After a WestJet crew learned a few passengers had their college graduation ceremony postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, they decided to host a special celebration right there on the plane.
A video captured by Instagram user @shaemac10 showed the class of 2020 members walking down the aisle as the employees hummed the ceremonial song "Pomp and Circumstance" over the PA system. The flight 655 team announced each graduate's name and major before handing out the "WestJet Diploma of Excellence" and a barf bag full of treats.
The sweet gesture seemed to truly touch the fellow travelers. Passengers observing the ceremony gave a round of applause for each student.
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The collegians were four fifth-year student from Briercrest College and Seminary who played on their school's volleyball team.According to the college's website, the four athletes - Ashley Erickson, Rebecca Garner, Kirsty Kindrachuk, and Elicia Wiebe - had been flying back to school in Canada after playing in the CCAA National Women's Volleyball Championships in Quebec City. They reportedly learned all of their classes had been moved online and that their graduation ceremony had been postponed until the fall just hours before. Erickson told the website this was particularly difficult as it marked not only the end of their sports season but also the end of their academic and athletic careers.
"No grad ceremony, no athletic banquet, everything was an abrupt ending from that day," she told Briercrest.ca.
Sensing the disappointment, team chaplain Joelle Epp shared the news with the flight attendants.
"As soon as they heard her say that, they got so excited and started asking us to write down the degrees we would be receiving," Garner told the website. "About five minutes later they started our impromptu, 39,000 feet above ground, graduation ceremony."
The small act of kindness had a big impact.
"It was honestly the sweetest act during such a confusing and changing time in our lives," Kindrachuk told the school's website. "But as small and impromptu [as] the 'ceremony' may have been, it was so kind that they took the time to do something out of the ordinary and celebrate with us during a flight. The four of us felt extremely blessed to experience that, and we need to recognize these small acts of kind customer service that make people feel valued and important during times like these!"
Watch the video to see the ceremony.