Loved ones of the victims travelled with the airline on Wednesday, flying from Dublin to San Francisco International Airport.
It is understood the national carrier went “above and beyond” to help the grieving passengers in any way possible. It refused to sell newspapers on board, as a mark of respect; internet access was made available so relatives could keep up to date on the situation in Berkeley; and those affected were allowed to disembark first.
Jonathan Wallace from Dublin was so moved by the airline’s sensitivity, he posted a public message on Aer Lingus’ Facebook page.
“I hear this morning of your compassion, care, sympathy and utmost professionalism, yet again. You’ve been helping fly the families of those poor kids in Berkeley, California out to the States,” he wrote.
“I have heard of two wonderful stories already today, about what you’ve done for the grieving families. I cannot speak highly enough of you.
“Your assistance for poor Karen Buckley was immense, and you’re doing it again now.”
Jonathan’s remarks were so heartfelt the post received more than 70,000 likes and more than 5,000 shares.
It also started a chain reaction, with the public posting more messages of praise on the Aer Lingus Facebook page, and telling their own stories of good treatment by the airline.
Karen O’Neill of Dublin posted about how the carrier helped her family avoid a huge bill when rescheduling flights for her father’s surgery, while Sarah Brennan Bivins said it waived a fee of $2,500 for her last year.
“They waived the airfare for me to fly my uncle’s body back from NY to Ireland last year,” she wrote. “Aer Lingus helped me and I got him back home. Thank you.”
Hundreds of others posted similar stories, while even more said they were not surprised to hear the airline has been “quietly helping passengers for years”.
Earlier this year, Aer Lingus helped the family of Karen Buckley to bring the student’s remains home, chartering a special plane for them.
Responding to the affectionate outpouring on Facebook, Aer Lingus thanked the public for the “kind words”, saying it was “glad to be of some assistance” and that thoughts “continue to be with the families affected”.