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

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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.

Each 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 brush for my hair. No makeup. No socks. Nothing. Just me and my purse,” she tells CNN Travel.

Hana Sofia, a Luxembourg-born actor of Portuguese descent in her early thirties, made a stopover in New York City in October 2022 to catch up with a friend. Her final destination was Canada, where she started producing a movie.

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

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

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

Hana Sofia knew that her misplaced luggage—lost somewhere on the way from Europe to the US—wasn’t the fault of an airport worker in Canada. So as she approached the counter, she tempered 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,'” Hana Sofia recalls.

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

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 sat Azalia Claudine Becerril Angulo, a part-time airport worker in her mid-twenties who has lived in Montreal all her life.

Azalia listened to the story and imagined how she would feel if she were the crying stranger.

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

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

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

Hearing this, Hana Sofia deflated.

“I’m here to shoot a movie and tomorrow there’s a reception with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, my home country,” 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.”

Azalia turned away 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 surprised, but Azalia went ahead 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 your reception,” she said. “If I were in your place, I’d go crazy too. So I really want to do it for free.”

Both stunned and moved, Hana Sofia agreed and the two women exchanged numbers.

Azalia says she had no reservations 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 felt from the way she talked and also from the way she behaved that she was very, very honest,” she says of Azalia.

Form 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 when Azalia went to work, the two women started talking about their lives.

Hana Sofia shared how she felt both nervous and excited about the evening’s reception, while Azalia shared what it’s like to divide her time between the airport and her makeup career.

They switched between French, English and Spanish — both women are fluent in several languages.

“While she was doing the makeup, it was very natural,” says Hana Sofia. “It didn’t feel like meeting anyone for the first time. It felt like meeting an old friend, which is crazy because I just met her the day before, but we were talking a lot.”

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

“She did a great job,” she says.

Hana Sofia’s only hesitation was Azalia’s insistence on doing the service for free. But Azalia was firm.

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

To top it off, Hana learned Sofia from the airline that same day. Her lost bag wasn’t in Frankfurt after all. It had been tracked down and was on its way to her hotel in Montreal.

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

“Not only is she a great person, she’s really good at her job because she managed to find my luggage,” says Hana Sofia.

A friend in Montreal

Back to the present and Hana Sofia is back in Europe for the holidays. She will return to Montreal for filming in the new year, when she plans to meet Azalia for dinner and drinks.

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

“She has a boyfriend in Montreal,” says Azalia 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 focused on their own journey.

“People need to understand a little bit more that the person in front of them has no control over what happened,” Azalia says. “So if they’re patient and very calm about it, the person at the front will help you as best they can.”

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

“It’s much more about how little we do this stuff. We don’t often stop to think about how the other person might be feeling or how the other person might be experiencing something. We’re just doing our own thing and we’re not doing it doesn’t matter, unfortunately, that’s how it goes. And in her situation she really didn’t. And that’s extraordinary.”

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

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