Good Samaritan pays over €1,700 for flight home for Kerry woman

Amy Reidy from Cordal pictured showing off the tickets bought for her so generously by a complete stranger, Stefan Roth. Photo by Fergus Dennehy
Amy Reidy from Cordal pictured showing off the tickets bought for her so generously by a complete stranger, Stefan Roth. Photo by Fergus Dennehy

Fergus Dennehy

A Cordal woman and a former Kerryman reporter has spoken of the emotional moment a complete stranger in Pudong Airport in Shanghai paid almost €1,700 for her flight home.

Amy Reidy, now a presenter on Radio Kerry, had been on the holiday of a lifetime with her sister, Katie, when her return flight home was abruptly cancelled – leaving her faced with having to pay an extra €1,700 to get on another flight home.

Amy and Katie ended up on separate flights home – with Katie flying ahead to Frankfurt – while Amy faced an anxious wait alone in the airport with no obvious means of getting home.

Lufthansa said that because Amy had not taken her original flight, which she missed due to a job interview, she had then forfeited her place on her return flight – something that Amy said she knew nothing about until she arrived at the airport to check in.

Despite pleading with staff at the check-in desk, Amy was told that there was nothing that could be done to help her, and with the situation coinciding with Chinese New Year, all flights home for the days ahead would have cost thousands of Euro.

Now facing having to spend two full days waiting in the airport for a cheaper flight to come up, Amy was getting increasingly stressed.

As she unsuccessfully tried to make contact with customer service, Amy overheard a young German man – Stefan Roth – going through the exact same situation as her.

Stefan and Amy, who had spoken briefly and “bonded a little over how unhelpful we felt the airline was”, were now left facing with paying a “crazy price” for tickets home.

As Stefan was forced to pay over €10,000 for his ticket, Amy was sitting, crying and anxiously searching through her online banking for the funds to make it home.

And that’s when Stefan made an incredible gesture.

“He handed his card to the lady behind the desk and said that he was paying for my flight as well,” said Amy.

“It was just unbelievable. I had tears in my eyes, I was so upset at this stage and I just told him ‘absolutely not’. I said ‘that’s not happening’.

“He just turned to me and said “you asked me if I was going to get sorted in the middle of your ordeal, you asked about me when you were struggling yourself. You were in trouble when I was in trouble. Now, I’m sorted, and it’s only right that you’re sorted too,” Amy continued.

Likening the entire situation to a plot from a Christmas film, Amy said that the generosity that she witnessed from Stefan was something “unbelievable”.

“He said that he wasn’t bothered about the money involved and that all that mattered was me getting home safely. I obviously insisted on getting his bank details to pay him back – which he gave very reluctantly. Then, he gave me a hug, and he just legged it away to catch his flight in another terminal – and that was it.”

Once she was safely on the flight to Frankfurt to meet up with Katie, Amy said had her first chance to reflect on Stefan’s “amazing gesture”.

“Once I was on the plane, I was just hysterical thinking about this man who, realistically, I will never see again. Having had the chance to sleep on it since, honestly, the whole thing is even more surreal,” she joked.

“When it was all happening, it was such a whirlwind, and you are just in fight or flight mode.

“It was one of those rare situations where you literally have nobody to turn to for help. My parents were thousands of miles away, and I did not want to worry them needlessly when they wouldn’t be able to do anything from that far away.

“I said that I would try to sort this by myself, but, obviously, I hadn’t counted on Stefan and his generosity.

“I feel totally humbled. I am so appreciative of his gesture. I will never forget his face, I will never forget the feeling of his hug when he left and then just the utter, utter relief of waking up in my own bed after the flight.

“I, hand on heart, have never been so emotional or grateful to anyone in my entire life like I am to Stefan.”

One more surprise awaited Amy upon her arrival back on Irish soil in Dublin Airport; she came into arrivals and was delighted to see her mother standing there and waiting to collect her and Katie.

“All we heard was my mother calling our names as we came in. She had surprised us and came to collect us,” said Amy.

Now rested up at home and reflecting on an amazing series of events, Amy would not go so far as to call it ‘life-changing’ but that it definitely has changed her perspective on people in general.

“I am quite a positive person in general, but the kindness from this stranger blew me away,” she said.

“I do not know, genuinely, what I would have done without him.”