Man talks about ‘enjoying the ride’ after near-solo flight goes viral

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CLEVELAND - It's a picture seen around the globe taken on a plane at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, and Fox 8 News spoke with the passenger at the center of it.

“It's just been a crazy, crazy, couple of days,” Chris O’Leary told Fox 8 News via Skype from his office in New York City. “It's been overwhelming. I never expected the simple act of getting on the plane I was supposed to get on to spread so virally across the Internet.”

Weather caused Delta to cancel O'Leary's flight home from Cleveland Monday morning.  When he finally got to the gate for his re-scheduled flight later that day, he got a surprise.

“I was immediately shocked,” O’Leary said. “It came right when the gate agent said, "Oh, I have to go tell the crew we have one.”

While O’Leary waited out the delay at his hotel, Delta rebooked the flight’s other passengers on earlier flights, leaving O’Leary as the lone flyer. Delta needed to get the plane to LaGuardia, regardless of who was flying.

“It felt good. I was able to recline fully and sit in first class, which was pretty great,” O’Leary said, adding he received a personal safety instruction from flight attendants.

He took a photo inside the empty plane that quickly went viral after he posted it on social media. It was picked up by media outlets across the globe, even landing O’Leary as the butt of late night talk show jokes.

As the plane pulled away, a second passenger showed up, and the plane returned to the gate. “Then, the dream of flying alone was ruined,” O’Leary joked.

O’Leary works in advertising but was in Cleveland checking out the local brewery scene for his side-job running the craft beer web site “Brew York.” (brewyork.beer)

He was a bit of a loner his entire weekend in Cleveland. O’Leary also posted pictures on Twitter as the sole passenger on an RTA rapid train and at the Tower City station.

“Apparently people don’t like to be around me when I'm traveling,” he said.

O’Leary said the trip has taught him about much more than local beer. He’s learned a lesson in the power of the internet.

“I know these moments of fame are fleeting,” he said. “I'm just kind of enjoying the ride.”

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