DL 0148 JFK-FCO: nightmarish experience…

Come ampiamente anticipato parecchio tempo fa, ecco finalmente il racconto del, anzi di uno dei famosi voli Delta, che negli ultimi mesi ha dato il meglio del peggio di sè. Quante volte vi è capitato di decollare e tornare indietro dopo 2 ore di volo?! E avere problemi anche con l’aereo sostitutivo? Un volo pieno al 80/85% inizialmente è arrivato a Roma con un 50% circa dei passaggeri…No, non sono stati defenestrati!!! Il racconto è in inglese, è un estratto della “cordiale” lettera inviata a Delta.

…I was one of the passengers on flight DL 0148 from New York (JFK) to Rome Fiumicino (FCO) on XXX. The flight originally took off about 15 minutes behind schedule (@5.35 pm). The seatbelt sign after more than a hour into the flight had not been switched off, lights were not working properly and service had not started. Considering that we had good tail winds, the expected travel time announced by the captain was of less than 8 hrs, it seemed very strange that service had not started on such a short flight. When service started, almost 2 hrs from departure, the flight got bumpy and they had to stop the service.
Meanwhile the captain announced that we had problems with one of the altimeters and we could not fly safely across the Atlantic: we were turning around and were expected to land back @ JFK in approximately 2 hrs.

Service resumed after we descended a little and it wasn’t as bumpy as before. The captain made a few announcements on the way back, including one that gave the impression the captain was nervous and did not feel safe (something along the lines of: “I’ve family and I’d like to make it back”) and certainly did not help keep the passengers quiet. Even if he did not feel safe, he was not supposed to say what he said and scare the passengers.

Once we were close to NY he said that we were a little heavy for landing (we had fuel for a trip of more than 8hrs, flown only 4 at a reduced
speed, so we obviously were on the heavy side), we circled on the bay for a while trying to consume some more fuel I guess (don’t know if on the way back they dumped some too). We were told we would see fire trucks and ambulances on the tarmac, just in case. Landing was
uneventful, the plane slowly made its way back to the gate (towed, overheated engines off). We deplaned around 9.10pm and was directed to a nearby gate, gate 7 if I recall correctly. Another 767 was waiting for us, new scheduled departure was 10pm [so almost 5 hrs later than the original departure time]. A small crowd gathered around the gate desk as people were trying to sort out their new connections once in Rome.

Confusion reigned, people were completely upset and many did not speak English or not too well and had a hard time communicating with the agents.

We were given a $100 electronic voucher for the inconvenient and a small table with some small snack packages and drink was set up in the area.

There were several passengers, including myself who were late for meetings and really had to get back as soon as possible. Many of these
passengers hold status with either Delta or its Skyteam Partners, however no one was put on any other DL flight to Europe (several departing around that time) or any Sky Team partner flight (again many at that time), nobody cared that the delay was causing serious schedule havoc, no one felt a valued customer. At 9.50pm it was clear to me that we would not depart at 10pm; soon afterwards they announced a new departure time at 1am  [some 8hrs after the original departure time!] because the crew would go over their duty time and we would have to wait for a new crew, arriving not earlier than midnight.

All passengers were now really upset and furious, the fatigue was starting to take over.

Boarding finally started around 12.45am. I was so tired that I napped during boarding and push back, but didn’t really realize we hadn’t
actually taken off until the guy across the aisle from me woke me up telling me that there might be problems with the second plane too (it
was 1.35am). I forced myself up from the seat and to my surprise I saw that we were still on the ground and everyone from the right aisle was looking out from the windows. I headed for the galley in the back of the plane just to understand what was going on, a few people were standing in the aisle and looked very nervous and worried: I spoke to the Flight Attendants (FAs) and they told me that we were having problems with the right engine, it would not start automatically and they were trying to start it manually. I was really upset and I told them that we had been waiting for more than 4 hrs and on the ground they’d known we would be back for more than 6 hrs and yet they got us on a plane with mechanical problems. I know that airlines do not have 767s sitting around just in case obviously, a plane on the ground doesn’t make any money, but JFK is a DELTA HUB, it’s not like we were somewhere in Wyoming with only one daily flight! The situation could be handled better, with so many departures and arrivals, the delay could be “re-located” on other planes (shifted).

Meanwhile there were angry, scared and exasperated passengers coming to the galley screaming in Italian at the FAs [unfortunately when the crew changed at the last minute there was no availability of FAs who could speak italian] that they did not want to fly anymore and wanted to get off the plane. I helped the crew with the translation and they communicated to the cockpit the situation. Captain said we would be towed back to the gate, mechanics would replace the starter of the right engine, and who wanted to get off the plane and not fly could certainly do so, but the luggage would stay on board. Those who decided to get off the plane definitely wanted their luggage and started protesting. The plane was now half empty and many of the remaining passengers were not really sure they wanted to fly. I moved again to the galley in the back and I told the FAs that it would be great if the captain would make an announcement along the lines of “Once the mechanics have finished replacing the part, we will be safe to fly and there no reason to be concerned about the safety of the plane…”. They said they were the first who wanted to be sure everything was fine, it’s not like they like to risk their life, but I insisted that the announcement would help a little. While mechanics changed the starter, some baggage handlers cherry-picked the suitcase from the hold. We finally took off at 3.35am [more than 10 hrs after original departure time]. Landing in Rome was at 5.05 pm, while original scheduled time was 8.15am. I
managed to get on the first flight available to my final destination (which was delayed too because of a strike in Rome) but only because I
know the airport very well and I’ve run like crazy through it.

Ogni volta che mi sposto, succede qualcosa…sarà il caso che rimanga un po’ a casa?!?🙂

Una risposta a “DL 0148 JFK-FCO: nightmarish experience…

  1. Sciopero a Roma? ma ke strano…

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