For the most part, when a gate agent closes the door to a plane, that’s it, you’re out of luck. But that wasn’t the case for a family traveling to a funeral via Delta Air Lines earlier this month. The pilots of the plane, which had already pulled away from the gate, returned to pick up the grieving passengers.
Tucson News Now reports that the show of compassion took place at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport in mid-December when a delay caused a family traveling to their father’s funeral in Tennessee to miss boarding their flight by just seconds.
The father, who passed away earlier in the month, had asked to be buried in Tennessee. To follow through with his wishes, the family planned the Tennessee funeral from their home in Arizona.
They booked a flight for the day before the planned funeral and things were going smoothly until they ended up sitting on the plane in Arizona for an hour after their planned takeoff.
The delay led the family to frantically race to their connecting gate at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport.
“The delay gave us seven minutes to get to the gate,” the mother says. “With only two minutes to spare, we got to the gate and the attendant was not at the podium. The sky way was pulling away from the plane.”
The woman and her children began waving at the pilot of the plane and the ground crew in hopes of getting their attention.
“We are pleading for them to not take off,” she says. “The attendant came out of the sky way and said there was nothing she could do, as the door had already been closed. We continued to plead. If we did not get on that flight, we would miss the funeral. We had to get to Memphis.”
While the woman and her son continued to wave down the pilots, and her daughters cried, the gate agent called her supervisor, who also said there was nothing they could do.
Instead, they offered to put the family on another flight to Atlanta. From there they could drive to Tennessee, but they would still likely miss the funeral.
“My son still waving his arms and pleading with the pilot through the floor to ceiling windows. I was crying and attempting to console my girls when the phone rang,” the woman said. “The pilot was pulling back to the gate to let us board the plane.”
While the family isn’t sure why the pilots chose to come back to the gate, or if they were aware of the family’s need for travel, they’re grateful either way.
“These pilots did not have to pull back to the gate,” the mother says. “Pilots Adams and Anderson of flight DL 3955 on Dec. 19 from [Minneapolis/St. Paul] to Memphis on Delta Air Lines have blessed my family and gave us a gift that no one else could. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and may you both be blessed ten fold.”
Delta pilots turn around to get family to funeral [Tucson News Now]