Sky-High Kindness: Delta Pilot Returns Lost Library Book, Offers to Pay Fees

Early this month a public library in Shawnee, Kansas received a strange letter. One of their books was returned in the mail – but it didn’t come from the reader who borrowed it. A Delta Air Lines captain found Whatever After: If the Shoe Fits on the Atlanta airport’s B concourse while commuting to their home in Florida.

The pilot may have saved the young reader significant late fees, and protected their future borrowing privileges – expressing a hope that whomever had checked out the book “grows up to be an avid reader.”

The pilot actually offered to cover the late fees for the book he returned because he believes that nobody “should ever be penalized for enriching their life with a book.” Contra the pilot, though, the penalty here would have been for

  1. not returning the book, so that
  2. someone else was unable to enjoy it as well.

Enclosed with the book was a bunch of pilot wings and trading cards from Delta to share with children who visit the Shawnee public library.

It’s an odd choice for the pilot in this letter to highlight their own reading preferences? But it’s still a kind gesture to return the book, help out the anonymous borrower and the library, and help spread a love of reading. Kudos to “Ben” whose full name has been redacted on the letter making the rounds in social media.

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. I guess when you only work about 12 days a month and earn around a half million a year, don’t have to put a penny into retirement then you can do things like that.

  2. This isn’t kindness. It’s virtue signaling & compliment fishing. People need to cut that shit out.

    NYC does not do everything right, but it does get some norms of interpersonal behavior in the right place: No forced politeness. No smiles. No charity or pleasantry to people you don’t know. Don’t even say hello. If something is none of your business, ignore it.

    This pilot should have ignored the book.

  3. United would have thrown it in the trash, American would have tried to sell it online and Spirit would have used it to beat an unruly passenger.

  4. @HVC. As far virtue signaling and compliment fishing I don’t know that’s what the pilot had in mind at all. And neither do you. Only God and the pilot know that. It would be good if kindness was so automatic that you don’t even think about it. I don’t know if the pilot expected a thank you but it wouldn’t have hurt the library to give him one. I’ve always believed that charity begins at home. Then you concentrate on the other folks. Politeness should be genuine-not forced. It should be as natural as breathing. Just like being kind. A hello and a smile can make a positive difference in someone’s day. It doesn’t cost anything to be pleasant. You might get to know some of those people you don’t know now. The pilot made the book his business and he could choose to do what he did or ignore it. His choice. I feel he made a good choice.

  5. As most of us would agree, this is more evidence that Delta is a premium airline for premium people.

  6. How kind but I’m curious why the author of the article uses the pronoun “their”, a plural pronoun, in lieu of “his” since the pilot’s name is “Ben”? What’s the matter…woke?

  7. Kind of sad that some on here take a simple, kind gesture and put a negative spin on it.

    Kind of a sad testament of society when people are so jaded and miserable.

  8. “Their” when you mean “him” or “her?” It makes reading difficult. Please use correct English.

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