Blog entry

How an Airline helped someone in their hour of need

8.) United Airlines Delays Flight for Dying Mother

It’s always heart-wrenching when a close family member passes. Sharing the final moments with a person we love can be a small respite in a truly difficult situation.

When Kerry Drake got on his United Airline flight, the mother he was en route to see was facing her final hours. To add an extra layer of distress, Drake knew that if he missed his connecting flight he would likely not see her before she passed.

After his first flight got delayed, Drake broke down into tears on the plane. The flight attendants soon noticed his state and quickly found out what was wrong. Within minutes, Drake’s dilemma was relayed to the captain, who radioed ahead to Drake’s next flight. The flight’s crew responded by delaying the flight’s departure to make sure he got on board. The result of many staff members working together to go above-and-beyond the call of duty to help this customer was that Drake made it to the hospital in time to see his mother.

“At one point she opened her eyes, and I think she recognized me,” said Drake, who spent the night at the hospital. “Around 4 a.m. she had a real moment of coherence, a last rally, although we didn’t know it at the time. It was the last time.”

Drake wrote the staff a heartfelt thank you letter expressing his immense gratitude for a team who was willing to pull together and pull out all the stops to assist in any way they could.

In the coverage of this story on CNN, consumer advocate Christopher Elliot said:

“Airline employees are evaluated based on their ability to keep a schedule. Airlines compete with each other on who has the best on-time departure record.

When the crew on this flight heard about this distraught passenger trying to make his connection, they must have said, ‘To hell with it’… and they made the right call.

We think so, too.

Just going that little bit further makes such a difference to your customer. That is all about delivering customer service that you do not have to publish it is your customers that will talk about it.