‘Your kindness made everything better.’: Autistic woman thanks Southwest Airlines employees who calmed her anxiety

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“Dear Southwest Airlines,

I wanted to say thank you. What you may not know is, I’ve been flying since 2018. I took my first flight right after being diagnosed with autism at 23. I’m 26 now. I wanted to say thank you because you have NO IDEA how much you help me when I fly, and I am grateful for it. There’s always someone there to check on me specifically if I need it. Always. That right there just shows how much you take to heart of the Southwest Promise.

Autistic woman taking a selfie while flying with Southwest Airline
Courtesy of Jasemine Bybee

Being autistic and flying don’t really go hand in hand, especially if I fly alone. But again, there’s always someone at the gate waiting for me if I need it. While I make not look special needs, I am. I have anxiety due to being autistic and it’s not easy flying alone, but I make it because of an airline like you.

Southwest, you have no idea how much your generosity and kindness mean to me. Back on August 10, 2020, I was flying home from Oklahoma, and I got stuck at St. Louis airport due to the Derecho Iowa had got that day. No power at the airport, so flights were canceled.

View from the inside of the airport of a Southwest Airline plane boarding
Courtesy of Jasemine Bybee

I got a text from SWA saying my flight was rebooked for August 11th at 9 p.m. I would have waited for almost an entire day to get back home. I called everyone crying and scared. I didn’t know what to do. But two helpful ladies at the Southwest information booth transferred me to a flight to Omaha the very same night my flight to Des Moines was canceled.

Being autistic and dealing with flight cancellations do not come easy to me. Matter of fact, I get scared, I get anxious, I start to worry, and the list goes on. But you made everything better after I got a new flight.

Southwest Airline airplanes getting ready for boarding
Courtesy of Jasemine Bybee

I can’t thank you enough for the kindness you show to everyone who flies. It never goes unnoticed. I know I can always count on Southwest to get me to my destination the best you can do, and if not, you reassure your passengers everything will be okay. Flying autistic is not easy, especially since my caregiver/aunt has to stay home to work and help pay the bills.

If you ever see me rocking on any of the flights, it’s nothing to be worried about—my brain just goes in overload mode and it’s my way of coping with things. And if you ever see me staring into space, it’s okay. Nothing to be worried about. All you can do is just reassure me everything will be fine and I’ll be okay. It’s just part of being autistic.

window view of Southwest Airline airplane flying among the clouds showing the right wing
Courtesy of Jasemine Bybee

I am forever grateful to the SWA community. Your work and dedication never go unnoticed. Thank you for being an airline I can trust.

Sincerely, a very lucky autistic Southwest Airlines customer”

Pin shaped like a heart colored in yellow her and blue representing the colors of Southwest Airlines
Courtesy of Jasemine Bybee

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jasemine Bybee. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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