Whatever the going rate is for a chartered jet on Delta Air Lines, it must be better than the revenue from a scheduled flight, because when a Delta charter went mechanical on Saturday in Tampa, Delta promptly cancelled a commercial flight to Atlanta in order to get the University of Florida men’s basketball team to Connecticut.
Delta spokesman Michael Thomas told The Sun in an email that the passengers from flight 5059 were accommodated on other flights and given vouchers valid for use through Delta for future trips.
The airplane originally meant for the basketball team required maintenance, he wrote, and, “due to operational need and aircraft routing requirements as a result of the busy travel holiday,” Delta decided to use the other airplane and cancel the commercial flight for which it had been initially scheduled.
“Delta apologizes to those customers on Delta Connection flight 5059, operated by ExpressJet, who were impacted by the resulting cancellation of their flight,” he stated.
Canceling a flight is one thing, but why lie about? Passengers in Tampa were told their aircraft had a mechanical problem while they were simultaneously looking out the window watching the Gators team board the aircraft. That’s horrible customer service.
And it’s not like there was a lot of extra space on others flights on one of the busiest travel days of the year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Getting all 50 passengers to their destination without undue delay was impossible.
A passenger who was moving from Salt Lake City to New Jersey was going to miss the moving truck, so he had to find someone else to meet the driver instead. A student’s father had to drive her to Atlanta so she wouldn’t miss an event she needed to make. Another passenger missed a funeral.
What a mess. If I missed a funeral so that Delta could transport a basketball team instead of me, a voucher would be seen as an insult, not a goodwill gesture.
Running an airline is no easy business and my second-guessing Delta’s decision is informed only based on the article I reference above. Perhaps there is more, but it just seems like a poor choice by Delta. If the game was not until Monday evening, why not just send a new aircraft from Atlanta? Are there no reserve aircraft at Delta’s fortress hub even on a busy travel day?