Posted December 03, 2013

Delta Air Lines passengers bumped to accommodate Florida basketball team

NCAAB
Coach Billy Donovan and his Florida Gators basketball team lost to UConn, 65-64. (AP)

Coach Billy Donovan and his Florida Gators basketball team lost to UConn, 65-64, Monday night. (AP)

Delta Air Lines canceled a commercial flight on Sunday after allowing the University of Florida’s men’s basketball team to use the airplane, according to the Gainesville Sun.

When a maintenance delay grounded the plane scheduled to fly the Gators to their Monday night game against UConn, the airline commandeered the plane for Florida’s charter flight. But the airline said in a statement Tuesday that the team was not given preferential treatment.

A passenger from the cancelled flight told the Sun that the change forced passengers to drive to airports in Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa, and some decided it was easier to drive to Atlanta.

“It just felt like the wrong decision made by somebody who didn’t think it through,” she told The Sun.

Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant told Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg that the airline believed it could fix the mechanical issue in time to get the passengers off the ground.

From Eisenberg’s story:

Florida’s charter flight was originally supposed to take off at 3 p.m. and the flight from Gainesville to Atlanta was scheduled for 3:26 p.m. Delta hoped to accommodate Florida by having them use the aircraft originally bound for Atlanta, then fix the mechanical issue with the other plane in time for the Atlanta-bound passengers to take off with minimal delay.

“They used that aircraft to cover the charter because they were confident they could rectify that mechanical issue and then it’s a win-win,” Durrant said. “Maybe you take a slight delay on the scheduled side, you protect the charter and everyone is happy. That was the intention behind which that decision was made, but unfortunately the issue with the other aircraft was not rectified and ultimately the delay became a cancelation as a result of the mechanical issues.

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In a later statement, the airline reiterated that the university had no role in the decision-making process.
From the statement:

“Delta Connection partner ExpressJet, which operated both the charter as well as the regularly scheduled flight, made the operational decision to swap aircraft as the maintenance work was expected to be done quickly,” the airline said. “Unfortunately, it was not and Delta flight 5059 was cancelled. Delta made every effort to re-accommodate those customers on alternate flights and we apologize to the 50 customers who were inconvenienced.

“Our efforts to better serve our customers are constant and a well-intentioned operational decision unfortunately did not work as planned,” the airline said. “We continually look for ways to improve the customer experience and again, we apologize to those customers who were inconvenienced.”

The No. 15 Gators lost to UConn, 65-64, on a buzzer-beater by Shabazz Napier.


20 comments
badcyclist1
badcyclist1

"Our efforts to better serve our customers...."  Delta put an interesting spin on that sentiment.

RussHaasch
RussHaasch

If they thought the maintenance issue was going to be resolved so quickly, why didn't they let the team experience the "brief delay" and let the average-Joe passengers go on their way?  Any team worth their salt builds in additional time to their flight schedules for just such occasions.  If Florida didn't do that, f--k 'em.  

BaNosser
BaNosser

it is ALL about the benjamins.. nothing else matters

bones12
bones12

classic idiotic behavior from Delta and Florida.  That the airlines are so out of touch with their customer base is really frightening.   Florida's arrogance reflects the out of control status NCAA athletes receive. Last time I knew they were just college students.

NCB
NCB

"But the airline said in a statement Tuesday that the team was not given preferential treatment."

 When was the last time a plane load of passengers was removed from a plane, so that a plane load of passengers from another plane that was experiencing mechanical issues, could get to their destinations on time?

Come on Delta, you can't be serious....

eddie767
eddie767

This is one of the reasons,some athletes,think they are entitled/allowed to do and get away with anything. To say UF didn't have anything to do with this is dumb. Some ppl missed a funeral and no apology came from Delta or UF. It's a good thing they lost,since the way they got to game wasn't a winners way but a whiners way.

doublejtrain68
doublejtrain68

The Gators aren't at fault. These airlines are getting more out of control every day. They should give free travel vouchers to their passengers who had to get delayed going to their destinations because of their stupidity. 

JohnFerguson
JohnFerguson

Some passengers missed a funeral for a family member because they could make a connecting flight. A passenger who missed a day at work was punished and lost a full days wages. 

Mr Roberts
Mr Roberts

Yet another reason why I hate Delta.  

CJ101
CJ101

Lost on a buzzer-beater...karma's a b i t c h!

sunalsorises
sunalsorises

Can't say I'm surprised that an airline took advantage of its passengers.  United is still the worst airline I have ever experienced.  

Cool
Cool

If it had been the Florida football team, they would still be in the airport.. waiting for direction from their coach.

Aaron14
Aaron14

@badcyclist1 It should have read "our efforts to serve our better customers...." So they can protect their charter contract.  I hope there was an attempt at placation 

James C
James C

@RussHaasch It's all about the $$$$$. I'm sure the airline made a lot more money on the charter flight than they did off the $50 passengers who they attempted to bump. The problem was that a situation beyond their control caused a problem for the airline. 





James C
James C

@NCB Which group paid more? That's what it boils down to and nothing more. 

JeffDowdy
JeffDowdy

@JohnFerguson "because they could make a connecting flight"  If they made the connecting flight why did they miss the funeral?

a52wkhi
a52wkhi

This is where a lawsuit should happen for a "loss of proper bereavement", "mental cruelty", "unjust enrichment", and some sort of "equal protection" .

JohnFerguson
JohnFerguson

@sunalsorises Try American Airlines. The employees always seem pissed off and absolutely prepared to take it out on their customers.