Monday, September 27, 2010

Delta 4951

When I read about the Delta flight 4951 having an emergency landing due to a landing gear problem at JFK on Saturday night Sept 25, 2010, I gasped. I was just on that flight the night before. I had flown on Friday from San Diego to Atlanta. The second leg of the trip was from Atlanta to White Plains, NY. What made this notable was that 4951 had other problems on Friday night as well. When I arrived at Gate C-38 on Friday for a 5:30pm flight, we didn’t board at the scheduled time. As best as I can remember, we were alerted at 5:30pm that boarding time was delayed due to a mechanical problem. Two of the men standing nearby asked the woman behind the desk what the problem was. She stated that it was the alt….. Then her voice trailed off. One of the men standing near me stated that he had been delayed an 1 hour and a half late last week because of a mechanical problem. Shortly thereafter, the estimated departure time was changed to 6:00pm. When the men standing around asked for an update, she responded that the repair had been made, but they were waiting for someone to sign off on the job. The next time I looked, the departure time was changed again to 6:06pm.

Not long after this, a flight attendant came out the door to the plane with his suitcase. Recognizing this as a gate change, I immediately gathered my belongings to see where he was going. Then the woman at the desk announced the gate change to C-33. We all followed the flight attendant to that gate. When we arrived at the gate, the woman behind this desk requested that all the passengers for White Plains take a seat while paper work was completed for the plane change. It wasn’t long before we could board. After we were all in our seats, the pilot announced that we had to wait for the plane to be re-fueled. The pilot stated that we needed 14,000 pounds and he had only 3800, which would only get us as far as Virginia. His demeanor was very pleasant. While the wait seemed interminable, it was probably five minutes. Then a young woman came along and connected the giant fuel hose into the ground. After a long day, I really didn’t pay much attention to the flight once we were in the air. I think the pilot announced that the flight took 1hr and 55 minutes.

Regarding the news accounts on the Internet about the Saturday night emergency landing of Delta 4951, some people complained about a female flight attendant constantly calling for people to keep their heads down. If it was the same woman, Teresa, who was the flight attendant on my plane, I commend her for paying such good attention to the welfare of her passengers. During my flight the night before, I was a little chilled and draped my sweater across my chest. She noticed it in passing and offered me a blanket. I’ve never, in over 25 years, had any flight attendant offer me a blanket that I didn’t request. While some jaded travelers might think this is a little thing, her attention to detail was, again, commendable. Also, because of the narrow steep stairs for deplaning at White Plains, the male flight attendant, John, helped me by holding my bag and C-PAP (a small but heavy Sleep Apnea machine) while I climbed down and handed them to me when I was on the ground. That also never happened before. On this trip, it was noticeable how pleasant all the Delta personnel were. It really helps a traveler when they feel that the people running the show care.

I’m happy and grateful that no one was injured on Saturday night’s flight. However, in light of the men’s comments when my DELTA 4951 flight was delayed on Friday night, maybe the Delta CEO should do an “Undercover Boss” show in Atlanta.

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