Cargo > People?!

Old Jun 1, 15, 6:47 pm
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Cargo > People?!

Anyone else ever had Delta *intentionally* un-load their luggage (plus many others') or bump many people due to some mysterious cargo?

Totally strange series of events that I've never experienced before in 20+ years of flying, on a flight last night.

At gate, prior to boarding, gate agent announces that the flight is "oversold" and they need 10 volunteers, who will each get $400 compensation plus the next flight. What's odd is that the upgrade/standby screen shows there are 20 unassigned seats in coach, but nevermind that at this moment.

10 people volunteer. We start boarding. I am in line to board and then the gate agent announces they need 5 more volunteers "because we are oversold." These folks get $600 each and the next flight. (The tally is now 15 people, if you're playing along at home).

I am among the first to board and have a window seat. Notice a larger-than-I-usually-see crowd of tarmac folks (luggage/tug operators, including a guy with a supervisor vest on) next to the plane, talking into walkie-talkies. Whatevs. A few minutes into boarding, head flight attendant gets on the loudspeaker to announce that "I am not sure if the gate agent told you what is going on, but this is a payload optimized flight. If you cannot fit your carry-on luggage in the overhead bin, unfortunately we cannot put it down below today, and you and your stuff cannot fly today." What a payload optimized flight is is not explained.

I happen to see my checked luggage get loaded into the plane, quit looking outside the window, and start reading my magazine. I keep waiting for people to finish boarding because the plane is 1/3 empty. There are empty overhead bins, empty seats in nearly every row, you name it. They announce they are closing the boarding doors.

We sit on the tarmac. The pilot gets on and says they are waiting some weight readings and a cargo/weight issue. We wait a little more.

They do the safety briefing. They say we are about to take off. We put our devices on airplane mode. We wait a little bit more at the gate, on the tarmac, with the boarding doors closed (etc).

Then they open the boarding doors to the plane. The flight attendant in first class (I am close by in coach) tells a man that "the gate agent has something to say."

Gate agent gets on. Apologizes. Says they need 3 more people to volunteer to take a different flight. Will get on the next flight, plus $800 each (the tally is now 18, by the way). No 'explanation' given other than we all assume it has something to do with this mysterious cargo situation.

I seriously consider it but have to make a work meeting early Monday AM and I also don't want to have to lose my checked luggage temporarily, so I stay aboard. 3 people volunteer. We eventually take off and make it to Boston.

Upon landing after 4+ hours of flying, we all turn our phones on again (no airplane mode) and suddenly the plane fills with dings. Many of us have gotten voicemails and text messages from Delta that our luggage did not make the plane....myself included (even after I watched them load my bag...when I wasn't paying attention, they obviously off-loaded it). We are instructed to go to the baggage handling office to fill out paperwork to get it delivered today.

Go to baggage handling office. There are 42 people in line with me from my flight. Yes. They pulled 42 people's luggage off the plane. Including many Sky Priority (acc. to line chatter). One guy in line with me tells me that there were 6 passenger bags that weren't pulled off the flight that he saw go around the carousel. 6 bags.

So...gold bars? Secret government military tool? Plane repair component for a plane in BOS?

For the amount of money and energy Delta expended to get people and our stuff off that flight....had to be something super-critical, no?
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Old Jun 1, 15, 6:53 pm
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What was the route? [OP said to BOS but didn't suggest where the flight started.] Aircraft type? Weather and time of day?
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Old Jun 1, 15, 6:58 pm
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Originally Posted by Lefleur View Post
So...gold bars? Secret government military tool? Plane repair component for a plane in BOS?

For the amount of money and energy Delta expended to get people and our stuff off that flight....had to be something super-critical, no?
10 People x $400 = $4,000
5 People x $600 = $3,000
3 People x $800 = $2,400

18 people rebooked on other routes

42 Bags x $20 currier $840
42 Bags x $50 Compensation $2,100

42 pissed off customers = more costly than $3,000 in baggage comp


Seems like whatever it was worth well in excess $15,000 to move it. I wonder why this mystery object wouldn't go via a freight carrier? Or for that price, a charter flight.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 7:05 pm
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A race horse? I know some of them fly KLM for international races. Usually there's a trainer/keeper/groom/vet down in cargo with them on long flights.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 7:12 pm
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This is genuinely interesting, seems odd it would be so last min that they would be begging people to get off the plane after it has boarded.

Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
A race horse? I know some of them fly KLM for international races. Usually there's a trainer/keeper/groom/vet down in cargo with them on long flights.
Seems unlikely it would be last minute though. Id imagine that any horses that needed to get to a race would have been booked and arranged quite a while in advance, allowing delta time to move people/luggage without having to ask people at the gate and on the plane
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Old Jun 1, 15, 7:28 pm
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They may have needed to load more fuel.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 7:31 pm
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Originally Posted by Beckles View Post
They may have needed to load more fuel.
And hay.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 8:36 pm
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Originally Posted by Lefleur View Post
... A few minutes into boarding, head flight attendant gets on the loudspeaker to announce that "I am not sure if the gate agent told you what is going on, but this is a payload optimized flight. If you cannot fit your carry-on luggage in the overhead bin, unfortunately we cannot put it down below today, and you and your stuff cannot fly today." What a payload optimized flight is is not explained. ...
If you state your cities it might provide explanation, or maybe it won't and you'll never know. There are routes in the system that are commonly payload optimized. Or any route could be subject to it under certain conditions.

In general, payload optimized means there is excess cargo on that route (cargo is more profitable than pax weight). I've seen it on a few flights in terms of nonrev travel, the airline will prioritize cargo weight over people (standby/nonrevs). Once had a friend left behind in SCL for 'fish, fruit & flowers.' Faced it out of FCO where the station would allow only 1 of party of 2 NRSA given weight restrictions, no exceptions. Each pax on the flight is assigned a certain weight of person + bags.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 8:41 pm
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Based on it being a 4+ hour flight that arrived last night, there are only two possibilities:

DL 1843 SLC-BOS on an A320: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/D...313Z/KSLC/KBOS

DL 2534 LAX-BOS on a B738: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/D...313Z/KSLC/KBOS

Those are the only domestic cities DL serves from BOS that are over 3 hours away; I don't think it was trans-atlantic because the flights from AMS, LHR, and CDG all arrive before 5 PM.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 8:42 pm
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Yes, it was very odd! Now I just wish I knew what we were carrying.

SLC-BOS, Flt. 1843.

I've been on flights where we've had to carry extra fuel - and/or some luggage hasn't made it (and I've been on a few regional planes over the years where we were overweight and some folks were denied boarding/off-loaded or people were resat) for various reasons - but not a decent sized jet! Clear and warm (but not super hot) in SLC when we left.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 8:47 pm
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Originally Posted by PRWeezer View Post
If you state your cities it might provide explanation, or maybe it won't and you'll never know. There are routes in the system that are commonly payload optimized. Or any route could be subject to it under certain conditions.

In general, payload optimized means there is excess cargo on that route (cargo is more profitable than pax weight). I've seen it on a few flights in terms of nonrev travel, the airline will prioritize cargo weight over people (standby/nonrevs). Once had a friend left behind in SCL for 'fish, fruit & flowers.' Faced it out of FCO where the station would allow only 1 of party of 2 NRSA given weight restrictions, no exceptions. Each pax on the flight is assigned a certain weight of person + bags.
This is interesting. I had never heard of this phrase before. The interesting thing to me is that they weren't offloading standbys or non-revs (if they had even been boarded to begin with). They paid nearly 20 people, on paying tickets (presumably - I don't know how it works but I've never heard of standbys or non-revs getting to volunteer for another flight for $) to get off the flight, including some who had actually already boarded/prepared for take-off.

What kind of cargo would be coming SLC-BOS that would be more valuable than passengers? Any ideas?

I was really cranky at 1 AM standing in line at baggage assistance (as were many others) but now I am more just truly curious about what the cargo was!
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Old Jun 1, 15, 8:47 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
A race horse? I know somhe of them fly KLM for international races. Usually there's a trainer/keeper/groom/vet down in cargo with them on long flights.
There are 2 private jets at LEX which are for horses. They are custom 727's. H. E. Sutton is the company.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 8:52 pm
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Originally Posted by LoganFlyer View Post
Based on it being a 4+ hour flight that arrived last night, there are only two possibilities:

DL 1843 SLC-BOS on an A320: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/D...313Z/KSLC/KBOS
A320 (notoriously short-legged) flying a circuitous route to avoid weather out of SLC (relatively high-altitude), I'm going to stick with my original answer, fuel.
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Old Jun 1, 15, 8:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Lefleur View Post
This is interesting. I had never heard of this phrase before. The interesting thing to me is that they weren't offloading standbys or non-revs (if they had even been boarded to begin with). They paid nearly 20 people, on paying tickets (presumably - I don't know how it works but I've never heard of standbys or non-revs getting to volunteer for another flight for $) to get off the flight, including some who had actually already boarded/prepared for take-off.

What kind of cargo would be coming SLC-BOS that would be more valuable than passengers? Any ideas?

I was really cranky at 1 AM standing in line at baggage assistance (as were many others) but now I am more just truly curious about what the cargo was!
Oh didn't mean to confuse, nonrevs would not be paid to get off the flight, they would just be off-loaded if boarded & the plane was heavy. ETA: now that you mention the route it's not the same as an international flight that would face cargo/fuel issues.

Very likely not a horse.

Last edited by PRWeezer; Jun 1, 15 at 9:22 pm
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Old Jun 1, 15, 9:04 pm
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I'm going to also say fuel was the primary culpit. While I don't doubt they had some cargo on board, Delta has some of the oldest A320s around. Weather enroute and altitude at SLC on a almost transcon route definitely means people are going to get bumped on a A320.
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