A Texas man’s first solo flight with his young son was a success thanks to the kindness of the stranger seated next to him.
Evan Hughes, 32, of Fort Worth, was flying home to Dallas Love Field Airport earlier this month with his 8-month-old son, Ki, after visiting friends in Chicago. Hughes was forced to take a separate flight from his wife, Kari, due to a winter weather storm that upended their travel plans.
Since Hughes’ flight was scheduled to arrive earlier than his wife’s, he was tasked with traveling alone with Ki from Chicago to Atlanta and then Atlanta to Dallas.
“He pretty much slept the whole way from Chicago to Atlanta,” Hughes told ABC News “Then I had to quickly turn around and change his diaper and change his clothes and get on the flight to Dallas."
Sitting in a window seat on Hughes’ Dallas-bound flight was India Massinburg, a 25-year-old child care worker from Dallas.
“I was already sitting in my seat and I had my earphones on and thought, ‘Oh man, I hope this man with the baby doesn’t sit next to me’ because I didn’t want crying,” Massinburg recalled with a laugh.
When Hughes did sit next to Massinburg in the aisle seat, baby Ki was content through take-off but then started to get antsy as the plane reached cruising altitude.
“He started fighting me, trying to climb over me to get to her because she was near the window,” Hughes said. “She offered to hold him so he could look out the window but I said no because I didn’t want to impose.”
Hughes finally relented and let Ki sit on Massinburg's lap so he could look out the window.
“We were sitting by the wing so he looked out for a while and it kept him calm,” Massingburg said.
As Ki got sleepy, Massinburg also offered to let Ki stay on her lap and take a nap.
“I told him I work with children all the time so if he falls asleep it’s fine,” Massingburg said of Hughes. “The dad kept asking, ‘Are you sure?’ and I said, ‘Yes.’”
She added, "I was like if it keeps him calm it’s fine."
Ki slept for nearly 30 minutes, allowing Hughes to nap as well.
Hughes also asked Massinburg if he could take a picture of Ki sleeping on her chest because he wanted to share it with his wife. Hughes then also posted the image from their Dec. 11 flight on social media in order to share Massinburg's kind gesture.
Massinburg said a cousin messaged her after seeing her now-viral photo in news articles.
Now the two hope to get back in contact. Hughes said he remains deeply appreciative of Massinburg’s help on their long flight.
When he told his wife and family members what happened, Hughes said they were not surprised.
“Their reaction was, ‘Well look at [Ki], who wouldn’t want to hold him?’” Hughes said.