For 13-year old Jonah, saying Delta is an obsession is an understatement. For years, he’s collected countless items with the Delta widget and logo on it. He insists his family fly Delta when they travel, so when he and his mom flew on four Delta flights between Minneapolis and Hawaii last month, he was naturally excited.
His mom Rohnda on the other hand, had some concerns.
Jonah is on the Autism spectrum and while he may be Delta’s No. 1 fan, flying can occasionally be a challenge, Rohnda said in a recent blog post. When flying with young Jonah, Rohnda says planning ahead and implementing some unique tools is essential to a smooth experience.
Equipped with games, toys, videos and food for Jonah, as well as a note card attached to a candy bar for each crew member saying, “Thank You! We are so excited to be flying on Delta Air Lines today. Thank you for all you do to make it a great flight. From your biggest Fan: Jonah and Family,” they took to the skies.
With each passing segment, Delta’s flight crews made Jonah’s experience a truly amazing one, she said.
“I’m happy to tell you that there are some amazing men and women jetting all over the skies, and when you take a moment to truly appreciate their service, they will go above and beyond the call of duty! Such was our experience,” Rohnda said in her blog.
On his final flight, Minneapolis-based Boeing 757/767 Capt. Tim Garvin invited Jonah up to the cockpit prior to departure – no small feat considering Jonah was nervous about stepping foot in the flight deck.
And it didn’t end there. A couple weeks following the family’s trip, a package arrived on their doorstep. Inside, a captain’s hat and Delta lanyard sent from Capt. Garvin.
“A very special thank you to the wonderful people of Delta Air Lines for their extraordinary service and understanding they showed to one little Autistic boy who will forever be their biggest fan!!!” Rohnda wrote.
For Capt. Garvin, he was particularly moved by Jonah and his family, but said making the flying experience better for his customers is something he frequently endeavors to do.
“Everyone has a story, and sometimes, as crew members, we get to be a part of that special story,” he said. “For Jonah, flying Delta is a big deal. And his family was so special in the way they approached the crew and introduced themselves to the flight attendants and pilots. She [Jonah’s mother] wasn’t looking for anything special, she just wanted the crew to know their situation. But we’re a family at Delta, and we responded to Jonah like they were a part of that family. Pilots and flight attendants do this sort of thing all the time—it’s what we absolutely love about this job.”