Her luggage was lost.  Then a kind stranger came to her rescue

Her luggage was lost. Then a kind stranger came to her rescue

Her luggage was lost.  Then a kind stranger came to her rescue

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(CNN) — It had been seven days since she landed in New York City, and Hana Sofia Lopes’ luggage was still missing.

Every morning, Hana Sofia called the airline for updates and ended the call increasingly frustrated, and still without luggage.

“Here I am in New York, with no clothes other than the ones I wore on the flight. No shoes. No hairbrush. No makeup. No socks. Nothing. Just me and my handbag,” she tells CNN Travel.

Hana Sofia, a Luxembourg-born actress of Portuguese descent in her early 30s, stopped in New York City in October 2022 to catch up with a friend. Her end point was Canada, where she began producing a film.

On arrival in Montreal, Hana Sofia was to attend a prestigious industry event, where she was to rub shoulders with film legends and Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel. Her carefully planned outfit seemingly lost forever, Hana Sofia bought a dress at the last minute in New York and boarded the plane to Canada.

After landing in Montreal, Hana Sofia went straight to the airline’s information desk to file the baggage claim in person.

“I really thought to myself, ‘You know, I’m going to explode,'” she recalls. “But on the other hand, I’m also a yogi, so I also believe in karma.”

Hana Sofia knew that her lost luggage – misplaced somewhere on the way from Europe to the US – was not the fault of an airport worker in Canada. So as she approached the counter, she subdued her anger.

“I just start by saying, ‘Listen, what I’m about to say is nothing personal. It’s really just against your company, against the company you work for,” recalls Hana Sofia.

As she spoke, Hana Sofia’s frustration showed not as anger but as tears, and she found herself getting emotional as she poured out the details.

lost luggage friendship1

Hana Sofia spent a week in New York City without her luggage.

Courtesy of Hana Sofia Lopes

On the other side of the airport counter was Azalia Claudine Becerril Angulo, a part-time airport worker in her mid-20s who has lived in Montreal all her life.

Azalia listened to the story, and found herself imagining how she would feel if she were the crying stranger.

“She was very sad, angry too, and I understood why,” Azalia tells CNN Travel.

“I wanted to help her. Normally people are rude and they are very aggressive. She was different.”

Azalia looked up the reference number for the lost bag, but it wasn’t good news – the screen said the bag was in Frankfurt, Germany.

Hana Sofia heard this and cleared her throat.

“I’m here to shoot a movie and tomorrow there’s a reception with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, which is my home country,” she explained. “I don’t even have makeup to put on my face. I don’t even have face cream. I have nothing.”

Azalia turned from the computer.

“Wait, do you need makeup? I’m a makeup artist, I can do your makeup for you,” she offered.

Hana Sofia was completely taken aback, but Azalia continued and explained that when she wasn’t working at the airport, she was a professional makeup artist.

“If you want, I can come to your hotel in the afternoon and do your hair and makeup so you can attend the reception,” she said. “If I were you, I’d be freaking out too. So I really want to do it for free.”

Both confused and moved, Hana Sofia said yes, and the two women exchanged numbers.

Azalia says she had no qualms about helping Hana Sofia.

“I really trusted her,” she says. “It’s really about her vibe and the connection we had.”

Hana Sofia felt the same way.

“I could tell from the way she talked and also the way she acted that she was really, really honest,” she says of Azalia.

Forming a connection

lost luggage friendship3

Here is Azalia in Hana Sofia’s hotel room with her makeup kit.

Courtesy of Hana Sofia Lopes

The next day, Azalia arrived at Hana Sofia’s hotel, and as Azalia started work, the two women began to chat about their lives.

Hana Sofia talked about how she felt both nervous and excited for the reception that night, while Azalia talked about splitting her time between the airport and her makeup career.

They alternated between French, English and Spanish – both women are fluent in several languages.

“While she was putting on make-up, it was very natural,” says Hana Sofia. “It didn’t feel like I was just meeting someone for the first time. It felt like I was meeting an old friend, which is crazy, because I just met her the day before, but we talked a lot.”

As an actress, Hana Sofia spends a lot of time in the make-up chair. She knows what she likes and doesn’t like, but she absolutely loved the look Azalia put together.

“She did a great, great job,” she says.

Hana Sofia’s only hesitation was Azalia’s insistence on making the service free. But Azalia was resolute.

“Makeup to me, it’s an art, it’s really a passion,” says Azalia. “So it’s not about the money. It’s just because I really like to make the person feel good and happy.”

To top it off, the same day Hana heard Sofia from the airline. Her lost purse was not in Frankfurt after all. It had been tracked down and was on its way to her hotel in Montreal.

At that moment, Hana Sofia says she felt like Azalia was a real fairy godmother.

“She is not only a great person, she is also very good at her job because she was able to find my luggage,” says Hana Sofia.

A friend in Montreal

Cut to the present day and Hana Sofia is back in Europe for the holidays. She will return to Montreal to film in the New Year, when she plans to meet Azalia for dinner and drinks.

The two women have kept in touch and sent messages back and forth regularly.

“She has a friend in Montreal,” Azalia says of Hana Sofia. “Anything she needs, I’ll be there.”

Both women say their unlikely connection illustrates the importance of openness and empathy, especially at the airport, where people are often stressed and laser-focused on their own journey.

“People need to be a little more understanding that the person in front of them, they don’t have control over what happened,” Azalia says. “So if they’re patient and really calm about it, the person up front will help you as best we can.”

“It’s not about the makeup. Of course, if I didn’t wear makeup, it’s not the end of the world,” says Hana Sofia.

“It’s much more about how little we do such things. We don’t often stop to think about how the other person is feeling or how the other person is experiencing something. We just do our own thing and we don’t care, unfortunately, that’s the way it goes. And in her situation, she really didn’t. And that’s what’s extraordinary.”

Top photo: Hana Sofia Lopes, front, pictured after Azalia Claudine Becerril Angulo, back, did her makeup in Montreal. Credit: Hana Sofia Lopes

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