Delta Air Lines used to be known for its excellent operational performance, but the Atlanta-based airline no longer appears to be consistently operating its scheduled holiday operations. What’s happening?
Delta cancels dozens of flights over Easter
Delta has canceled 74 flights to date today, compared to five American cancellations and one United cancellation. These operational issues are expected to persist at least until tomorrow. So don’t expect flights to be back to normal tomorrow.
That’s a significant number of cancellations, but what makes it worse is that Delta seems to be doing a ritual of having trouble over holidays. Delta had a Thanksgiving meltdown with over 600 cancellations largely attributed to the coronavirus. Then Delta also canceled dozens of flights over Christmas. And now it’s Easter …
Delta temporarily overrides the seat lock
Delta is the only major U.S. airline to consistently block seats in all staterooms, and we know the airline will end this policy on May 1, 2021. Well, for Sunday and Monday, Delta will lift its current seat blocking policy in order to be able to do so to accommodate as many customers as possible.
I see both sides here, but gosh this is bad shape:
- On the one hand, I can understand that the priority is getting as many people on planes as possible when you have major operational problems. Delta claims an “overwhelming” number of people have been rebooked for same day trips
- On the flip side, many people go out of their way to book Delta and even pay extra because of this seat blocking policy
Delta has to do something essential and proactive for those who do not get a seat next to them as promised, as this has been a differentiating point for the airline.
Why is Delta having operational issues?
Delta claims that these cancellations were due to “various factors” including:
- Large number of employee vaccinations
- Pilots return to active status
At the most basic level, this is due to a lack of pilot staff:
- Due to the large number of pilots who have retired and are leaving early, pilots must be retrained on new aircraft and this is not an overnight process
- Delta doesn’t have enough pilots to fly the correct types of aircraft, especially narrow-body aircraft
- Under normal circumstances this is not a problem, but when Delta tries to increase capacity for the holidays it becomes problematic
- This problem is exacerbated by Delta’s seat blocking policy, which allows the airline to offer significantly less capacity than its competitors
To be clear, it is perfectly fair if Delta is unable to add capacity and is spread out too thinly. The question is why the airline keeps rescheduling itself – this is the third time this has happened while on vacation. The airline promised to study after Thanksgiving but still hasn’t.
Delta faces some significant operational issues over Easter as the airline canceled dozens of flights due to an ongoing shortage of pilots. In order to accommodate as many passengers as possible, the airline is also suspending its typical seat blocking policy.
Of course, it’s a difficult time for airlines in terms of planning and staffing, but this is the third time since the end of last year that Delta has been in such a situation while American Airlines and United have not. What’s happening?
Can anyone understand why Delta doesn’t learn from its mistakes? Have OMAAT readers been affected by these operational problems?
(Tip of the hat to see from the wing)