A Vancouver woman who found herself stranded at an airport in California holding only a cancelled plane ticket is publicly thanking an Alaska Airlines employee who used her own money to help fly her home.

In a series of tweets, Miriam Thomas described her irritation after her flight from Vancouver to Ontario, Calif. was delayed several times, and then her return flight home was cancelled outright without her knowledge.

Thomas says the airline told her that the best they could do for her was put her on another flight sometime the next day.

While an employee with Delta's social media team tried to track down the problem, another airline, Alaska Airlines, noticed the Twitter exchange and offered to help.

An hour later, Thomas announced that an employee with Alaska Airlines had bought her a ticket home -- using her own money.

Thomas told another Twitter user it took her a minute to realize that the Alaska Airlines employee was using her own money for the ticket, saying the worker wanted to help her by "paying it forward."

Thomas said it was that kind gesture that allowed her to get home quickly rather than spend another night in a hotel.

Thomas tells CTVNews.ca that since news of the incident spread, she's been able to find the Alaska Airlines employee who helped her, Judy, and will be reaching out to her to thank her personally.

Thomas also says she hopes to be able to "pay it forward" herself one day to a stranger. While she doesn't yet know how, she expects it will happen "organically."

Delta Airlines spokesperson Brian Kruse says the airline is still gathering information on the circumstances of the incident, but he says they want to apologize to Thomas for the inconvenience she experienced.

He also said the airline will be contacting Thomas directly to offer her a full refund on her ticket price.