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9JAN DL 201 JNB-ATL diverts to the Ascension Island

9JAN DL 201 JNB-ATL diverts to the Ascension Island

Old Jan 10, 13, 10:06 am
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9JAN DL 201 JNB-ATL diverts to the Ascension Island

According to Delta.com it looks like DL201 9JAN diverted to the Ascension Islands (ASI) 7 hours into the flight. Best I can tell is DL 9978 a rescue ferry is headed to the Ascension Island according to flight aware. Left around 11pm eastern. Can't imagine there is much there besides a few hotels and the military base.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 11:44 am
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Please follow the discussion as the thread moves to the Delta SkyMiles forum. Ocn Vw 1K, Moderator, TravelBuzz.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 12:04 pm
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It looks like the rescue flight left ATL four hours late and DL is hoping for about an hour and a half turnaround at ASI. The original flight left JNB 58 minutes late, but that might not be unusual. What an inconvenient adventure for those passengers.

ADDED. Flight aware data look strange for this flight. They show 201 as having arrived in ATL but with some question marks and the speed and altitude data end about twelve minutes into the flight.

ADDED AGAIN. According to flight aware, the rescue aircraft is a 777 which was on the ground in ATL since arriving from DXB on January 1. I guess it's been in for maintenance as I don't think DL keeps a spare 777 sitting around. Also, the rescue flight left about eight hours ago for a nine hour flight, but it doesn't look like it's even halfway to ASI. [UPDATE. The rescue flight has landed on ASI but the flight aware flight path still ends in the middle of the Atlantic. Flight aware shows status unknown for DL 201, JNB-ATL but gives arrival time as if they landed in ATL on time.]

I suspect that some standby crew were called up late at night for a real adventure--an airport they're unlikely to ever visit again. If FAs rest on ATL-ASI, would they be legal to work the flight back immediately or would the original JNB be considered to be sufficiently rested (what's the hotel situation on ASI?) to work the rest of the flight back to ATL? Or if the plane is flying with just pilots from ATL to ASI, do they need a FA or two to handle pilot meals, doors, etc. even if they're not needed to work on the return rescue flight?

Didn't DL have a diversion to Alaska on a TPAC very recently? This sounds like an expensive pattern.

Last edited by MSPeconomist; Jan 10, 13 at 12:40 pm
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Old Jan 10, 13, 12:14 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
It looks like the rescue flight left ATL four hours late and DL is hoping for about an hour and a half turnaround at ASI. The original flight left JNB 58 minutes late, but that might not be unusual. What an inconvenient adventure for those passengers.
To be honest, assuming a lack of pressing commitments on the return, I'd kind of enjoy a pit stop at ASI if there was any chance to escape the airport. Assuming the logistical hurdles were not insurmountable, I'd enjoy the heck out of it.

But that's just me and my bias toward just such sorts of adventures.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 12:31 pm
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Originally Posted by mattsteg View Post
To be honest, assuming a lack of pressing commitments on the return, I'd kind of enjoy a pit stop at ASI if there was any chance to escape the airport. Assuming the logistical hurdles were not insurmountable, I'd enjoy the heck out of it.

But that's just me and my bias toward just such sorts of adventures.
I agree with you, although I wouldn't like being told to prepare for an emergency landing, especially if ditching at sea were a possibility. It's good that ASI seems to have a long runway.

I wonder whether the time elaspsed from JNB to ASI indicates normal speed or if they were going on just one engine on the 777. I can't easily tell without checking time zones.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 12:32 pm
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Originally Posted by mattsteg View Post
To be honest, assuming a lack of pressing commitments on the return, I'd kind of enjoy a pit stop at ASI if there was any chance to escape the airport. Assuming the logistical hurdles were not insurmountable, I'd enjoy the heck out of it.

But that's just me and my bias toward just such sorts of adventures.
I'd be surprised if passengers were allowed outside of a specific quarantine area as Ascension Island has very strict rules about even allowing visitors to enter.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 1:04 pm
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Here's the story on AvHerald: http://www.avherald.com/h?article=45bee9df&opt=0

Agree would love to see Ascension Island, but would be surprised if the passengers were allowed out of the airport/ hotel to roam.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 1:04 pm
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I'm as adventurous as the next guy, but I think it would take a decade and a lot of scotch before I could recall something like this as a fond anecdote. I'm veteran of more than 15 DL201 trips in recent years - some with adventures, but nothing like this.

See www.obsidian.co.ac for the complete list of accommodations - a couple of hostels and small hotel (motel really) featuring "about half" the rooms air conditioned!

Look forward to the reports and glad I won't be filing one!
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Old Jan 10, 13, 1:56 pm
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In my Navy flying days before Delta, I spent a fair amount of time on Ascension Island....trust me, it's not going to become a tourist mecca anytime soon.

The airport (Wideawake Field) is a military field. The only way for non-military to get in there is aboard a biweekly Royal Air Force transport flight that they reserve a handful of seats on for paying civilians. There's no Skyclub there. There's one 'hotel' in Georgetown (see the link in the post above) which has a dozen or so rooms. There is no public transportation, but I believe the hotel operator has a few rental cars. The majority of the people on the island are military/contractors. There are some 'workers' who are imported from the island of St Helena a couple hundred miles away.....Ascension itself had no indigenous population when it was discovered.

The island is formed almost entirely by red volcanic rock and dust. A while back they imported mesquite and prickly pear from the US just to get some scrub brush to grow there. At higher altitudes on Green Mountain, there is a lush rain forest and that's worth a trip. There's very limited beach area as a lot of the shore is clifflike and rocky, but there are at least two small coves where you can swim and the snorkeling is very good. Of course when I was there the male to female ratio was about 20-1, so the beach was a little light on "scenery". There was a also a stretch of sandy shore that was a famous nesting ground for sea turtles.

The final highlight of the island was its Golf course which had been voted the "Worst Golf Course" on earth for something like 20 straight years by some magazine. Its fairways were completely made up of the same red volcanic rock and dust that characterizes the whole island. When you started play, they would hand you a small square of 'astroturf' that you could carry with you and place your ball on to limit damage to your club. The greens were volcanic rock and dust, but they would mix in some diesel oil and tamp it down to give it a smother surface.

I think there might be one small bar in Georgetown. I remember a few decent nights knocking back a couple at the 'Volcano Club' bar on the military base playing shuffleboard with my crew. Those detachments made a good story to regale my future grandkids with, but I surely wouldn't pay to go there.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 2:17 pm
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Departure of the rescue 777 from ASI is delayed again from 7:00 pm to 7:45 pm to 9:30 pm now, scheduled to arrive at ATL at 3:25 am (and probably be kept on board until CBP arrives for work in the morning around 6 am). I hope the rescue bird isn't also having a mechanical; for DL to have two big expensive airplanes standed at ASI would be an expensive and inconvenient mess.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 2:39 pm
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Originally Posted by Down3Green View Post
The island is formed almost entirely by red volcanic rock and dust.

There's no Skyclub there.
Made me

Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
. . . . . scheduled to arrive at ATL at 3:25 am (and probably be kept on board until CBP arrives for work in the morning around 6 am).
GOOD LORD - I certainly hope not, after all they've probably been through! Is it possible they weren't allowed off the plane at ASI? How many hours total were they stuck there?
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Old Jan 10, 13, 2:40 pm
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Originally Posted by Down3Green View Post
In my Navy flying days before Delta, I spent a fair amount of time on Ascension Island....trust me, it's not going to become a tourist mecca anytime soon.

The airport (Wideawake Field) is a military field. The only way for non-military to get in there is aboard a biweekly Royal Air Force transport flight that they reserve a handful of seats on for paying civilians. There's no Skyclub there. There's one 'hotel' in Georgetown (see the link in the post above) which has a dozen or so rooms. There is no public transportation, but I believe the hotel operator has a few rental cars. The majority of the people on the island are military/contractors. There are some 'workers' who are imported from the island of St Helena a couple hundred miles away.....Ascension itself had no indigenous population when it was discovered.

The island is formed almost entirely by red volcanic rock and dust. A while back they imported mesquite and prickly pear from the US just to get some scrub brush to grow there. At higher altitudes on Green Mountain, there is a lush rain forest and that's worth a trip. There's very limited beach area as a lot of the shore is clifflike and rocky, but there are at least two small coves where you can swim and the snorkeling is very good. Of course when I was there the male to female ratio was about 20-1, so the beach was a little light on "scenery". There was a also a stretch of sandy shore that was a famous nesting ground for sea turtles.

The final highlight of the island was its Golf course which had been voted the "Worst Golf Course" on earth for something like 20 straight years by some magazine. Its fairways were completely made up of the same red volcanic rock and dust that characterizes the whole island. When you started play, they would hand you a small square of 'astroturf' that you could carry with you and place your ball on to limit damage to your club. The greens were volcanic rock and dust, but they would mix in some diesel oil and tamp it down to give it a smother surface.

I think there might be one small bar in Georgetown. I remember a few decent nights knocking back a couple at the 'Volcano Club' bar on the military base playing shuffleboard with my crew. Those detachments made a good story to regale my future grandkids with, but I surely wouldn't pay to go there.
^^^ Great post!
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Old Jan 10, 13, 3:28 pm
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The rescue flight is now in the air, as of 8:37 pm, and due to land in ATL at 3:07 am. I count 19 hours and 12 minutes on the ground at ASI or 21 hours and 7 minutes late into ATL.

Even if they were allowed to deplane at ASI (which normally requires written permission from the island's administrator to visit, even for transit), hotel capacity on the island seems to be about 50 rooms at most with very limited restaurants and bars, probably not enough to seat everyone from the flight. I wonder whether pilots and FAs (the flight would be double-crewed given its length?) were given hotel rooms if people were allowed off the aircraft. Even if they could get off, there wouldn't be an airport terminal even with standing room space. I'm guessing that lavatory facilities were also very limited. Plus, if hotel rooms aren't necessarily air conditioned, the "terminal" might not be either. Sitting in the sun at temperatures approaching 30 Centigrade would not be fun or even healthy. A full 777 would have increased the island's population by almost half.

Does anyone know when a large commercial plane last landed at ASI?
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Old Jan 10, 13, 3:38 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Departure of the rescue 777 from ASI is delayed again from 7:00 pm to 7:45 pm to 9:30 pm now, scheduled to arrive at ATL at 3:25 am (and probably be kept on board until CBP arrives for work in the morning around 6 am). I hope the rescue bird isn't also having a mechanical; for DL to have two big expensive airplanes standed at ASI would be an expensive and inconvenient mess.
Originally Posted by davetravels View Post
GOOD LORD - I certainly hope not, after all they've probably been through! Is it possible they weren't allowed off the plane at ASI? How many hours total were they stuck there?
I'm told there's a facility at ASI that can handle up to 300 people where they were housed during the unanticipated layover. As a possible diversion point for TATL aircraft, and with a runway long enough to accommodate the space shuttle in its day, they are prepared for such things & for additional provisions to be brought in quickly if needed.

Furthermore, DL can make arrangements for CBP to meet the flight on arrival back in ATL, they just have to alert them to the expected time. They should not have to be held on board.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 3:39 pm
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DL.com says it is in flight, but Flightaware doesn't show N703DN or N705DN being in flight.

This is a very strange incident, and yes it was last week I believe where a 744 flying ATL-NRT diverted to ANC, and a spare 744 sitting in DTW was ferried to ANC.
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