Southwest flight attendant comforts girl when she panics on flight

A little girl with Type 1 diabetes was flying from Orlando, Florida, to Newark, New Jersey, July 8 on Southwest Airlines.

Gabby Swart, 9, was travelling with her mother, Erika Swart and her two younger siblings who are 4 and 7. Because she has Type 1 diabetes, she and her family were given priority seating in the front row of the plane.

Today reported that Swart said her daughter has severe flying anxiety, but a generous flight attendant named Jovan Riley -- who goes by Garrick -- went the extra mile to make her feel comfortable.

>> Read more trending stories

Swart shared the story in a Facebook post July 9.

Swart said Gabby became uncomfortable once the plane began to take off, and Riley noticed and took action.

"He looked at me and mouthed, 'Is she OK?'" Swart told Today. "I said I didn't know if she was. He gave me a reassuring look. That was when he first started to notice.

"Throughout the flight, he tried making her laugh and bringing her special drinks. As we were getting closer, weather was rough and there was a bit of turbulence," Swart wrote on Facebook. "Gabby began having a complete panic attack on descent. He came up to the front and asked if she would like for him to sit next to her in the empty seat. …  She happily accepted his offer."

Swart said she was travelling without her husband and was seated across the aisle from her daughter with two younger children in the seats next to her. She held Gabby's hand across the aisle while Riley sat in the middle seat next to Gabby.

"During extremely rough turbulence she began crying and grabbed his arm," Swart wrote. "He gently told her she could hang on as long as she needed to."

Swart said Gabby's blood sugar started to crash because she was under so much stress. The sugar tabs Gabby carried with her were not working. Riley responded by getting her some orange juice and sitting with her again.

"She asked again if she could continue to hold his arm while the plane was landing," she wrote. "He of course agreed."

"Once on the ground, while taxiing to the gate, he came on the intercom and announced that his friend, Gabby, in the front row overcame her fears of flying and asked for a round of applause," Swart wrote. "The whole plane clapped for her."

Southwest Airlines commented on the photo, thanking Swart for sharing her experience with the airline.

"Garrick showed excellent displays of Southwest hospitality when helping reassure and entertain your daughter," the airline said. "Flight travel can be a scary thing for many, but our crews really care about everyone's experience. It warms our heart to see such kindness and caring from one of our amazing flight attendants, and we can't even tell you how proud we are of your daughter for getting through the flight."

Southwest assured Swart that Garrick will get the proper recognition for his hospitality.

This is Garrick, an employee of yours working flight 1264 flying from Orlando to Newark on Friday, July 8th and holding...

Posted by Erika Jeorgean Swart on Saturday, July 9, 2016

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.