Delta Air Lines Pilot Saves A Broadway Show, Makes Understudy’s Dream Come True

Mikayla Renfrow is an understudy for Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway. She was heading home from vacation in Europe last week, and her Delta flight delayed. That was going to be a problem – because she was about to be given a chance to play Jasmine. She got a message while inflight,

Mikayla… please send an updated eta when you can,” the text read. “I may need you for Jasmine tonight.

She was looking at a 5 p.m. landing at New York JFK – with immigration and customs ahead of her, and a rush hour transit – and didn’t think she could get into makeup and costume for a 7 p.m. curtain time. But thanks to above and beyond efforts across Delta, chronicled by a video she made alone the way, she got to play Princess Jasmine on Broadway after all.

  • She asked a flight attendant if she might help get her off the plane first? The flight attendant escalated matters to the pilot. She was moved up to “a single available seat in first class at the front of the plane,” which I assume was actually a business class seat being used for crew rest.

  • The pilot asked for a close-in gate. And he got in touch with his airline, who arranged a Blade helicopter transfer. The pilot explained “he was inspired by her living out her dream, and he just wanted to support her how he could.”

  • After all that… the plane didn’t have a gate. But a Delta employee met the aircraft, walked her though immigration formalities and escorted her to her waiting helicopter. She was delayed at immigration along the way, but showed up a minute late for Blade with the helicopter waiting to whisk her into the city.

  • And she made it just in time to appear as Princess Jasmine!

Here’s the video chronicling her journey, pulse racing the entire time.

That flight attendant who helped her out? Princess Jasmine gave her a ticket to the show for the evening. She went straight from the airport to the theater, still in uniform.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Story is too good to be true especially with the Blade transfer. Plus, getting off the plane first is typically accomplished by the FA announcing, “The passenger in seat 20A must get off first, everyone else stay seated.” The FA goes into mean 2nd grade teacher mode after everybody ignores that and stands up upon gate arrival. The FA has to say that nobody else can get off until 20A does first. But then people do sit down and 20A gets off.

  2. Bottom line to get off the plane first, you’re not moved to a front seat. The FA holds everyone else back for you.

  3. watch the video,
    it shows a coach seat at first and then a Delta One seat with food; she was apparently moved up for the afternoon meal service and landing.

    Every large company has people that will go above and beyond; Delta just seems to have more of them.

  4. Great story, always glad to see airline crew who go the extra mile to help passengers reach their goals/dreams. These stories are a nice offset to the many negative stories about flights and/or crew that became nightmares.

  5. Delta probably figured it would be a good opportunity to get some free advertising from a show that has a pretty sizable audience.

    I remember a story from Northwest, which is now Delta. One night, they had a flight to MSP and onboard was a family with a sick child connecting in MSP to RST to do a critical life saving transplant at the Mayo Clinic. Only trouble was, the flight to MSP was running late and the gate agent in MSP was unwilling to hold the RST flight for the family, even though it meant life or death for the child. The pilots and dispatchers put their heads together and figured out a workaround and decided to divert their flight to RST to drop off the family, citing it as a “medical emergency”.

  6. @lax_freeagent1 – re: the publicity, I noticed on the video one of the texts said “We will do a shoutout to Delta” (via the production company / Broadway show); the way the video was edited made it look unprompted (which is sort of strange – is that the first thing a director trying to run a play would think of?), but I do wonder if perhaps there were some negotiations or offer of quid pro quo that wasn’t displayed in the public video.

  7. “The individual people of Delta will determine whether we maintain our reputation for customer service. Every employee has the power to destroy or uphold that tradition for courtesy and real hospitality.” – C.E. Wooman

  8. All the tension & stridor in our country – & then a story like this appears. The people are what make our country great. God bless America.

  9. Several years ago wife and I were flying NW SEA-AMS-HEL three days before Xmas. A Seattle snowstorm threatened to cancel flight. About timeout, the flight attendants took a vote in the front of business class. One FA rightly pointed out that if flight was canceled, most of the full plane would not get on to another until after Christmas. Only one FA voted against staying on board. The flight took off two hours late. The FA’s gave the no voter the stink eye. KLM staff had tables set up at arrival gate in AMS. We gave our names, and they handed us new boarding passes.

    It was a flight that we will never forget. What a great way to start Christmas. Why can’t it be that way anymore?-

  10. Unfortunately the story that is not known is that Mikayla’s older boyfriend, Ben Davis, pressures her into having sex with strangers and filming it for his deranged satisfaction…

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