Pilot Turns Plane Around to Help Grieving Family
They were trying to catch the last plane to Memphis for their father's funeral
By Michael Harthorne, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2015 3:00 PM CST
A Delta pilot turned his plane around to help a grieving family get to their father's funeral.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

(Newser) – In the week before Christmas, one Delta Air Lines pilot gave a grieving Arizona family a "gift that no one else could," Tucson News Now reports. Father of three Jay Short died after a battle with lung cancer Dec. 16. Three days later, his family was attempting to fly to Tennessee for the funeral scheduled for the next morning. But a 90-minute delay at the Phoenix airport left them only seven minutes to make their connecting flight in Minnesota, according to ABC News. "This was our last chance to say goodbye to my dad, and if we missed the flight we would [have] missed the funeral," Jay's daughter says. But when they arrived at the gate, the last plane of the day to Memphis was pulling away from the gate.

"My son [was] waving his arms and pleading with the pilot through the floor to ceiling windows," News Now quotes Marcia. "I was crying and attempting to console my girls when the phone rang. The pilot was pulling back to the gate to let us board the plane." According to ABC, Capt. Adam Cohen saw the "desperation on their faces" through the gate's windows and decided to turn the plane around. Airline experts point out Cohen could have easily gotten in trouble for the unusual decision, though in this case, Delta has only praised the move. "This is something we’ll take with us, knowing we made a difference," Cohen tells ABC. (Another pilot ordered pizza for his stuck passengers.)