It’s not every day that passengers take their time to de-plane after arriving at their destination. But when a JetBlue flight bound for Orlando touched down at the gate this week, the entire plane full of people stopped to offer condolences to a fellow passenger — the grandmother of 20-year-old Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo (or "Omar," as he was known), one of the young people whose lives were taken by the shooter at Pulse Nightclub last weekend. In a Facebook post that is simultaneously breaking our hearts and making them swell, JetBlue flight attendant Kelly Davis Karas shares an emotional story about her experience escorting Omar's bereaved grandmother on a flight yesterday bound for Orlando. (JetBlue has confirmed the authenticity of the story to Refinery29.) “JetBlue employees made sure to be at her side every step of the way," Karas explains. This included standing by her wheelchair prior to boarding, supplying her with tissues, water, a pillow and blanket on board, and making sure someone from the crew was near her at all times. “She was understandably distraught, but met us with kindness and gentleness. And gratitude."
That's when Karas had the idea to pass around a piece of paper to the other passengers and invite them to write a message to Omar's grandmother if they wished. It quickly became clear that they were going to need more than one sheet of paper. “Folks are writing PARAGRAPHS,” a fellow flight attendant told Karas. “We had page after page after page after page of long messages offering condolences, peace, love, and support. There were even a couple of cash donations, and more than a few tears.” When the plane landed, the crew made an announcement over the intercom that, "JetBlue stands with Orlando," and then asked for a moment of silence to honor Omar. According to Karas, every single passenger on board took the time to stop and speak with Omar's grandmother and offer their condolences before disembarking. There were hugs and tears and a level of respect and patience that is basically unheard of in modern air travel. Her post closes with this heartwarming message: “I am moved to tears yet again as I struggle to put our experience into words. In spite of a few hateful, broken human beings in this world who can all too easily legally get their hands on mass assault weapons — people ARE kind. People DO care. And through our customers' humanity today, and through the generosity of this wonderful company I am so grateful to work for, I am hopeful that someday soon we can rally together to make the world a safer place for all. I will never forget today. #Orlandoproud.” As we reported yesterday, JetBlue is offering free flights to and from Orlando to immediate relatives and domestic partners of those killed or injured. A GoFundMe account was created by Omar's friend Daniel to help the family raise funds for his funeral. We will update this story if and when we are able to speak with Karas directly. You can read her Facebook post in its entirety here.