“Thank You, Richard Anderson”

On 13 June 2013, Jessie Frank needed to get on board a Delta flight so that she could “pick up my Type 1 Diabetic 12-year-old from her diabetes summer camp. I’m sure she would have been fine if someone else had shown up in my place, but it’s a special moment for me. Camp Kudzu gives my daughter 5 days a year when she feels ‘normal.’ Pick-up day gives me a glimpse into that special world where she’s just like everyone else, and she’s a little bit of a different person for the rest of the day. By the next day, it’s back to the harsh realities of managing a difficult, deadly, incurable disease that kills 1 in 20 before the age of 18. Most people just don’t understand how different it is from regular diabetes.” Unfortunately, because of bad weather, airplanes suffered multiple delays, as well as cancellations and re-routings. Ms. Frank ended up eighth on a waiting list for a seat. She got one, although she told no one at Delta about her 12-year-old diabetic daughter. She wrote on Facebook, “A vaguely familiar face met me at the doorway, not in uniform so probably an off-duty pilot I had seen before. He quickly grabbed my roll-aboard, helped clear a space in the overhead, and showed me to my seat.” Actually, the familiar face turned out to be the CEO of Delta. He gave up his seat to Ms. Frank and instead sat in a jump seat: a small, folding seat for temporary use. Ms. Frank wrote, “As the plane descended into Atlanta, the flight attendant announced that there was a special guest on board. He was riding in a jump seat, because he had given up his place to allow one more person on that flight. That special guest was you: Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta. Suddenly I realized that ‘familiar face’ was not an off-duty pilot. 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. 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. Thank you, Richard Anderson. As a result of your leadership and the actions of yourself and your employees, I had my special day with my special child. You and your employees gave us both one more day of happiness, and for that, we are both very grateful. I have always been a loyal Delta customer, but Thursday solidified that loyalty for life! To all Delta employees who helped me on Thursday: thank you again.” In a comment on Facebook, Heather Morawa wrote, “As a Delta employee for 23 years, this does not surprise me about Richard. Thank you for sharing, Jessie!”

For Further Information: Jessie Frank, “An open letter to Delta CEO Richard Anderson.” Facebook. 17 June 2013

https://www.facebook.com/delta/posts/617363794949473

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