Delta Pilot Turns Plane Around So Family Won’t Miss Dad’s Funeral

It would have been easy for a Delta pilot to continue down the runway to head to his next location. However, in an act of kindness rarely heard of anymore, he decided to turn his plane around and help a family who were desperately trying to get to Tennessee to attend their dad’s funeral.

According to ABC News, an Arizona family were faced with a typical dilemma in mid-December when they entered the airport: a flight delay. While a delayed flight may not have normally been that big of a deal, for this particular family, it was devastating. The family was attempting to travel to Tennessee to attend the funeral of Jay W. Short, a 56-year-old husband, and father-of-three who passed away on December 16 after losing a five-month battle with lung cancer. Short’s body had been flown to Tennessee on December 19, and his funeral was to be the next morning.

“This was our last chance to say goodbye to my dad and if we missed the flight we would [have] missed the funeral,” Nicole Short-Wibel, Jay’s daughter, said.

The family arrived at the Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport on Saturday, only to find out that their flight had been pushed back 90 minutes, and the only other flight headed to Memphis that day was a connecting flight in Minneapolis, which was leaving in seven minutes. Although they dashed to the boarding gate, they were too late and were left standing there with the realization that they wouldn’t get to bid their final farewells to their father as the plane made its way down the runway.

“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,” Marcia Short, Jay’s wife of 32 years, wrote in a Facebook post on her daughter’s page. “If we did not get on that flight we would miss the funeral. We had to get to Memphis.”

The Delta pilot, Capt. Adam Cohen, saw the family through the airport windows, waving their arms to get his attention, and decided to do something completely unexpected. The pilot turned the plane around so that the family could come aboard and make it to the funeral. Cohen, who flies for Endeavor Air, a regional airline carrier owned by Delta Air Lines, called a Delta employee to tell them that he was coming back for them, as Marcia was consoling her daughters, according to the New York 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,” Nicole Short said. “But these ones were happy tears.”

“This Pilot deserves more praise than my family can give him,” she continued. “[I] hope others reading this will think twice and spread more kindness around.”

Cohen’s act of kindness has gained national attention, and recognition from his employer. In a statement, a Delta spokesperson said: “This Endeavor Air pilot’s decision to return to the gate in this special circumstance is a great reflection of the human touch we want all Delta customers to experience when flying with us.”

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