Everyone wanted to reach their destination and decided to do it together in a rental van.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 8, 2022. It has since been updated.
Missing a flight is a nightmare that none of us want to experience, especially when we have to be somewhere urgently. We can be stuck in a difficult situation if there are no other flights to our destination. However, when a group of strangers found themselves in this scenario, they opted to take charge of it themselves. These 13 stranded passengers decided to hire a minivan and go on a road trip while taking TikTok users along for the ride, reports CNN.
Sunday evening at Orlando International Airport in Florida. Frontier Airlines' evening flight to Knoxville, Tennessee, has just been canceled. Passengers were seeking alternative flights on their phones and queuing to talk with stressed-out airport personnel. Michelle Miller, a well-known influencer, was scheduled to speak at a conference in Knoxville on Tuesday. Carlos Cordero and Laura Puckering were touring the University of Tennessee with their 17-year-old daughter Mikayla Puckering. One of the passengers was on his way to a custody dispute. Someone else was assisting a friend in relocating to Mexico. Others were simply eager to get home.
When asked how the plan for a road trip with strangers originated, none of them had any idea. Michelle claims it was her idea, but everyone else helped make it a reality. Carlos believed it was Amy's idea, but he gave his credit card. Laura claims she would never do something like this. Mikayla was shocked throughout the whole experience. When the notion of hiring a vehicle and driving overnight to Knoxville originally arose, Carlos and Laura initially said no. It sounded tiring but then they saw their daughter Mikayla's face, heartbroken at the prospect of missing her dream college visit.
Carlos recalled, "I said, 'I'm down.' She was like, 'If you're down, I'm in.' Then some other lady came in and said, 'If you guys are in, I'm in.' And then it just manifested into 10-15 people." He added, "We got a really good vibe because these are regular normal wholesome people trying to get home and having things that they need to take care of." The stranded travelers made their way downstairs to the car rental section. Carlos noticed Hertz had no lineups, so he went over there and rented a 15-person minivan.
While waiting for the van, one of the passengers, Alanah Story, a college graduate who works in media, began recording the adventure for her TikTok account. She explained, "If I thought that this was crazy, I knew other people might think it's crazy also. And so I just figured, this is a very unique bunch of people, we're all very different. So I don't know, maybe other people would want to see it too, because things like this just don't happen on the regular." 13 stranded passengers eventually joined the unexpected road trip. Although they planned to take turns driving, Carlos ended up doing most of it with the others helping him stay awake and alert.
Throughout the trip, the strangers started talking about their lives, families and jobs. In the meantime, Alanah's original TikTok video and the updates that followed started going viral with thousands of people supporting the group's wholesome trip. Everyone was invested and could relate to somebody in the van. Michelle said, "We were like a big dysfunctional family. It was fun." Carlos said, "It took collective effort. Everybody really had their own thing going on. But everybody cared about one another's ventures and responsibilities."
Upon arriving at their destination, the strangers went their separate ways knowing they'd made friends for a lifetime. Laura says she tears up with gratitude every time she thinks about how the 13 strangers came together. Alanah added, "I feel like this situation for me specifically kind of restored my trust in humanity a little bit. There's definitely hope for people -- people, they can be good. And also, if you get the opportunity to go on a crazy adventure, you should take it, because you never know what's gonna come out of it."