Pilot Turns Plane Around When He Learns Kids Missed Flight to Attend Dad's Funeral

delta airplaneWhen the Short family missed their connecting flight by minutes, it was particularly devastating. Marcia Short was on her way to the funeral of her husband of 32 years, the father of her children. But when the Delta pilot learned of the situation, he turned the plane around to pick up the family.


Mr. Short was from Phoenix, Arizona, but wanted to be buried in Tennessee where other relatives were also laid to rest. The 56-year-old father lost his battle with lung cancer. His body was flown to Memphis the day before the funeral and his wife and daughters boarded a flight the next day. But the family's first flight was delayed and so when they reached Minneapolis to get their connecting flight, they ended up just missing that plane. 

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Missing a plane is awful, but under these circumstances, it's even worse. I cannot imagine how this family was feeling -- the sadness of losing their dad -- the wife's heartbreak from losing her husband -- and then more heartache over not being able to be there to mourn. Apparently daughter Nicole was yelling and moving her arms around in the window in an attempt to get the pilot's attention as he was backing out of the boarding area. The family also begged the attendant at the gate to get the plane to stop and allow them to board, but they were told that nothing could be done. They were in tears.

I understand why they were told nothing could be done. There are rules in place and planes do need to leave on time to maintain order. But rules sometimes need to be broken.

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The attendants spoke to the pilot about what was happening -- he did see Nicole in the window trying to get his attention. That pilot, Captain Adam Cohen of Endeavor Air (a Delta Airlines subsidiary), wanted to return to the gate to pick up the grieving family, who were all in tears attempting to console each other. Those tears then turned to tears of joy.

Daughter Nicole told The Daily News, "When the phone rang at the desk and she said it was the pilot who insisted on bringing that plane back to the gate to let us on more tears came. But these ones were happy tears."

This act of kindness by Captain Adam Cohen is a beautiful thing -- he risked grumbling passengers and complaints to help the Short family in a time they really needed someone to help them out. This pilot and everyone involved at Delta in getting this family to Tennessee have set a beautiful example of how there is love and compassion in this world, and that we can also do kind things -- big and small -- for others. In a time of such sadness, this family was able to smile.


Image via Mark Harkin/Flickr

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