Skip to content

A priceless gift: How AA employees gave one passenger an extra day with her dying father

Feb. 28, 2020
4 min read
A priceless gift: How AA employees gave one passenger an extra day with her dying father
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

As a general rule, flight delays are an annoyance at best, and a severe inconvenience in worst-case scenarios. But every now and then, a missed flight connection represents the difference between life and death.

TPG reader Lori Merriman Thomas recently shared how American Airlines employees went above and beyond to ensure she made her connecting flight, giving her a priceless extra day with her dying father.

"I am eternally grateful for your compassion and kindness," Lori wrote about the crew members who helped her. "I made it home in time to spend an extra day with my Dad, who passed away this morning."

Lori told TPG that her father had been in hospice care for four months, but that his rapid decline was unexpected when on Feb. 25 during a business trip, she received an emergency call regarding her elderly father's failing health.

An AA elite member, Lori immediately booked the last flight of the night from Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Colorado Springs (COS) with a connection in Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).

But Flight AA2784 from D.C. to DFW was delayed on the ground for nearly an hour, Lori said, who knew that her chances of missing connecting Flight AA2347 from DFW to Colorado Springs was very high.

"Not wanting to burst into tears in front of passengers," Lori passed a note to a flight attendant named Deanna, explaining the situation and asking for help.

Deanna promptly went into action, working with flight dispatch, the pilots from both flights and local ground crew members to arrange a special ground transport for Lori.


"Ms. Thomas — We should be at the gate by 9:50," Deanna wrote in a note she passed back to Lori. "Our captain has let dispatch know about your situation. Ground crew at DFW arranging for a cart to take you to your gate — A23. Our thoughts will be with you on your journey!"

All went according to plan, and Lori found herself "whisked to an awaiting AA ramp vehicle on the tarmac and driven to my gate two terminals away," she told the TPG Lounge. After safely landing in Colorado Springs, Lori told TPG she took an Uber directly to her dad's memory care facility, and slept in his room that night.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

"Thank you to Deanna and the Captain on AA2784, and to the Captain and crew on AA2347," Lori wrote in her Facebook post.

Lori, who holds executive platinum status with American, said her travels have been severely impacted by AA's long-standing disputes with the mechanics' unions. But because of her experience with the flight crew that night, "I vowed to never again complain about AA," Lori said.

It took multiple teams and very quick work to make Lori's VIP escort in DFW possible, American Airlines told TPG. Deanna spoke with the airline's LA-based pilots, who contacted the Integrated Operations Center (IOC) in Fort Worth, Texas, for support. From there, the dispatcher then spoke with AA's System Customer Service Manager (SCSM) and the SCSM team, who worked with the DFW team, along with American’s DFW Hub Control Center (HCC), to ensure Lori made the connection without a hitch.

AA shared a statement with The Points Guy, saying,

"First, our condolences to Ms. Thomas on the loss of her father. In the light of the circumstances, our team wanted to assist. We appreciate the many American Airlines team member who went above and beyond to take care of Ms. Thomas that evening to ensure she made her connection at DFW."

American Airlines told TPG that Deanna, the flight attendant who set everything in motion for Lori, has been with the airline since Feb. 29, 1984. In fact, Deanna will celebrate her 36th anniversary with AA this year — or her ninth, if you're a purist about leap year accounting.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Lori Merriman Thomas)

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees