KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Millions of travelers will take to skies and roads during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. While most trips will go smoothly, some will hit speed bumps along the way.
That was true for a group of strangers trying to make their way from Orlando to Knoxville last weekend.
“They didn’t have enough crew to get us there, that’s why our flight was delayed,” said Alanah Story who was traveling with her mom and godmother when they got stuck in Orlando on Sunday night. The two were trying to get back to Knoxville. “…they [the airline] don’t fly every day, so I think our flight was canceled on Sunday night and we wouldn’t have been able to leave until Tuesday.”
Without many options, Alanah and her family hopped into a van with 15 strangers — all headed to Rocky Top.
Story admits she had some reservations about the idea.
“Are we really going to do this? And is this safe?” she said.
After more than 10 hours in the van, these strangers said they felt like family. Story thinks that’s why TikTok videos she made documenting the trip went viral.
“Part of why people like this story so much is because you can literally see on paper we have nothing in common,” she said. “Like we don’t know each other.”
Story also spoke about the videos helping bond the group and have fun with their adventure.
“The TikTok experience is really what made it a fun trip,” she began. “The whole time they’re refreshing it over and over again, ‘Oh it has this many views, now this many views, look at these comments,’ they were reading all of these comments out loud in real time.”
The group finally pulled into Knoxville around 8:30 Monday morning.
Story said this unexpected experience also came with some unexpected realizations.
“This for me really restored my faith in humanity,” Story said. “We’re total strangers and I didn’t know them, but I kind of put my trust in them a little bit and it didn’t backfire on me… It was very restorative to see, like, people just be good to be good.”
And for those getting ready to travel this holiday season, Story shared her advice.
“Go with the flow,” she said. “Things are going to happen, but if you search hard enough, you’re going to be able to find some positive outcome for things.”
As for the airline, the group was traveling on Frontier. WATE 6 On Your Side News asked for a statement about the viral video. The company response is below.
“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused by the flight cancellation. All customers had the option of waiting for the next available frontier flight or receiving a full refund.”