Canceled Flight Leads to a Most Unusual Road Trip

13 strangers rent van, drive together from Orlando to Knoxville after nixed Frontier flight
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2022 1:31 PM CST

What do you do when you're in the airport and find out your flight has been canceled? You could hang out in the airport until a new flight is available; resign yourself to spending more time in the city you're flying out of; or hook up with a dozen complete strangers who were also on the canceled flight, rent a huge van, and roadtrip it to your destination city. Not many people would choose the third option, but that's exactly what happened over the weekend at Florida's Orlando International Airport when a group of stranded passengers "put their heads and their wallets together," per WATE.

Alanah Story, a college grad in her 20s, tells WBIR that Sunday's evening Frontier flight from Orlando to Knoxville was delayed twice then finally canceled, with the next flight not until nearly three days later. Suddenly, Story says, one of the other passengers offered an intriguing option: "She suggests that we get a van and all [ride] back together," Story recalls. One by one, other passengers warmed up to the idea, and before they knew it, 13 of them had lugged their bags to the car rental area and commissioned a 15-person van from Hertz, per CNN Travel.

"The rest is kind of history," says Carlos, one of the 13. Story, who works in media, started filming her road trip buddies to tell their story (see everyone intro themselves here), which ended up going viral on TikTok in real time as they made the 650-mile drive. During the journey, the group—which included a mom and dad taking their daughter to a college tour, another parent headed toward a custody battle, and someone helping a friend move to Mexico, among others—chatted, slept, and watched their TikTok views rack up. "It was like 1 million views after a few hours," Laura, the mom of the prospective college student, tells CNN. "We were like, 'What is going on?' ... We were just reading the comments from people and we were laughing."

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WBIR notes that Story's clips ended up nabbing more than 4 million views. When the exhausted travelers finally reached Knoxville, they said the trip couldn't have gone better. "It almost went too perfect," Carlos, who did most of the driving, tells CNN. "There was no traffic. Everyone got along, everyone pitched in. It was just seamless." They all then split up to continue their lives as they'd been before Sunday night, though now, as CNN notes, "the group went from strangers to friends," with some making plans to meet up in the future. One even invited all of the others to visit her at her home in Mexico. "If we would have went on that plane, none of this would have happened," passenger Mikayla, the college-touring student, says. "We wouldn't have met these people." (More uplifting news stories.)

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