Southwest Captain Delays Takeoff For Bereaved Grandfather

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In an act of kindness not often seen in the hectic world of airline flying, a Southwest captain delayed a departure for 12 minutes to allow a grandfather rushing to his dying grandson's bedside to board the flight. Mark Dickerson, a Northrop Grumman engineer, was in Los Angeles when he learned that a child abuse incident left his grandson, Caden Rogers, lying brain dead in a Denver hospital. He arrived at Los Angeles Airport only to find a long security line, and airport workers weren't buying his story about Caden and refused to allow him to the front of the line. In desperation, Dickerson phoned his wife who followed up with Southwest, contacting the flight's captain. On his own, the skipper delayed the flight until Dickerson arrived, greeting him at the cabin door. Southwest spokesperson Marilee McInnis told ABC news that the captain has been identified but his name wasn't released, pending the pilot's permission.

Dickerson told ABC that the captain greeted him by name at the jetway and escorted him aboard, even allowing him time to use the lavatory. '"He said, 'no problem. They can't leave without me anyway,'" Dickerson said. "I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe they even knew who I was." ABC aviation consultant John Nance credited Southwest's culture of encouraging personal initiative among its employees, noting that a 12-minute intentional delay "is an eternity" in a market where airlines are under intense pressure to deliver on-time departures.