An Epic Road Trip To Remember Forever!

Strangers charter van to reach their destination after their flight gets canceled.

Jan 5, 2023
An Epic Road Trip To Remember Forever! | Strangers charter van to reach their destination after their flight gets canceled.

An endearing, solutions-focused event saw a group of 13 stranded strangers recently club together to overcome the setback of their cancelled holiday season flight. What transpired, an impromptu 650-mile Orlando, Florida to Knoxville, Tennessee nighttime road trip, captivated over a million Americans, helping their can-do approach go viral.

A victory for community spirit
When their Frontier Airlines flight was twice delayed and then cancelled at the last minute due to mechanical issues, and with no alternative flight for another 48 hours, all passengers were faced with an extended delay.

The idea of driving to Knoxsville was the suggestion of Michelle Miller aka The Farm Babe, which was then rapidly rejected by airline staff. But as luck would have it, Amy,  one of the stranded passengers, drew upon her experience as a marine to help to ensure that  “we’re gonna get ourselves to where we gotta go to tonight!”

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Thirteen of the passengers agreed to the idea of renting a van as they had urgent business in Knoxville. These included Miller, a keynote conference speaker, a student who had to sit her finals, a mom traveling for her son’s custody battle, and a group of potential students interviewing for the University of Tennessee as WDBJ7 reports. As one of them, Mikayla Puckering, explains to Inside Edition, students were waving when she arrived saying “Oh, you’re that one girl from that TikTok!”

And on this exhausting journey, the fledgling community of strangers were handled with professional panache. To avoid everyone having to remember 13 names, each member of the group was assigned a number to prevent anyone being left behind at a rest stop.  

The aptly named participant who shared their story with the world
Alanah Story was the passenger traveling with her mom and grandmother, as News 3, Memphis reports, deciding to document their epic road trip on TikTok as @alanahstory21. All of the group watched in real time as the videos went viral, their focus on the views and all kept laughing by the comments, as Story related to Bored Panda, which was a perfect way to pass the time. 

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While Story admitted to initial reservations about carpooling this way, particularly due to some safety concerns, she was the first to agree that their ambitious road trip led the strangers on the 10-hour nighttime journey to end up feeling more like family. This striking turnaround was what was responsible for the trip’s huge appeal, she believes: “Part of why people like this story so much is because you can literally see on paper we have nothing in common,” she said. Story believes that the videos helped to bond the group during the overnight trip, turning them into fast friends

And this “new family” will endure. Miller says that four participants recently went out for karaoke in Knoxville, and that they are already planning a bigger reunion!

Goodness celebrated!
Story also shared how the road trip brought some unexpected realizations: “This, for me, really restored my faith in humanity,” she said. “We’re total strangers and I didn’t know them, but I kind of put my trust in them a little bit and it didn’t backfire on me…It was very restorative to see, like, people just be good to be good.”

“I’m really grateful to all these guys right here because my baby girl had her heart set out to make this appointment for the University of Tennessee… and we made our 10 a.m. appointment all because of the community that got together,” the driver of the van shared, as reported on Denver7.  

And as Miller explained to Bored Panda: “Realizing that kindness is still alive and well” was simply uplifting.

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Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.