Danie Betts Yarbrough, a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, warmed the hearts of netizens when she gave her nine-year-old son Caleb an unforgettable birthday present.
In a video, the 36-year-old stood at the front of the plane next to him and told the passengers, “Caleb thinks he’s going to California for his birthday. If I could get you all on the count of three to tell Caleb what state he’s actually going to today,”
She continued, “One, two, three…” and the passengers excitedly shouted, “Hawaii!”
Caleb’s expression was shocked as his mother stated, “Happy Birthday, kid.” Passengers cheered as he returned down the aisle to his seat before takeoff.
Danie told People, “Well since I’ve been working, I’m away from home a bit much. I don’t get to spend as much time with Caleb as I would like to, and I’m a single mother, so things are a little tight financially.”
“It just seemed like it made more sense to be financially feasible and make a work trip, a birthday trip. And I got my mother and my cousin and brought them along to kind of help with being with him while I was working,” she added.
Her family also helped with the surprise. Danie revealed that she had her mother put headphones on Caleb to keep him distracted as they were waiting to board the plane. The loving mother also informed the gate agents, who were careful not to reveal the exciting secret.
She was only able to inform the flight attendants later, as they were conducting security checks and about to board. She had to hurry around and whisper to the flight attendants, “It’s his birthday; he thinks he’s going to California. Don’t say anything.” In the meantime, Caled handed the flight attendants small gift bags, and they all participated in the event’s success.
But until Danie turned on the speaker while waiting for the luggage to be hauled onboard the aircraft, the passengers had no idea what would happen.
“We didn’t get to prep the passengers, but it just seemed like the perfect time to just try to make the announcement. And that’s when I got on the mic and I called him up to the front and he’s looking absolutely confused on why I am about to embarrass him and how,” she expressed.
Nonetheless, the passenger’s reaction was flawless and perfectly rounded out the surprise.
Caleb told Today, “I was surprised when I went up there; I was like… ‘Why am I up here?’ And then I was surprised… I was so happy.”
He had three days of sunlight, beaches, adventure, and education, and aside from visiting the beaches in Honolulu and Maui, Caleb stated that the most memorable aspect of the vacation was spending quality time with loved ones.
The proud mother stated that she is simply grateful to have allowed her son to discover the vast world of travel at such a young age.
“[My favorite part was] just being able to expose Caleb to some new things. I didn’t go to Hawaii until I was 35 and got this job with Southwest and it was great to be able to take him, and it was my mom and my cousin’s first time as well. So just to be able to have a first time for all of them and all of us be able to spend time together.”
Caleb expressed his gratitude for the trip, saying, “I was so happy my mom planned this. I was surprised. I was so happy. It told me my mom cares for me a lot. I already knew this, but it made me feel like she cared about me more, and I want to be like my mom when I grow up.”