Delta Connection Pilot Goes Extra Lengths to Get Family to a Funeral

A family was delayed 90 minutes in Phoenix enroute to Minneapolis, giving them a 7-10 minute connection. They arrived at their gate and their flight headed for Memphis — the last flight had pushed back.

One of the family members was screaming, crying, and waving their hands in the window. The pilot saw this, checked with the gate, and learned the man and his family were headed to a funeral. The pilot brought the plane back to the gate.

Marci said she and her son continued waving at the pilots and ground crew while her two daughters stood crying. She said the attendant contacted her supervisor and the supervisor said there was nothing they could do.

The family was told they would be put on a flight to Atlanta and then they could drive from Atlanta to the funeral in Bolivar, Tennessee.

It turns out that the flight was Delta 3955 on December 19, a Canadair Regional Jet CR9 operated by Endeavor Air.

The flight actually still arrived in Memphis on time. My first thought when I heard the story, before knowing the city pair, flight time, or that there wasn’t a delay, was but what about the other passengers on the flight? They could have had equally traumatic and urgent travels as well. But since the flight was originating in Minneapolis, and in the later evening, it’s unlikely there would be any missed connections in Memphis. And in the end no one was inconvenienced at all. The crew of that flight made a great call, and deserve recognition.

“Pilots Adams and Anderson of flight DL 3955 on December 19, 2015 from MPLS-St Paul to Memphis on Delta Airlines have blessed my family and gave us a gift that no one else could. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and may you both be blessed ten fold,” Marcia said.

And kudos to Endeavor Air and Delta Connection as well!

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. That’s a complete class act – but I really want to know about “ATC would absolutely never allow such a thing.” I mean WTF – things that cause delays happen all the time. ATC is incredibly fluid. TSA, perhaps? But I mean on the last flight of the day of course ATC can make it work.

  2. The flight crew deserves kudos, but if something – anything – is meaningful to you to attend, you need to plan to be there at a minimum 24 hours before the event knowing that anything can happen when you travel cross country. This family made an irresponsible decision to fly in the night before for an AM funeral.

  3. Oh Justin, why do you have to turn a happy story into a sad one?

    Good grief. On New years eve as well.

  4. @ Justin: Why r u a turd? You have no clue about what the backstory is. There could be a dozen perfectly valid reasons why the family travelled when they did. But I guess it must hurt when you think.

  5. Mr. Left,
    First I enjoy immensely reading your site, especially about these pilots returning to the gate for the family.
    I wanted to point out another charitable incident, albeit occurring 25+ years ago. I bring it up because it was actually a life and death issue.
    It was 1999, my last year stationed in FAA Brussels office. I was an FAA AVSEC inspector and visiting the Delta station in St, Petersburg, Russia. I was in the lobby of the Nevskiej Palace waiting for the DL station manage (and former PANAMer), Charlie Imbriani to pick me up. A gentleman, an American, apparently heard me talking to the desk clerk and approached me. He was frantic. Those were the days when everybody was coming into Russia to start businesses. And of course, there were many required joint ventures, some with shady locals.
    This gentleman said his partners were going to kill him and take over his business.
    When Charlie arrived, I told him the guy’s story.
    That very day, Charlie got him to the airport on his outgoing flight.
    Perhaps somewhere, still, there’s a guy still around because of Charlie’s assistance. Just another reason I still prefer Delta.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *