Strangers road trip from Tampa to Cleveland after canceled flight, TikTok's go viral
TAMPA, Fla. - Winter weather is canceling and delaying flights all across the country, but a group headed to Ohio was determined to get there for Christmas – no matter what it took.
Thursday, their flight from Tampa to Cleveland got canceled, so four strangers teamed up, rented a car, and made the long drive.
They documented the whole thing on TikTok. People around the world got to join them for the ride and, perhaps, witness the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
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When Bridget, Abby, Shobi, and Greg checked in for Frontier flight 2436 from Tampa to Cleveland Thursday morning, they had no clue it was about to be a road trip.
"I saw them making an announcement, and I heard that the flight was canceled," said Greg Henry.
The next flight wasn't until Saturday night, cutting it too close to Christmas for comfort.
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"That's when I saw the people," said Henry. "I said, ‘were you on the Cleveland flight?’ They said, ‘yeah.’ I said, 'I'm probably going to get a rental car because even if there is a flight, it'll probably be $800.' I'm like, ‘are you guys going with me?’"
So, four stranded strangers hopped into a car and began the more than 16-hour, 1,100-mile drive north.
"We started talking about some cities we grew up in trying to find some common ground," Henry said. "We all got along great, very respectful of each other, so we had a good time singing songs."
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"One girl said 'I'm just going to document this on my TikTok,'" Henry said. "I'm like, 'that's fine, I don't care.' A little later, she said ‘we have like 50,000 views,’ and I'm like, ‘really?’"
The internet was invested. Is this a Hallmark movie in the making or the start of a true-crime documentary? Pretty soon, 50,000 views grew to millions.
"You're never taught to get into a car with strangers," Henry said. "But that's exactly what we did. We just found common ground, and we all had a common goal. We all got along great."
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After stopping at Chipotle, Bridget, a St. Pete law student said in a TikTok, "so far no serial killer vibes." But a slip did leave Shobi with a battle scar on his elbow.
"His burrito bowl went all over the pavement," Henry said.
They stopped in Virginia for coffee. With six hours to go, the storm wasn't looking good. But by early Friday morning, they made it to snowy Ohio.
"Once we finally hit our home state, that's when we started seeing the snow. Our speed had to drop dramatically," Henry said.
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The internet demanded more. Who are these endearing strangers? They obliged with a Full House-style introduction.
"I had no idea this was going to be what it is," Henry said. "She was saying people want to know our story, people from all over the country."
By 8:45 a.m., they made it to Cleveland, safe and sound. Their loyal supporters celebrated with them commenting, "y'all better stay friends after this," and asking, "has anyone fallen in love??"
"We will hang out together again and probably do dinner," Henry said.
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No romance, but this group now shares a bond like no other and a story to tell at every holiday gathering.
"It was a long trip, but the memories we have, the stories we share, life is very short. We're never guaranteed tomorrow. And it was just a really cool thing to be a part of," Henry said.
Believe it or not, Henry said he's never seen the movie ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles,’ but you can bet he's heard the reference a few times in the last two days. He said all four of them may meet up someday to watch it together.