Delta pilot turns plane around to get grieving family to funeral across the country

PHOENIX -- A pilot is being hailed a good Samaritan for an act of kindness involving a family that missed their flight to Tennessee for their father's funeral.

FOX 10 reports the pilot made an unprecedented decision after the plane had already pulled away from the gate.

"I was just crying.. I couldn't believe we were going to miss that flight and we are very, very thankful for those pilots," Nicole Wibel told KSAZ.

The Short family had some bad luck when their flight from Phoenix to Minneapolis was delayed 90 minutes which meant they had less than 10 minutes to make their connection to Memphis.

That was the last flight of the day.  So if they didn't make it onto the plane, they would miss their father's funeral.

By the time they arrived at the connecting flight's gate in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the jetway was being pulled back and the plane had left the gate.

The gate agent said it was too late, but Rick Short was waving his hands and crying at the window trying to get the pilot's attention -- and it worked.

The pilot told KSAZ he saw the desperation on their faces. He learned of their situation and made the compassionate decision to return to the gate and let them board the plane.

"It's very rare.. someone stops and does something so kind and we need more people like that in the world," said Short.

The family made it to Tennessee thanks to the pilot's decision. They were able to lay their father to rest in his hometown - one of his final wishes.