Pilot No Shows, Forces Delta to Cancel Last Ever Boeing 747 Flight Departing U.S.

Just last week Delta told investors that their operation was so good only weather could snarl it. I suggested this was hubris along the lines of American’s Doug Parker claiming his airline would never lose money again — and I suggested that the Atlanta-based airline, known for IT meltdowns, had better hope as well that “all of their pilots stay happy” because pilots can bring down any airline.

Today Delta was scheduled to fly its last-ever Boeing 747 departure from the U.S., Detroit to Seoul. And one of the plane’s four pilots didn’t show so Delta had to cancel the flight.

Copyright: uskarp / 123RF Stock Photo

Zach Honig who was at the airport for the flight writes,

Delta.com confirms the cancellation:

With a need for only four Boeing 747 pilots for the entire day, as this was the only 747 flight, they didn’t have anyone at Detroit on reserve.

However instead of moving all of the passengers to other flights (many of whom were flying just to be on the last 747 flight of any US airline), Zach notes that Delta decided to fly the 747 to Seoul on Monday as an extra section instead. And it looks like they’ll fly it back to the U.S. on Tuesday with a 3 hour delay.

No doubt Delta will reconcile their claim that only weather can snarl their operations with today’s 747 debacle as simply a case of their pilot being under the weather.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. ” Delta told investors that their operation was so good only weather could snarl it” – yea or whatever the hell is going on in Atlanta right now. Delta is in full-on crisis mode at this point.

  2. Ridiculously embarrassing — especially after you (unfairly) criticized their COO’s statement about his airline’s reliability — but what should DL have done? Kept a 747 pilot on reserve for this one flight? Maybe, but I’m not sure that would make any sense.

  3. Considering their operational efficiency is not just good or great, but far and away much better than any other airline, being the first airline to go a whole month without cancelling a single mainline flight just last month, maybe your criticism was overly….I don’t know…tinted with personal bias and no actual basis in reality.

  4. @bill – laughable that Georgia Power’s and Hartsfield Airport’s issue is Delta’s problem. Delta is not to blame for routing main and redundant power lines through the same passages…

  5. Someone help Zach Honig change his diaper.

    Another “entitled” cupcake, bored, with nothing to do with his GoPro.

  6. Could it be possible that the fourth pilot was scheduled to commute from somewhere and got stuck because of the ATL cluster? Do we know for sure that it was the pilot’s fault?

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