Pilot turns plane around for grieving family headed to Memphis for funeral

Pilot Turns Plane Around For Grieving Family Who Missed Last Flight To Father’s Funeral

A Delta pilot risked getting in trouble with his employer when he did something unprecedented and against the rules. Captain Adam Cohen reportedly believed that it was the right thing to do when he chose to turn his plane around to help a grieving family get to a funeral.

Jay W. Short, 56, passed away on Dec. 16 after a five-month battle with lung cancer, ABC News reported. The body of the father of three and husband to Marcia Short was flown to his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee on Dec. 19; the services were scheduled for the next day, The New York Daily News reported.

Marcia and her three kids set out on the Saturday before Jay’s funeral, flying from their home in Phoenix, Arizona to Minneapolis and then on to Memphis to say goodbye. When they landed in Minnesota, they needed to board their next airplane, said his daughter, Nicole Short-Wibel.

“This was our last chance to say goodbye to my dad and if we missed the flight we would [have] missed the funeral.”

Unfortunately, the family had a spate of bad luck that day. Their first airplane out of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport to Minneapolis was delayed by 90 minutes. They only had 10 minutes to catch their connecting flight to Memphis, the family told KSAZ.

And it was the very last flight leaving the city that day. It was their last chance to make it to Tennessee and say goodbye to Jay.

The family ran to the gate and arrived just as the door to the jetway closed. They were too late. The plane was on its way to the runway and airport workers told them they wouldn’t make it on board, the tower wouldn’t let the plane turn around, and there was nothing anyone could do.

Understandably, the Shorts were devastated, Marcia later wrote on Facebook.

“My son and I are waving our arms at the pilots and the ground crew as my two daughters are crying their eyes out. We are pleading for them to not take off. If we did not get on that flight we would miss the funeral. We had to get to Memphis.”

The pilot saw their tears as they cried at the airport window. He told KSAZ that he saw their desperation and sadness and knew that the family missed their last flight to bury their beloved husband and father.

The pilot decided to do something that just doesn’t happen at airports, except maybe in the movies: he decided to turn the plane around. Marcia was consoling her distraught daughters when the news came.

An airport employee got the call and passed on the news that the pilot wanted to turn the plane around to pick the Shorts up.

“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,” Nicole Short said. “But these ones were happy tears.”

Cohen made the decision to turn the plane around on his own. His employer Endeavor Air, which is owned by Delta Airlines, has noticed, calling it a “special circumstance is a great reflection of the human touch we want all … customers to experience when flying with us.”

An airline analyst explained that the pilot risked the “censure of his company” with this heart-warming action, because airlines’ most important concern is departure records. Cohen seemingly thought it was worth the risk.

“This is something we’ll take with us, knowing we made a difference. Little moments like this to us are big to these customers and keep them coming back to Delta, but at the end of the day, it also keeps us going.”

[Photo By verzellenberg/Shutterstock]