Southwest Pilot: ‘Now relax. We’ll Get You There.’

Southwest Airlines

Twelve minutes might not seem like such a long time to hold a flight. No general aviation pilot would think twice about such a minimal delay. But for Mark Dickinson, it seemed like an eternity. And for one Southwest Airlines pilot, those 12 minutes spotlighted a show of humanity that has touched the hearts of the country. For those who have not yet heard, Dickinson's three-year-old grandson in Denver was tragically beaten and declared brain dead. He was to be taken off life support at 9 pm, and Dickinson scrambled to arrange his itinerary on Southwest Airlines to be there — for his grandson, and for his daughter to ease her grief. But even though he arrived at LAX two hours before flight time, Dickinson was panicked to find that check-in and security delays meant he would miss the departure deadline for his flight — and would never be able to make his connection in Tucson to get to Denver in time. Despite his pleas, no one at the counter or in the TSA screening line seemed willing to accept the responsibility to get him through. But when he sprinted in stocking feet to his gate, rather than watching the jet taxiing away, Dickinson found the pilot calmly waiting in the jetway, calling to him by name, and reassuring him he would get to Denver, adding, "They can't go anywhere without me, and I'm not going anywhere without you … And again, I'm so sorry." Southwest has hailed its pilot's action — even if its on-time performance statistics slipped by a fraction of a percent as a result.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter