Pilot turns around plane to help elderly couple meet dying grandson
An elderly couple, who were going to Australia via Abu Dhabi on March 30, learnt that their grandson was in intensive care and they needed to get there.world Updated: Apr 17, 2017 20:05 IST
Just when you hear about airlines dragging away or deplaning passengers, or scorpions falling from overhead bins, here is a refreshing story: of a pilot turning around a flight to help an elderly couple get to their dying grandson.
An Etihad aircraft was turned around at Manchester Airport to allow the couple to deplane, after they happened to see a text message from their son-in-law just before switching off their mobile phone as the plane was taxiing on the runway.
The couple, who were going to Australia via Abu Dhabi on March 30, learnt that their grandson was in intensive care and they needed to get there, said their travel agent, Becky Stephenson.
They informed the crew, who spoke to the captain, who then turned the plane back to the boarding gate, Stephenson said, according to a report in the Straits Times.
The airline staff meanwhile arranged to get their baggage and assisted them back through the airport.
Their car was collected from the parking area and taken to arrivals so they could drive off straight to meet their grandson.
Unfortunately, the boy died the following day.
The flight went ahead on its journey after the couple got off.
“It was such a sad thing that happened to my clients, but it was lovely that Etihad was able to help in the way they did,” Stephenson was quoted as saying in the report.
Calling the episode “very unusual,” Stephenson said, “I’ve been in the travel business for 25 years” and had not heard of an airline going “above and beyond with their customer service” in such a way.
“My customers were so grateful that staff were very helpful and they were taken care of.”
The couple have been told they could use the ticket on a different date, Stephenson added, but “my customers are not thinking of when they’re flying back out again.”
As the news comes amid a week of public relations disasters for United Airlines of the US, some social media users pointed out that Etihad in Arabic means ‘United’. Strange coincidence, that.