Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson is in the travel spotlight today after he gave up his seat on an oversold Delta flight so that a mother could make it home to Atlanta, WXIA TV of Atlanta reports.
The mother – Jessie Frank – was flying from Washington Reagan National Airport to Atlanta on June 13. Unbeknownst to Delta employees, Frank was anxious to make it home to Atlanta in time to pick up her 12-year old daughter, who was at a Georgia summer camp for kids with Type I diabetes.
But Frank's travels didn't go smoothly once she got to the airport. Her two-hour flight turned into an entire day at the airport after a series of delays and cancellations, and she began to fear she'd not make it back in time to meet her daughter.
By the time Frank was ready to board her now late-day flight, she says she was No. 8 on the stand-by list – with zero seats available. So Frank was surprised when the gate agents called her and told her to board.
Frank says she and her luggage were escorted to her seat by a man with a "vaguely familiar" face, but she initially didn't think much of else of it and settled in.
It was only as her flight prepared to land in Atlanta that the pilots announced the Delta CEO was riding in the cockpit jump seat as "a special guest." Frank says that's when it hit her about who that man with the familiar face was.
She was so moved by the event that she posted an open letter of thanks to Anderson on Facebook. The June 17 letter has since gone viral, and now the story is making the round in the media.
"Suddenly I realized that 'familiar face' was not an off-duty pilot," Frank writes in her letter. "It was you, the CEO of Delta, vaguely familiar from the safety video. It was you, Richard Anderson, who gave up your seat for me. It was you, the Delta CEO, who helped me with my bag. It was you, acting just like an ordinary Mr. Anderson, who showed me to my seat."
"You, Richard Anderson, the CEO of Delta, did all that for me, just an average, middle-aged, woman with, as far as anyone at Delta knew, no special reason to get home," Frank continues her in post. "But more importantly, it was all of your employees that day that did so much helping me to get home – and now I know why. Because Delta is led by you, Richard Anderson, a dedicated and inspiring leader who so clearly demonstrates, at his very core, that he leads by example, and does not set himself above all those who allow this airline to exist."
Delta officials confirmed Frank's account to the New York Daily News, but said he wouldn't comment further because he wanted to avoid the spotlight.