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.
“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 photo courtesy of Lori Merriman Thomas.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees