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‘My Parents Were Supposed To Be On A Flight That Every Single Passenger Died On’ — The Miraculous Reason They Didn’t Board The Plane

Photo: Herbert Pictures / Canva Pro
airplane on tarmac

All of us have had those near-miss moments that in hindsight seem like they could have altered our lives. Heck, as those of us of a certain age will remember, Gwyneth Paltrow made a whole movie about it in the 90s, called "Sliding Doors."

For one woman, however, her parents' near-miss was monumental and it quite literally saved their lives. 

The woman's parents narrowly missed a deadly plane crash in 2000 that had no survivors. 

On January 31, 2000, Alaska Airlines flight 261 was flying from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Seattle, Washington when it suddenly crashed into the Pacific Ocean about 10 miles off the coast of Point Hueneme, California due to a catastrophic loss of pitch control due to equipment failures.

All 88 people aboard — two pilots, three cabin crew members, and 83 passengers — perished in the accident. Both pilots were posthumously awarded medals for heroism for their efforts to save the plane by rolling the plane upside down in an attempt to slow its fall to the ocean, a last-ditch effort that inspired the 2012 Denzel Washington film "Flight."

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But the death toll of flight 261 might have been 90 if not for a turn of events for TikToker @annanoellll's parents that ended up saving their lives. 

Anna shared that her mother was stricken with what turned out to be morning sickness right before their departure on flight 261. 

"My parents were supposed to be on a flight that every single passenger died on," Anna said in a TikTok about her parents' story. "My parents had gone to Mexico very, very often because they were planning on moving out there," she said, "so going on an international trip was nothing to be ever concerned about."

   

   

The morning of January 31st, however, was different. "This particular morning, my mom got extremely, extremely sick, and my dad chalked it up to being anxiety," she said. But her mother knew in her gut that it was something else. 

Their tickets were non-refundable, so her dad was extra invested in making the flight. "But my mom is so sick, she is throwing up," Anna said. "There's no way she can travel. They end up missing the flight, and I'm sure my dad was probably a little bit annoyed, but soon he would be very thankful."

It turned out that her mother was pregnant and was suffering intense morning sickness. "Though my mom did end up losing the baby," Anna said. "That baby's purpose was to save my mom and my dad's life. And then they had me." 

miraculous reason parents didn't board flight that every passenger died onPhoto: Vladimir Konoplev / Canva Pro

Anna summed up the story as being a "reminder" that if "something happens to disrupt plans you already had, maybe it's for a reason."

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Incidents like this are a well-known phenomenon called the 'burnt toast theory.'

The "burnt toast theory," which became a TikTok trend earlier this year, is the idea that small inconveniences that disrupt your plans are often saving you from even bigger troubles. 

The name comes from the way burning your toast might add a minute or two to your morning routine. You burn your toast, you have to remake it, and now suddenly you're going out the door a few minutes later than you normally would. Or maybe you spill your purse on your way out the door. Maybe someone gets in your way and prevents you from boarding the subway train you need, like Gwyneth in "Sliding Doors."

   

   

Whatever the case, the theory goes that those few minutes, or maybe even seconds, that reoriented your course just might have saved you from something far worse than burnt toast. 

It's also become popular as a way to parse the parts of life over which we have no control, and to put a positive spin on the negative things that happen to us. A sort of "everything happens for a reason" view. 

It can't prevent everything bad that befalls us, of course. But it does highlight the value of just trying to go with the flow a bit more when mishaps or negative situations arise. You never know — it just might have a purpose.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.