Travel agent Helena Raleigh has insisted she was ‘just doing her job’ after coming to the aid of a crestfallen family who were told they did not have the correct paperwork to return to the UK.
Helena, a homeworker for 22 years – the last 12 with Travel Counsellors – selflessly risked missing her own flight home as she dashed to help a distraught couple and their four young children.
The Cheshire-based agent was returning from Paris after visiting her daughter and was among the last to board the UK-bound flight.
But as she handed her passport and passenger locator form to easyJet staff, Helena spotted a tearful young woman and her partner desperately scrawling through their phones.
Surrounded by their four young children, the couple grew increasingly frantic as the flight prepared to close.
“She was shaking and in an absolute state,” Helena explained.
After more than three decades of helping travellers through times of crisis, Helena couldn’t ignore their plight.
Risking missing the flight herself, Helena instinctively went to their aid.
“I said I was a travel agent and asked staff if they could hold the flight for a few moments as I needed to see if I could help,” she told Travel Gossip. “I’m not sure what he said because I was already on my way over to see what the problem was. I just couldn’t walk past.
Helena Raleigh: I was just doing my job
“I asked if they had booked a day two test and they said, what test? I couldn’t quite believe it but then travel has become very confusing.
“They were in a state with babies crying and not really knowing what they were doing. They had obviously been told they didn’t have the right paperwork but didn’t realise what they needed.
“Fortunately it didn’t take too long to buy the tests and fill out the locator form, but it was a very close call. I boarded and the family followed behind me.”
As she disembarked in Manchester, Helena walked past the relieved family.
“They had deliberately stayed in their seats and as I was passing the lady grabbed hold of my hand and said ‘you’re an angel, I can’t thank you enough’.
“She told me that when they finally boarded in Paris, the guy who I’d asked to hold the flight said he’d made a call not to close the flight because I’d said I was a travel agent. She said being a travel agent had made all the difference and enabled them to catch the flight.
“It was lovely, she was so grateful and said it had saved their holiday.
“The woman behind me asked ‘what the hell have you done’!? When I told her she took my business card and said ‘I’m not going to travel without you in future’!
“But it’s what travel agents do. I basically told both ladies that I was just doing my job.”
Helena said the story illustrates just how important agents have become in an environment where travel requirements continue to bamboozle the public.
“I’m not sure if the family had booked with a travel agent, but I doubt it. We are still in COVID times so please book with an agent. It’s so important to have someone you can trust and who will be able to look after you.”