Pilot Turns Plane Around To Pick Up Family So They Won't Miss Their Dad's Funeral

by Valerie Williams
Image via Shutterstock

A Delta pilot turns his plane around to pick up a family on their way to their father’s funeral so they wouldn’t miss it.

The news is filled with stories of air travel gone wrong. Between seating assignments making a family’s life hell and moms being hassled by security about their pumped breast milk, it’s rare that we read a positive account. That’s what makes this story of a pilot turning a whole plane around to pick up a family about to miss their father’s funeral so incredibly wonderful.

Imagine grieving the death of a loved one and then, being forced to navigate air travel during the holidays just to get home for their funeral services. Sounds like adding multiple insults to injury, right? The Short family was having one such experience while on their way to Tennessee to attend the funeral of their father, Ray Short, who passed away last month from lung cancer. After experiencing a 90-minute delay from Phoenix to Minneapolis, they were at risk of missing their flight to Memphis and as a result, the funeral services.

Rick Short tells Fox News 2 of his ordeal trying to get Delta employees to allow him and his family to board the flight despite having only 10 minutes to do so after arriving from their delayed connection. “The lady got on the phone and said there was nothing they could do, that the tower wasn’t going to let them pull back in and my sisters and mom…sitting there in tears and I’m screaming through the glass.. all of a sudden, another phone call.”

That phone call was from an airline employee letting the family know that the pilot was going to turn the plane around after seeing the family crying and waving in desperation as the plane had begun to taxi down the runway. After seeing their sadness and hearing from a Delta employee the reason why, he knew he had to help. It’s very rare for a pilot to turn a plane around once it’s headed for take-off, but this was obviously a special situation. And a big-hearted pilot.

Short and his family were overwhelmed at what Delta did to help them get to their father’s funeral saying, “It’s very rare…someone stops and does something so kind and we need more people like that in the world.”

He is so right. Of course, it would’ve been understandable had the pilot not turned the plane around. After all, there’s fueling and flight plans to adhere to — we can’t imagine it’s an easy-breezy choice to reroute a plane full of passengers that’s already been cleared for take-off — but that’s what makes this story so noteworthy. The pilot saw a family’s pain and even though it wasn’t a terribly convenient thing to do, he let his human side take over. It’s heart-warming, to say the least.

We doubt the Shorts will ever forget this incredible act of kindness. Our sympathies to them in their loss and huge kudos to Delta for doing what they could to make things more bearable in this family’s time of need.