Last updated: 04:08 PM ET, Thu May 28 2015

How Delta Navigated 63 Diversions In One Night

Airlines & Airports | Delta Air Lines | Rich Thomaselli | May 28, 2015

How Delta Navigated 63 Diversions In One Night

How did Delta Air Lines manager to navigate 63 flight diversions in one night? A lot of juggling, a lot of experience and a lot of pizza.

The Atlanta-based airline posted an account on its blog of how it was able to overcome torrential rainstorms and thunder and lightning storms at its home hub on Tuesday, which resulted in the fourth-highest amount of flight diversions in the carrier’s history (78 was the highest in 2013).

According to Delta, the Huntsville, Ala. airport took the most diverted flights with seven. Others had six. All were recovered to Atlanta – but at the expense of nearly 150 mainline and Delta Connection flight cancellations.

“The complexity of what Delta people successfully managed is amazing: 60 plus diversions spread over 17 cities and involving over 7,000 customers,” Corey C., Delta’s Manager of Airport Customer Service and the Operations and Customer Center, told the Delta blog. “Delta people recovered every one of those [diversions]. To accomplish something like that takes communication, planning, execution and sincere care for our customers and coworkers. If that’s not awe-inspiring, I don’t know what is.”

Ty A., the Station Manager in Knoxville, Tenn., where six diverted flights landed, sprang into action. He has a diversion checklist that includes meeting with gate agents, baggage handlers and more who specialize in diverted flights. Not only did Ty order 125 pizzas for passengers and workers, he arranged a police escort to allow the pies to be delivered quickly to the airport.

The team delivered the pizzas to the six aircraft parked at remote stands. Flights that had been flying the longest were served first, and many customers took to social media praising the gesture.

“The team makes it happen, that’s for sure,” Ty said. “Everyone knows their role. While challenging, we train and prepare for these events, so we can give our diversions the best possible chance to get to Atlanta. We also had great communication from the OCC, so we could keep crews and customers in the loop,” he added.

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