TSA Officer Pays for Family's Cross-Country Flight Following Scheduling Mistake

TSA agent

After a family became stranded in the wrong Portland, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer used his own money to help them reach their destination.

TSA officer Martin Rios was called to the checkpoint at Portland International Airport on a November morning to help interpret for a family of Spanish-speaking passengers. He learned that they had been stuck at the airport since 7 p.m. the night before, confused about the mishap.

The family — who intended to travel to Portland, Maine — had ended up in Portland, Ore. after a travel agent had booked their flight to the wrong state. As Rios escorted the family to a ticketing agent to rebook them a flight to the east coast, Rios learned that the family only had $200 and decided to pay for the family's tickets with his own money.

"I just know that I didn't really have it in me to turn them away and just go back to work like nothing happened," he told KATU News in Oregon. "They were in a country where they didn't really speak the language, didn't know much about where they were, and they ended up all the way across from where they were supposed to be."

He said that purchased the tickets with no expectation of being reimbursed. To honor Rios's above-and-beyond service, the airport presented him with its "Make the Connection Quarterly Award."

Colleagues said that Rios's deed is true to his character.

"[Rios] is a go getter and the fact that he chose to support these passengers in their time of need was no surprise to both his team and our leadership," Senior TSA Manager Jeremy Alanis said in a statement this week. "Martin is, and has been since day one, a shining example of what it means to be a team player. [He's] the kind of officer and person any airport in the country would be proud to have as a member of their team."

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.

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