Delta Air Line reunites boy with beloved shirt from deceased father

Airlines take a lot of heat for losing luggage or getting into scrapes with passengers.  But every once in a while, airline staff go above and beyond to help a customer that makes it feel that you're actually flying the friendly skies.

This was the case when a first grader from North Dakota left a treasured Nike shirt on a Delta plane on the way home from a trip to California.   This wasn't an ordinary shirt.  According to WDAY, it was the shirt that Brian Holzer, Cole's father, was wearing when he died two years ago in a freak accident after he fell while putting up Christmas Lights.

Cole, 7, reportedly carried the tattered shirt everywhere and would even cuddle up with it before going to bed because ”it reminds me of my dad,” the boy told WDAY.

On the highway driving back from the airport, Cole realized he'd left the shirt on the plane. A family friend who was traveling with them, called Delta, sobbing.   “I started by calling the Delta 800 number and I tried to keep my composure, I am pretty emotional, I cried, the lady on the other end cried,” Kelly Cruchet said.

Delta staff, from the ground crew to the ticket agents, went on the look out for the shirt, and ultimately found it in the garbage.

Kelly Holzer, Cole's mom, said the news of the recovered shirt brought a new round of tears. ”They found it, they looked through the garbage and found it. I cried some more. I started crying, Cole started crying.”

Most airlines have a lost and found department where passengers can report items lost. One airline, U.K.'s Thomson Airways, even has a special program that allows kids to check in their stuffed animals and get a special tag at the gate.

Despite the shirt being found in the garbage, a Delta spokesman told that the airline has a rigorous process in place for logging forgotten items and articles found on their planes.

“Efforts made to reunite this very special shirt with this customer and his family is another fantastic example of Delta people going above and beyond for our customers and truly speaks to the culture of our dedicated employees.”

It's unclear had the Holzers not immediately made the call to the airlines about the missing shirt that the airline's lost item reporting system would have done much to recover the item.  After all, it was about to be thrown out.