The young girl has since heard back from the tooth fairy, who was more than understanding about getting a note instead of a tooth.
The heartwarming story of how a United Airlines pilot went out of his way to make a 6-year-old's journey worry-free is winning hearts online. Young Lena was on a flight from New York to South Carolina last month when she realized she was missing one of her bottom teeth. "I was sleeping on the airplane. My mom woke me up... and we were going to go pick our suitcases up. And I said, 'Mommy, mommy, I think my tooth fell out,'" the 6-year-old told Good Morning America, adding that she hadn't expected her tooth to fall out during the flight.
Because she usually puts her baby teeth under her pillow for the tooth fairy to pick up, this was very bad news for Lena. The youngster's mother, Lauren Larmon, revealed that they had already been through a couple of long travel days when Lena noticed she was short of one tooth. The June 17 flight from New York to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in Greer, South Carolina, was their last flight home from Norway after a 36-hour delay in New York. "We tried to walk back to the airplane, but security was closed. It was 2 a.m.," Lena explained.
She revealed that she was "very emotional" and "crying" when she realized what had likely happened. "I was like, 'We're never gonna find my tooth again,'" she said. It was at this crucial point that Captain Josh Duchow—or "Captain Josh," as Lena called him—swooped in to save the day. Seeing the little girl's distress, Duchow offered to write a letter to the tooth fairy on her behalf, explaining how she'd lost the tooth and requesting that she take the note in lieu of the missing incisor. "Dear Tooth Fairy, Lena had a tooth fall out on her flight to Greenville," he wrote. "Please take this note in place of her tooth."
Duchow, who piloted the flight, signed the note, "Captain Josh." Larmon was so moved by his sweet gesture that she took to Instagram and Facebook to share the memorable encounter and applaud the captain for going the extra mile for her daughter. "In a world full of bad airline stories, @united came through when Lena fell asleep on her flight home and woke up without a tooth. Very concerned that The Tooth Fairy would not show up because the tooth is somewhere on the airplane, the pilot saw Lena trying to go back through security to get her tooth and helped her out," she wrote. "Thank you, Captain Josh! I’m sure the Tooth Fairy will accept this note in lieu of a tiny tooth."
In a statement addressing the adorable interaction between one of its pilots and the young passenger, a United Airlines spokesperson confirmed that Duchow was indeed the pilot for a United Express flight on June 17 from New York to Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP). "At United, travel isn't about just getting customers from A to B, but creating memorable experiences that make customers excited to fly with us," they said. "We're proud to see moments like this that underscore our commitment to going above and beyond for our customers and creating an airline where Good Leads the Way."
Meanwhile, Lena has since heard back from the tooth fairy. "She said, 'Lena, it is OK that you have lost your tooth on the airplane. I will get it. Keep brushing,'" the youngster revealed. Lena has also prepared a response for the tooth fairy being so understanding: "Thank you for not being mad at me. And thank you for all my gifts when I lost my teeth. I love you." As for Duchow, this is what she'd like to tell him: "Thank you to Captain Josh for stepping in and helping me. You were very nice to me and thank you for being nice to me."