Bernie LaPlante (Dustin Hoffman) is a pickpocket and petty criminal who anonymously rescues survivors including TV reporter Gale Gayley (Geena Davis) at an Accidents and incidents in aviation. His motives are not "pure" as he enters the burning plane in order to steal some of the passengers' purses and wallets, losing a shoe in the process. After finding his car is towed away from the crash scene, he flags down John Bubber (Andy Garcia), a homeless Vietnam veteran, and tells him about the rescue at the crash site, giving him his remaining shoe. When Deke (Chevy Chase), the television station news director, offers $1 million to the "Angel of Flight 104", Bernie realizes he can't claim the reward, due to his arrest while fence (criminal) credit cards he stole from the people he rescued. John, however, contacts Gale, recounting Bernie's tale of the rescue and provides the single shoe to take credit for the selfless act.