Alex Hamberger was flying the friendly skies this week to visit his infant niece several states away—a trip made friendlier after American Airlines dropped the change fee issued when he had to cancel his original flight, CNN reports. The Buffalo man has already managed to see his now-8-month-old niece, Mia, three times since she was born in September, even though she lives in Kansas City, per WIVB. "She just makes the best faces," he gushes. But his latest visit was postponed in March when he became ill and his doctor recommended he cancel his trip. Hamberger's ticket was nonrefundable, which meant he'd be hit with a change fee of about $200—so he whipped out pen and paper and wrote a cheerful letter to American. "Dear most kind and benevolent American Airlines Customer Service staff member, I write to you with the hopes that you may take mercy on me," it begins.
He continued his funny note (there was even a Golden Girls reference) by documenting his disappointing diagnosis and acknowledging the airline might have "356 reasons you can't refund [the change fee] to me," but asking for it anyway—even sending along a bunch of photos of him and Mia. His signature may have clinched the deal: "With gratitude, Alex Hamberger, Frequent Flyer, Brother, Uncle, Formerly sick person, Currently healthy person, Grateful Flyer." Finally, he sent his note via the old-fashioned postal service. His tactic worked, with an airline rep informing him the fee would be dropped and writing of his niece, "She sure is a lucky little girl to have such a loving Uncle Al!" Hamberger tells WIVB the reply "just brightened my whole day, and even the days since then." (Another heartwarming airline story: When these babies cried, passengers clapped.)