Flight schedules are usually pretty set in stone. When Pilot Cohen ignored aviation protocol, it meant the world to a grieving family.
An Arizona family was traveling to Tennessee to attend a family member’s funeral. Jay Short, a husband and loving father, had lost his battle with cancer, receiving the diagnosis only months before. The ceremony was an event his family wasn’t going to miss.
The family of four struck some bad luck after their connecting flight in Minneapolis was delayed. Immediately after landing, they were given less than ten minutes to board their flight to Memphis. With the funeral scheduled the following morning, this was the family’s last chance.
After running frantically through the airport, the foursome didn’t make it. The door had been closed and the plane had left the gate. The mother, her son, and his two sisters could no longer board the aircraft.
Marcia Short, Jay’s wife, was desperate to attend her husband’s funeral. She tried her best to get the pilot’s attention with hopes he would delay takeoff by only a few short minutes.
“My son and I are waving our arms at the pilots and the ground crew as my two daughters are crying their eyes out. We are pleading for them to not take off,” Marcia said. “We had to get to Memphis.”
Captain Adam Cohen, the pilot of the aircraft, flew for Endeavor Airlines. The smaller entity was owned by Delta Air Lines. He was touched by the family’s emotional response. Going against protocol and aviation standards, he turned the plane around and welcomed the Short family on board.
The public as well as the in-flight community weren’t sure what to think. His actions could have caused countless repercussions. By choosing to differ from the flight plan, Cohen consequently admitted to risking the “censure of his company.”
That choice could have resulted in suspension or even termination, according to aviation analyst, John Nance
“The door is always closed on time because the most important thing to airlines is on time departure records,” Nance adds.
To Captain Cohen, it was worth the risk. The pilot says he will keep that memory with him forever. The desperation on the family’s faces urged him to help.
“Little moments like this are big to these customers,” Cohen commented,”…at the end of the day, it also keeps us going.”
In response to the whiplash from the public and aviation community, a spokesperson from the major airline issued a statement.
“This Endeavor Air pilot’s decision to return to the gate in this special circumstance is a great reflection of the human touch we want all Delta customers to experience when flying with us.”
Watch the viral news story in the video clip below.