Lauren Elisabeth Larmon
When 6-year-old Lena lost her tooth on a United Airlines flight, she was worried the tooth fairy wouldn't be able to find it. That's when the pilot stepped in, writing a note to the tooth hairy explaining the situation and making one family's day.
Little Lena, a world traveler who has been to 35 countries, was on her way home after a family trip to Norway — and a long 36 hour layover in New York City — when she fell asleep on the late-night flight. It was only after her family landed at the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport and carried a sleepy Lena down to the baggage claim area that she realized her tooth was missing, her mom, Lauren Larmon, told Travel Leisure.
"Lena woke up and moved her tongue around her mouth," Larmon said, posting about the incident on Facebook last month. That's when she realized the tooth must have fallen out on the plane and started to get upset. "We just grappled with trying to know what to do with her. She got emotional and started to cry."
So Larmon, trying to console her 6-year-old at 2 a.m., suggested they head back up the escalator and see if they could get back in to look for the missing tooth. They then saw the flight crew.
When the crew asked what was wrong, the family explained their predicament and Lena's fear the tooth fairy wouldn't be able to find her tooth.
"A flight attendant very sweetly says 'this probably happens all the time to the tooth fairy, she probably understands,'" Larmon said, but while it was a "sweet thought, she was really upset."
That's when the pilot stepped in, pulling out a piece of paper and writing an official note.
"Dear tooth fairy," the note read, "Lena had a tooth fall out on her flight to Greenville, please take this note in place of her tooth. Captain Josh."
It seemed to do the trick.
Lauren Elisabeth Larmon
"She said 'do you think it's going to work?' and he said 'yes, I think it's going to work,'" Larmon recalled.
The next night, Lena placed the note under her pillow along with a little bead "to try to sweeten the deal" in hopes the tooth fairy would pay her a visit. And sure enough, when she woke up she had received $6 — a dollar for each year of her age — as well as a note from the tooth fairy herself: "It's ok Lena, I will get your tooth. Keep brushing."
"She was thrilled," Larmon said, adding, "People are not exceptionally nice to children on planes or while traveling. I think for someone just to see a situation that they could make better with just a minute of their time... was extremely kind. [The pilot] went out of his way to try to make a little kid happy at 2 in the morning."
A United Airlines spokesperson reached by T L said the company was "proud" of the encounter.
"At United, travel isn't about just getting customers from A to B, but creating memorable experiences that make customers excited to fly with us," the spokesperson said.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.