A flight delay nearly cost a man the chance to see his dying mother one last time. But On Jan. 24, employees at United Airlines didn’t let that happen.
Kerry Drake’s mother was dying. As first reported on Elliott.org, his brother called him to say the time had come. Drake caught the next flight – UA 667, the airline told ABC News — from San Francisco to Lubbock, Texas, with a short 40-minute layover in Houston. The flight from Houston to Lubbock was the last flight that day. He knew it was a risk, but needed to get to his mother as soon as possible.
But the first leg of the flight was delayed because of weather in Boston, where the aircraft was coming from, the airline said.
Drake was visibly upset and a flight attendant tried to comfort him. “She said she would do everything she could and brought extra napkins for my tears,” Drake told elliott.org. Another flight attendant asked him for the flight number of the next flight (the one from Houston to Lubbock) and relayed it to the captain.
When Drake landed in Houston he thought his flight to Lubbock had left the gate. As he ran toward the gate, a gate agent shouted “Mr. Drake? We’ve been expecting you.” She waved him onto the plane. Drake made it to Lubbock, and so did his luggage.
A spokesperson for United told ABC News, “A gentleman in our Houston Intercontinental operations team got the message from the pilot on the inbound flight, coordinated with our customer service and ramp teams to ensure Mr. Drake made the connecting flight, and within operations to make up time on the Houston-Lubbock flight. ”
“It’s worth noting that United employees make decisions like this every day,” the airline said. ”They have to balance the needs of customers who may be at risk of missing a connecting flight or who are delayed at security checkpoints with the needs of customers ready for an on-time departure who themselves have schedules to keep. In this scenario, everything worked well to balance all of those needs.”
Drake made it on time to say goodbye to his mother. He said that when she passed, he realized he was wiping away his tears with those extra United napkins he had been given on the way from San Francisco to Houston.