Megan McCarthy, a United Airlines spokeswoman said, “Our employees really worked together that day to help this customer.”
On the morning of January, 24, Kerry Drake got the call from his brother that everyone dreads. His mother Dolores, who had struggled with rheumatoid arthritis for decades, was dying, and Kerry needed to come immediately. Kerry booked the first flight out of San Francisco, but according to CNN, his connecting flight in Houston was “tight.” Kerry said, “I knew this itinerary was a risk because the stopover in Houston was only about 40 minutes, and my connecting flight was the last flight to Lubbock that day. But I needed to get there as soon as possible, so I took the risk.” Unfortunately, as so often happens in situations like this, the first leg of his flight was delayed 30 minutes before takeoff.
As you can imagine, the news that he would more than likely miss his connecting flight left Kerry “visibly distraught.” A flight attendant, Sofia Lares did the best she could to comfort him, bringing him napkins and “vowing to do whatever they could to help.” Lan Chung, another of the attendants on Kerry’s flight attendant found out what the connecting flight’s number was and gave that information to the captain who was already doing his best to make up as much time in the air in an attempt to get Kerry to his connecting flight on time. Even with the time the captain was able to make up in the air, the plane touched down several minutes after Kerry’s connecting flight had been scheduled to leave.
What Kerry didn’t know at the time was that the captain of his first flight had called ahead to let the connecting flight know what was happening, and United Airlines had delayed the plane 20 minutes so that Kerry could make the flight. He said, “As I was running up to the gate, the gate agent saw me coming and shouted, ‘Mr. Drake? We’ve been expecting you.’ That’s when I knew they had conspired to help me. She waved me onto the plane without looking at my boarding pass.” Kerry made it to Lubbock, and amazingly so did his bags. The baggage handlers had been waiting as well and while he was rushing to his gate, they were rushing his bags to make the flight as well. He said, “‘Had I missed my flight to Lubbock, I would not have been able to tell my mom goodbye.” Kerry’s mom, Dolores passed away early on the morning of January, 25.
Kerry told CNN that when he finally had time to realize what had happened, he was “overwhelmed by the good will” that had made it possible for him to be with his mother and his family in her last hours. He said, “I was overcome with emotion.” Kerry was so thankful in fact, that when he got home to San Francisco he wrote a letter to United Airlines to “ensure management knew how the flight attendants, pilots and baggage handlers went out of their way to help.”