Airline Holds Flight To Help Man Reach Dying Mother's Bedside - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Airline Holds Flight To Help Man Reach Dying Mother's Bedside

Posted: Updated:

TODAYSHOW.COM - It was only a matter of minutes, but Kerry Drake will forever be grateful for the precious sliver of time.

On Jan. 24, the San Francisco man booked the first possible flight to Lubbock, Texas, via a connection in Houston after his brother informed him that their mother Dolores was dying and might not make it another 24 hours. However, his United Airlines flight to Houston experienced a 30-minute delay coming out of San Francisco, leaving him distraught that he might not be able to be with his mother in her final hours.

As he sat on the plane trying to deal with his emotions, flight attendant Sofia Linares brought him napkins to dab his tears while fellow flight attendant Lan Chung relayed his flight number to the captain. When the plane landed in Houston, it appeared as if Drake would miss his connection, which was the last plane to Lubbock for the day. He needed to take an air train to another terminal just to reach the gate for his connection and figured it would be too late.

But when he arrived, he received an unexpected gift.

"What I felt was just an amazing relief when I turned the corner and the gate agent called my name out and said they had been expecting me,'' Drake told TODAY.com. "It was the first time I realized that they had all conspired to make sure I was going to get there.''

Drake found out that United employees had held the flight from Houston to Lubbock for him, "only 15 or 20 minutes, if that,'' he said.

He made it to his mother's bedside at a Lubbock hospital in time to be with her during her last hours, and was sitting with his father in the middle of the night when they witnessed her final moments of coherence before her death. Dolores Drake died at age 76 in the early morning hours of Jan. 25, after having suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for much of her life and being worn down by the drugs used to treat her condition.

"(United) went above and beyond,'' Drake said. "It was a matter of minutes, but it made all the difference in the world. That really blew me away.''

His luggage also managed to make it on the connecting flight, and he said he heard no complaints of any kind from the passengers waiting on board. The airline did not receive any formal complaints from other passengers regarding the short delay, United spokesperson Megan McCarthy told TODAY.com.

"I've heard anecdotally of this happening before, but it's rare,'' McCarthy said of the flight being held for special circumstances. "Many of our employees, if they can help a customer, will go above and beyond if there's a way that they can make it happen. It's not always the case that we can do something like this because of other considerations, but it looks to me like all these employees worked together to make it happen.''

Drake followed up his experience with a complimentary letter to United on Feb. 24, thanking the airline and staff, including pilot Edward Goldstein and first officer Dirk Chilian, for their kindness in a difficult situation. The letter appeared in the company's employee newsletter with his name removed

"My only motivation was to recognize the people at United who were so kind,'' he said. "It was a greatly unusual and appreciated thing.''

HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Mad Minute stories from Friday, August 18th

    Mad Minute stories from Friday, August 18th

    Saturday, August 19 2017 2:00 AM EDT2017-08-19 06:00:13 GMT
    Mad Minute for 12/30/16Mad Minute for 12/30/16

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Friday, August 18th.

    More >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Friday, August 18th.

    More >>
  • The Latest: Florida authorities say 2 police officers shot

    The Latest: Florida authorities say 2 police officers shot

    Saturday, August 19 2017 12:39 AM EDT2017-08-19 04:39:16 GMT

     KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - The Latest on police officers shot in Florida (all times local): 12:30 a.m. Authorities in northern Florida say two police officers have been shot in Jacksonsville. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said on its official Twitter site that two police officers were shot in the west side of the city. The Sheriff's Office later tweeted: "Two police officers shot: If you are inclined to do so, say a prayer for our two #JSO officers that have been 

    More >>

     KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - The Latest on police officers shot in Florida (all times local): 12:30 a.m. Authorities in northern Florida say two police officers have been shot in Jacksonsville. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said on its official Twitter site that two police officers were shot in the west side of the city. The Sheriff's Office later tweeted: "Two police officers shot: If you are inclined to do so, say a prayer for our two #JSO officers that have been 

    More >>
  • Details of 'Deadpool 2' stuntwoman's death released

    Details of 'Deadpool 2' stuntwoman's death released

    Friday, August 18 2017 8:02 PM EDT2017-08-19 00:02:55 GMT

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - British Columbia's workplace safety agency has released the first official account of a "Deadpool 2" stuntwoman's death. The initial report by WorkSafeBC on Friday confirms witness accounts to Monday's accident during filming of the sequel to actor Ryan Reynolds' popular superhero movie. The report says SJ Harris had been rehearsing a stunt that involved driving a motorcycle out the open 

    More >>

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - British Columbia's workplace safety agency has released the first official account of a "Deadpool 2" stuntwoman's death. The initial report by WorkSafeBC on Friday confirms witness accounts to Monday's accident during filming of the sequel to actor Ryan Reynolds' popular superhero movie. The report says SJ Harris had been rehearsing a stunt that involved driving a motorcycle out the open 

    More >>
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • One couple's special eclipse plan in Spokane

    One couple's special eclipse plan in Spokane

    Sunday, August 20 2017 7:05 PM EDT2017-08-20 23:05:21 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - What are you doing on the day of the eclipse? Most are probably just going to view it, but one couple wanted to make it extra special. They’re getting married in Spokane on Monday. Ralph Fishburn is the officiant of the wedding. He’s done unique weddings before, including one at the start line of Bloomsday.

    More >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - What are you doing on the day of the eclipse? Most are probably just going to view it, but one couple wanted to make it extra special. They’re getting married in Spokane on Monday. Ralph Fishburn is the officiant of the wedding. He’s done unique weddings before, including one at the start line of Bloomsday.

    More >>
  • US, Canada, Mexico pledge quick work to update NAFTA

    US, Canada, Mexico pledge quick work to update NAFTA

    Sunday, August 20 2017 4:48 PM EDT2017-08-20 20:48:37 GMT

    WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S., Canadian and Mexican negotiators are pledging to work quickly to update the North American Free Trade Agreement, a 23-year-old pact that President Donald Trump has called the worst trade deal in history. Wrapping up the first round of NAFTA renegotiation talks Sunday, the three countries said they planned to meet again in Mexico Sept. 1-5, in Canada in late September and back in the United States in October.

    More >>

    WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S., Canadian and Mexican negotiators are pledging to work quickly to update the North American Free Trade Agreement, a 23-year-old pact that President Donald Trump has called the worst trade deal in history. Wrapping up the first round of NAFTA renegotiation talks Sunday, the three countries said they planned to meet again in Mexico Sept. 1-5, in Canada in late September and back in the United States in October.

    More >>
  • Prosecutors: Chicago slaying was part of sexual fantasy

    Prosecutors: Chicago slaying was part of sexual fantasy

    Sunday, August 20 2017 4:38 PM EDT2017-08-20 20:38:18 GMT

    CHICAGO (AP) - Prosecutors say the fatal stabbing of a hairstylist in Chicago was part of a sexual fantasy hatched online between a professor and university employee. An Illinois state prosecutor told an initial court hearing Sunday in Chicago that the plan was to kill someone and then for the two men to kill themselves.

    More >>

    CHICAGO (AP) - Prosecutors say the fatal stabbing of a hairstylist in Chicago was part of a sexual fantasy hatched online between a professor and university employee. An Illinois state prosecutor told an initial court hearing Sunday in Chicago that the plan was to kill someone and then for the two men to kill themselves.

    More >>