It was Dec. 24, nearing 11:30 a.m., and boarding on Delta Flight 2494 had completed.
Mike Levy, 31, reclined in his first-class aisle seat, grateful for the unoccupied chair to his right.
Following a week-long family holiday in Florida, Levy was en route home to Toledo; his parents were settling in across the aisle from him.
“I thought I’d either have my own row or I’d be sitting next to a celebrity,” Levy told The Washington Post during an interview.
Passengers on the Boeing 737 were seated, attendants were closing the overhead bins, and then Hal Vaughan — a smiley, luggage-less man who offered to squeeze by so as not to burden Levy with standing — stepped slowly onto the aircraft.
Because it was nearing Christmas Eve, Levy asked, “Are you going home for the holidays or heading off on vacation?”
“I’m just along for the ride,” Vaughan replied.
Vaughan’s daughter Pierce was one of the Delta flight attendants on board. He planned to fly on all her scheduled Christmastime flights so they could spend the holiday together.
Levy learned that the Vaughan family had recently spent time at Hal’s home in Ocean Springs, Miss.
When the father discovered Delta scheduled his daughter on holiday shifts, he penciled in the six flights, too; they spanned the nation, from Louisiana, Florida, Massachusetts and Michigan.
By the late-morning flight on Dec….
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