Airline CEO Gives Up Seat for Mom Late for Camp Pick-Up

The Delta Airlines CEO gave up his seat for a passenger.

ByGenevieve Shaw Brown
June 24, 2013, 1:56 PM

June 24, 2013 — -- Once in awhile, an airline employee does something that goes above and beyond the call of duty to help a customer. But it's probably safe to assume that none of those employees were the CEO of the airline.

But it was the CEO in the case of the mother of a 12-year-old with type 1 diabetes earlier this month, according to a Facebook post.

Richard Anderson, Delta's CEO, gave up his seat on an oversold flight, making it possible for Jessie Frank to pick her daughter up from a summer camp for diabetic kids, she said.

Delta's CEO rode in the jump seat instead.

Weather and other issues had delayed Jessie Frank's flight from Washington, D.C., to Atlanta all day long. She was No. 8 on a standby list that showed no more open seats. But then she was waved down the jetway and met by someone with a "vaguely familiar face." He helped her with her bag and showed her to her seat.

It was only when the flight was descending that the flight attendant announced there was a special guest onboard and sitting in the jump seat.

"Suddenly I realized that 'familiar face' was not an off-duty pilot," Frank wrote in her Facebook post, An Open Letter to Delta CEO Richard Anderson. "It was you, the CEO of Delta, vaguely familiar from the safety video. It was you, Richard Anderson, who gave up your seat for me. It was you, the Delta CEO, who helped me with my bag. It was you, acting just like an ordinary Mr. Anderson, who showed me to my seat.

"You, Richard Anderson, the CEO of Delta, did all that for me, just an average, middle-aged, woman with, as far as anyone at Delta knew, no special reason to get home," Frank added. "But more importantly, it was all of your employees that day that did so much helping me to get home -- and now I know why. Because Delta is led by you, Richard Anderson, a dedicated and inspiring leader who so clearly demonstrates, at his very core, that he leads by example, and does not set himself above all those who allow this airline to exist."

Frank wrote of how important it was to her to pick up her daughter at camp.

"Camp Kudzu gives my daughter 5 days a year when she feels 'normal.' Pick-up day gives me a glimpse into that special world where she's just like everyone else, and she's a little bit of a different person for the rest of the day. By the next day, it's back to the harsh realities of managing a difficult, deadly, incurable disease that kills 1 in 20 before the age of 18. Most people just don't understand how different it is from regular diabetes."

Delta Airlines confirmed the incident, but citing the CEO's desire to avoid the spotlight, declined to comment.

Looks like Delta has at least one lifelong customer.

"I had my special day with my special child. You and your employees gave us both one more day of happiness, and for that, we are both very grateful, Frank wrote. "I have always been a loyal Delta customer, but Thursday solidified that loyalty for life!"

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