United Holds Connecting Flight So Passenger Can Get To Dying Mother

Given the current state of the airline industry and the nature of the stories that people send to us, it’s nice to hear the occasional account of airline staffers going to extra lengths to help a passenger out.

Consumer advocate Christopher Elliott has the story of a San Francisco man who had to make an unexpected trip Lubbock, TX, (via Houston) to see his mother before she passed away.

“I knew this itinerary was a risk because the stopover in Houston was only about 40 minutes, and my connecting flight was the last flight to Lubbock that day,” the man tells Elliott. “But I needed to get there as soon as possible, so I took the risk.”

Things got off to a bad start, with the flight out of SFO being delayed.

Noticing that the man was clearly worried, the United flight attendants comforted the passenger and provided the plane’s captain with the number of his connecting flight.

When he landed in Houston, he’d assumed that the Lubbock plane had already departed, but he ran to the gate where a United agent called him by name and said, “We’ve been expecting you.”

“That’s when I knew they had conspired to help me,” says the passenger. “She waved me onto the plane without looking at my boarding pass.”

The passenger’s mother passed the next day.

He recalls, “When she died, I realized I was wiping away my tears with the extra United napkins that [the flight attendant] had given me the day before.”