “But I didn’t really argue with them. I just think I clicked with Jessica and (that flight) was the first thing in the morning, and I’m a morning person.
“And of course, going home was more difficult, because it was the last time I went to see my mom. “
Sandra Wilkins died the next morning, March 28. She was 83 years old.
Pardo said his mother did not want to stay in a hospice for long and was glad that she could pass her own conditions. She is also happy with the story of the last days of her mother’s life.
“It’s so cool that this little bit of attention surrounds his death,” said Pardo. “It is not something a little nurse from Ithaca, New York, would have expected.
“I think everyone really wants a great story right now. “
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