(CNN) – It’s been seven days since her arrival in New York City, and Hana Sofia Lopez’s luggage is still missing.
Each morning, Hana Sophia called the airline for updates and hung up increasingly frustrated, still without baggage.
Hana Sophia, a Luxembourg-born actress of Portuguese descent in her early 30s, was stopping in New York City in October 2022 to catch up with a friend. Her end point was Canada, where she began making a film.
Arriving in Montreal, Hana Sophia was scheduled to attend a prestigious industry event, where she was chatting with cinema legends and Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel. Her carefully planned outfit seemingly lost forever, Hana Sophia bought a last minute dress in New York and caught the flight to Canada.
After the plane landed in Montreal, Hana Sophia went straight to the airline’s information desk to file her baggage complaint in person.
“I was really thinking to myself, ‘You know, I’m going to explode,'” she recalls. “But on the other hand, I’m a yogi too, so I also believe in karma.”
Hana Sophia knew her lost luggage – lost somewhere en route from Europe to the US – wasn’t the fault of an airport worker in Canada. So when she approached the counter, she let down her anger.
“I start by saying, ‘Listen, what I’m going to say is nothing personal,'” Hannah Sophia recalls. It’s really against your company, and against the company you work for.”
As she spoke, Hana Sophia’s frustration did not manifest itself in anger, but in tears, and she found herself swaying with emotion as she recounted the details.
Hana Sophia spent a week in New York City without her luggage.
Courtesy of Hana Sophia Lopez
Across the airport desk was Azalea Claudine Becerril Angulo, a part-time airport worker in her mid-20s who has lived in Montreal her whole life.
Azalea listened to the story, and found herself imagining how it would feel if she were the crying stranger.
“She was really sad, angry as well, and I get why,” Azalea told CNN Travel.
“I wanted to help her. Usually people are very rude and aggressive. She was different.”
Azalea looked up the missing luggage reference number but it wasn’t good news – the screen said the suitcase was in Frankfurt, Germany.
Hearing this, Hana Sophia gasped for breath.
“I am here to shoot a movie, and tomorrow there is a reception with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, which is my motherland,” she explained. “I don’t even have makeup to put on my face. I don’t even have face cream. I don’t have anything.”
Azalea is back from the computer.
She said “Wait, do you want make-up? I’m a make-up artist, I can do your make-up for you”.
Hanna-Sofia was completely stunned, but Azalea went on, explaining that when she wasn’t working at the airport, she was a professional makeup artist.
She said “If you want, I can come to your hotel in the afternoon and do your hair and make-up so you can come to the reception”. “If I were you, I’d be freaking out too. So I really want to do it for free.”
Confused and moved, Hana Sophia agreed, and the two women exchanged numbers.
Azalea says she had no reservations about helping Hanna-Sofia.
“I really trusted her,” she says. “It really has to do with her vivacity and the connection we had.”
Hana Sophia felt the same way.
“I just felt the way she was talking as well as the way she acted that she was really sincere,” she says of Azalea.
Here is Azalea in the Hana Sofia hotel room with her makeup kit.
Courtesy of Hana Sophia Lopez
Azalea arrives the next day at the Hana Sophia Hotel, and as Azalea gets down to business, the two women begin to talk about their lives.
HannaSofia spoke of feeling both nervous and excited about the reception that evening, while Azalea talked about what it’s like to split her time between the airport and her makeup career.
They switched between French, English and Spanish – both women are fluent in multiple languages.
“While I was wearing makeup, it was very natural,” says Hanna-Sofia. “It didn’t feel like I was meeting someone for the first time. I felt like I was meeting up with an old friend, which was crazy, because I had just met her the day before, but we’d been talking a lot.”
As an actress, Hana Sophia spends a lot of time in the makeup chair. She knows her likes and dislikes, but she absolutely loved the look Azalea pulled together.
“She did an amazing, wonderful job,” she says.
Hana Sophia’s only hesitation was Azalea’s insistence that she perform the service for free. But Azalea was resolute.
“Makeup to me is an art, it’s really a passion,” says Azalea. “So it’s not about the money. It’s just because I really like to make someone feel good and happy.”
To top it off, that same day, Hannah Sophia heard from the airline. Her missing suitcase wasn’t in Frankfurt after all. He was tracked down and was on his way to her Montreal hotel.
At that moment, HannaSofia said she felt like Azalea was a real godmother.
“Not only is she a great human being, she’s also really good at her job because she was able to find my bags,” says Hana-Sophia.
friend in Montreal
Cut to present day and Hana Sophia will be back in Europe for the holidays. She’ll be back in Montreal for the shoot in the new year, when she plans to meet up with Azalea for dinner and drinks.
The two women kept in touch and texted regularly.
“She has a boyfriend in Montreal,” says Azalea of HannaSofia. “Anything you need, I’ll be there.”
The two women say their unlikely relationship illustrates the importance of openness and empathy, especially at the airport, where people are often nervous and laser-focused on their flight.
“People need to be more understanding that the person in front of them, they have no control over what happened,” says Azalea. “So if they are really patient and calm about it, the person in front of you will help you as best we can.”
“It’s not about the makeup. Of course, if I don’t have makeup on, it’s not the end of the world,” says Hanna-Sofia.
“It’s more about how little we do this kind of thing. We don’t stop very often to think about how the other person might feel or how the other person might experience something. We just do our own thing and we don’t. Unfortunately, that’s how It’s going. And in her situation, she really didn’t. And that’s pretty unusual.”
Top photo: Hana Sofia Lopez, front, pictured after Azalea Claudine Becerril Angulo, back, did her makeup in Montreal. Credit: Hana Sophia Lopez
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