United Airlines Delays Flight For Man To See Dying Mother - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

United Airlines Delays Flight For Man To See Dying Mother

Posted: Updated:

(CNN) -- If Kerry Drake missed his connecting flight, he wouldn't get to the hospital in time to say goodbye to his mother.

Drake got the news on the morning of January 24 that his mother, who had been ill for years from rheumatoid arthritis and had been especially sick the last four months, was dying.

To get to his mother in Lubbock, Texas, the San Francisco resident booked a United Airlines flight, with only 40 minutes between connecting flights in Houston. When his first flight was delayed, Drake thought he would miss his connecting flight to Lubbock, the last one of the day.

 

He started crying, obviously distraught. The flight attendants brought napkins for his tears, said they would do what they could to help, and most importantly, got his connecting flight information to the captain, he told CNN.

When he got off the airport train and was running toward the gate, "I was still like maybe 20 yards away when I heard the gate agent say, 'Mr. Drake, we've been expecting you,'" he said.

With the information from the flight attendants, the captain had radioed ahead about Drake's situation, and the Lubbock crew had delayed departure to get him on board.

Until that point, Drake had been rushing on adrenaline to make the flight. Finally sitting on that second airplane, he realized how much had gone into helping him get on that plane. "I was overcome with emotion," he said.

Even his luggage arrived on time. The Houston ground crew made sure of it.

He made it to the hospital in time to see his mother. "At one point she opened her eyes, and I think she recognized me," said Drake, who spent the night at the hospital. "Around 4 a.m. she had a real moment of coherence, a last rally, although we didn't know it at the time. It was the last time."

She died that morning.

Drake wrote to United Airlines upon his return to ensure that the flight attendants, pilots, gate agents and baggage handlers who helped him that day were thanked for their service. His story made it into an employee newsletter as an example of what employees could do. "Our employees really worked together that day to help this customer," said United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy.

"This almost never happens," wrote Christopher Elliott, who first told Drake's story on his airline consumer advocate website, via e-mail. "Airline employees are evaluated based on their ability to keep a schedule. Airlines compete with each other on who has the best on-time departure record."

"When the crew on this flight heard about this distraught passenger trying to make his connection, they must have said, 'To hell with it,'" wrote Elliott, who's also the reader advocate for National Geographic Traveler. "And they made the right call."

By: Katia Hetter, CNN

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • LOOKING FOR A HOME? 10 Homes For Sale In Spokane For $125,000

    LOOKING FOR A HOME? 10 Homes For Sale In Spokane For $125,000

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 1:39 PM EDT2014-04-15 17:39:53 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spring is a popular time to purchase and sell a home. Here are 10 homes for sale in Spokane for $125,000. These homes were found on www.WindermereSpokane.com. If you would like more information on any of these homes or would like to schedule a tour, contact your real estate agent with the correct MLS number.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spring is a popular time to purchase and sell a home. Here are 10 homes for sale in Spokane for $125,000. These homes were found on www.WindermereSpokane.com. If you would like more information on any of these homes or would like to schedule a tour, contact your real estate agent with the correct MLS number.>>
  • UPDATE: PHOTOS Of Sex Offenders Who Live In Kootenai County

    UPDATE: PHOTOS Of Sex Offenders Who Live In Kootenai County

    Wednesday, February 26 2014 6:50 AM EST2014-02-26 11:50:17 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Do you know who lives next to you, or in your neighborhood? KHQ has teamed up with local law enforcement agencies to keep you updated on sex offenders that may be living close to you. The latest photos are from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office website. All of the offenders have served their time and are not wanted by authorities.>>
    KHQ.COM - Do you know who lives next to you, or in your neighborhood? KHQ has teamed up with local law enforcement agencies to keep you updated on sex offenders that may be living close to you. The latest photos are from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office website.>>
  • LOOKING FOR A HOME? Here Are 15 Homes For Sale For $175,000

    LOOKING FOR A HOME? Here Are 15 Homes For Sale For $175,000

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 10:08 AM EDT2014-04-15 14:08:47 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Spring is a popular time for those looking to buy or sell their home! We found 15 homes currently for sale in Spokane and surrounding areas all priced at $175,000. These homes were found on WindermereSpokane.Com for more information on a particular property, contact your real estate agent with the correct MLS number.>>
    KHQ.COM - Spring is a popular time for those looking to buy or sell their home! We found 15 homes currently for sale in Spokane and surrounding areas all priced at $175,000. These homes were found on WindermereSpokane.Com for more information on a particular property, contact your real estate agent with the correct MLS number.>>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • UPDATE: Biden: Boston Marathon Survivors Are Inspiration

    UPDATE: Biden: Boston Marathon Survivors Are Inspiration

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 2:21 PM EDT2014-04-15 18:21:34 GMT
    BOSTON (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden says the courage shown by Boston Marathon survivors and those who lost loved ones is an inspiration for other Americans dealing with loss and tragedy.>>
    BOSTON (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden says the courage shown by Boston Marathon survivors and those who lost loved ones is an inspiration for other Americans dealing with loss and tragedy.>>
  • Cattle Battle: BLM To Pursue Effort To End Dispute With Rancher

    Cattle Battle: BLM To Pursue Effort To End Dispute With Rancher

    Monday, April 14 2014 10:08 AM EDT2014-04-14 14:08:14 GMT
    NEVADA, (AP) - A day after blinking in a showdown on the range, federal land managers pledged to pursue efforts to resolve a conflict with a southern Nevada rancher who has refused to pay grazing fees for 20 years. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Craig Leff said Sunday that the agency would continue to try to resolve the matter.>>
    NEVADA, (AP) - A day after blinking in a showdown on the range, federal land managers pledged to pursue efforts to resolve a conflict with a southern Nevada rancher who has refused to pay grazing fees for 20 years. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Craig Leff said Sunday that the agency would continue to try to resolve the matter.
    >>
  • Millions Of Piglets Die After Catching Mysterious Virus: Pork Prices May Go Up

    Millions Of Piglets Die After Catching Mysterious Virus: Pork Prices May Go Up

    Sunday, April 13 2014 11:33 PM EDT2014-04-14 03:33:09 GMT
    (NBC News)- Pork prices may be on the rise in the next few months because of a new virus that has migrated to the U.S, killing piglets in 15 states at an alarming rate in facilities where it has been reported.Dr. Nick Striegel, assistant state veterinarian for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said Wednesday the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, also known as PED, was thought to exist only in Europe and China.>>
    (NBC News)- Pork prices may be on the rise in the next few months because of a new virus that has migrated to the U.S, killing piglets in 15 states at an alarming rate in facilities where it has been reported.Dr. Nick Striegel, assistant state veterinarian for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said Wednesday the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, also known as PED, was thought to exist only in Europe and China.>>