Southwest Airlines is all about gate times: arriving at a destination early means departing right on time. But Southwest’s manic pursuit of no late flights didn’t keep one of its pilots from ignoring the clock in order to let one more passenger — stuck back in security lines — board the flight.
The man, Mark Dickinson, finally arrived, wearing socks, still holding his shoes in his hands. The pilot was at the gate to greet him.
Dickinson was desperate, like many passengers to make his flight: it would be his only chance to say good-bye to his dying grandson, 2-year-old Caden Rodgers, who was scheduled to be taken off life-support that day.
According to CNN, Dickinson’s grandson had suffered head injuries after his mother’s boyfriend threw him across a room while in drunk and high. Dickinson immediately tried to get to the boy and his daughter in Denver, Colorado, where doctors said they needed to take Caden off life support, whether the grandfather was there or not.
Dickinson’s wife called ahead to Southwest explaining the situation, but long lines at TSA checkpoints held Dickinson up. Southwest customer service passed the message along and the pilot made the decision. He didn’t board the plane until Dickinson showed up.
According to CNN, the two had this exchange:
“I told him, ‘Thank you so much. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that.’ And he said, ‘No problem. They can’t leave without me anyway,’ ” Dickinson told KABC.
Rather than being irritated, Southwest powers-that-be are proud of the pilot, who wished to not be named. They also see this as a demonstration of customer service. Any grumbling passengers on that flight would certainly understand.
Such humanity is a relief, especially in light of such a crushing and tragic loss of life.