CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ayla Johnson was traveling from Charlotte to Grand Caymen with her family and best friend for vacation just before the start of school.
Ayla was excited about the trip and wanted to make sure her best friend Tito experienced every part of it with her. After all, Ayla was 8-years-old and they had been together since she was born.
With a firm grip on Tito, Ayla walked through the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport with her family to the terminal.
Shortly after the family boarded the plane, Ayla panicked when she realized Tito wasn't there.
"Ayla immediately starts crying," JoAnna Johnson said.
Tito was accidently left behind in the terminal.
"I went to the flight attendant, who's name is Timothy, and I said my daughter left her teddy bear in the terminal. Is there anyway to get it back?" Johnson said.
The flight attendant explained the doors to the aircraft were closed and they could not reopen them.
"I was really, really sad that I lost her," Ayla said.
The flight attendant called the gate agent at the airport to look for Tito, who was sitting alone in a seat in the terminal. An American Airlines agent scooped Tito up and brought her to a gate agent. The gate agent brought the bear to the plane, but with the aircraft door already closed Tito couldn't get on the plane.
When pilot Jonathan Gyory learned about Tito and saw the bear in the gate agent's arm, he slid open the window to the aircraft. The gate agent tossed Tito through the window and she safely landed in the pilot's lap.
As Gyory prepared for takeoff, he made sure Tito was safe in the cockpit.
"About halfway through the flight Timothy came down the aisle caring Tito for Ayla," JoAnna Johnson said.
Ayla quickly wrapped her arms around Tito and thanked the crew for her safe return.
"I was really really happy that I found her and I was really excited," Ayla said.
Not only was Ayla happy to have Tito back, but the family was too. JoAnna Johnson turned to Facebook to share her appreciation.
"I'm so thankful to all of the staff at American Airlines-Charlotte Douglas Int'l Airport who had a hand in reuniting my daughter with her best friend Tito. Tito is special to our family in many ways. While I was pregnant with my daughter, Ayla, we didn't know if she was a boy or a girl, so we called her Tito, the name of my imaginary childhood friend. When I was 36 weeks pregnant, it was discovered that my mom had a tumor growing in her heart and needed open heart surgery. My Aunt, Libby Hess, bought a chocolate scented teddy bear to take to my mom in the hospital after surgery. Mom named her Tito and when Ayla was born, my mom gave Tito to newborn Ayla. Ayla has taken Tito with her on many adventures and we would have all been heartbroken for her to be lost. Thank you, thank you American Airlines!"
When American Airlines executives learned about what its employees did, they were very appreciative as well.
"Our employees really do care about our customers and they take a lot of time to make sure our customers are happy," said Dec Lee, vice president American Airlines Charlotte hub. "This was just a fantastic example that made it to social media."
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