Delta CEO gives up seat for random flier

The Upbeat

An airplane flies in front of the moon (Gary Hershorn/Reuters)

Airlines don't have the best reputation these days, what with the ever-shrinking seats and ever-rising baggage fees. But one Delta passenger couldn't be happier, thanks to a magnanimous act from the company's CEO.

According to Good Morning America, "weather and other issues had delayed Jessie Frank's flight from Washington, D.C., to Atlanta all day long. She was No. 8 on a standby list that showed no more open seats." Suddenly, she was ushered onto the plane and shown to her seat by a courtly man.

Frank, who was on her way to pick up her daughter at a summer camp for children with diabetes, was unaware that the man who gave up his seat and helped her into it was none other than Richard Anderson, the big boss of the entire airline. That is, until she landed in Atlanta, where, according to GMA, a "special guest"—the man who had helped her and who had sat on a jump seat throughout the flight—was introduced.

After learning of the CEO's kind gesture, Frank penned an open letter to the Delta bigwig on Facebook.

From Frank's Facebook post:

"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."

Frank ended her letter with another thank you and a pledge that she was now a loyal Delta customer for life.

Not a bad bit of PR.