For some, air travel can be daunting, and for one mother on a journey from Oklahoma City to Chicago, her “worst fear” materialized in the form of an unwelcoming fellow passenger.

Savannah Phillips has a preference for occupying an entire row when flying. It’s not because she dislikes socializing; rather, as she explained in a Facebook post, it’s because of her fear of being judged.

“I’m neither the largest nor the smallest person on the plane, but I’m not the smallest either,” Savannah shared. “My biggest fear is inconveniencing someone because they have to sit next to me.”

Then came the moment when Savannah found herself unable to select her seat and was instead placed next to an elderly man sporting yellow sunglasses.

Seizing the opportunity, Savannah took the window seat as the man graciously stood up. He appeared to be in his fifties and introduced himself as a comedian. However, his subsequent actions were anything but humorous.

Even before the aircraft began taxiing, the passenger revealed his true colors.

“As the flight attendant commenced the safety briefing, he pulled out his phone” (with a large font and the screen brightness cranked up to the maximum). His phone, positioned about a foot away from my face, displayed a text message to someone stating that he was seated next to “a smelly fatty.”

Savannah was caught off guard and understandably distressed by the cruel message. In fact, she couldn’t even bring herself to finish reading it.

“I couldn’t make out the rest of his message.” I turned my head away as fast as I could. It was shocking, confirming the negative thoughts I often had about myself. Before I knew it, hot tears were streaming down my cheeks. I sat there quietly sobbing, hoping the man wouldn’t try to engage in small talk because I wasn’t sure how I would respond and didn’t want to risk being thrown off the plane. “I was devastated.”

Fortunately, another passenger seated nearby noticed what was happening.

Chase Irwin from Nashville also caught sight of the man’s appalling message and could see that Savannah was upset by it. He quickly took a brief video of the man and shared it on social media with the caption:

“This guy just texted his wife that he’s about to vomit because he’s sitting next to a stinky overweight person.” “I saw her read his text and now she looks sad.”

He wasn’t going to stand idly by.

Chase’s heart sank as he watched Savannah cry in her seat. He, too, told Inside Edition that he felt “sick to his stomach.” Chase acted like a hero in disguise during this ordeal.

Chase reached out and tapped the man’s shoulder, saying, “Hey, I need to talk to you.”

The man immediately removed his earbuds, and Chase told him, “We’re swapping seats.”

According to Savannah, the man was puzzled as to why he was being asked to switch seats, but Chase clarified:

“You’re texting about her, and I’m not going to tolerate it.”

He truly became her hero.

Chase took a seat next to Savannah, put his arm around her, and tried to comfort her after the insults. She later wrote:

“He told me not to let that person get to me and assured me that everything would be okay.” We talked about Ross and the kids, his two-year-old son, and our jobs, among other things.

Continuing, she said:

“I expressed my gratitude and told him that what he did meant the world to me—and that he was now my husband’s new favorite person.” The flight attendant kept offering him free drinks and telling him he was her hero. He wasn’t hers; he was mine.”

Savannah’s story gained widespread attention when she shared the kind act of the Good Samaritan on Facebook.

The mother thanked Chase for being her guardian angel on the plane, and many others praised him. One person wrote:

“Thank you for being the gentleman and hero that you are, Chase! Savannah, you are beautiful, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Keep your head held high and stay strong!”

Another commented:

“This story gives me hope that we can change how we perceive people based on their appearance.” This guy is a wonderful example of how we, as individuals, can contribute to bringing about change!

In the video below, Savannah and Chase discuss the incident with Inside Edition. Thank goodness for compassionate strangers in our world!