DL1406 (02/26) Cancelled At Gate

Old Feb 27, 2023, 11:01 pm
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DL1406 (02/26) Cancelled At Gate

So, yesterday (Sunday) was...interesting. I've already resolved this with Delta (broadly) to my satisfaction, but the whole mess has left a bad taste in my mouth.

I was booked ORF-JFK-MCO yesterday in (paid) F. I was on 1406 JFK-MCO, and on an SDC check (I always check what pops, even if I'm not looking to move) I was not able to move to 1524 (about an hour earlier) without paying an extra $50-odd dollars.

I went to the gate to await boarding, and just after 1130 (when boarding was scheduled to start) we were informed that the flight had been cancelled due to a lack of pilots and that we were being moved to the next flight (DL1447 which was quoted as being at 1959), though we had to handle rebooking. I managed to quickly get on the 1610 flight (DL1214 - I snagged one of the two remaining F seats on that flight by the time the gate agent was done talking - this seems like I got lucky since a few minutes afterwards I got a text saying there were "no comparable flights available within 48 hours") and got to MCO just before 2000. As I was boarding, one of the other pax who was moved said that the flight was cancelled due to a load factor (only like 50 pax were on it). The two excuses are, of course, not mutually exclusive - a general pilot/crew shortage would've left a low load factor flight vulnerable to drawing the short straw, for example. However, if they were short on crew it would sure have been nice for them to figure it out a few hours in advance so those with longer layovers could have flipped to DL1214 - the flight I wasn't able to SDC to for free despite the rules saying I should be able to (by the time we were informed, 1214 had already left) - or opted for alternate routings which would have minimized my delay (by the time I was informed there was nothing else that would have gotten me to MCO before the direct flight, probably due to a "schedule crater" between flight banks).

I did ask Delta for a voucher (the mess did kill dinner plans I'd worked out; had this not been the case, I would likely have played IRROPS pinball - there was at least one routing via MIA and I might have found one via DTW - and been happy for the free MQMs) and got one...

...but I'm still a bit grumpy at how the whole thing was handled (and I'll admit that I had it relatively easy). From a mercenary perspective, this would normally have been a slam dunk win, and I didn't miss a wedding or birthday dinner, just dinner with a friend. But showing up at the gate to be told your flight won't be going after all just doesn't feel cricket; if nothing else, the lack of advance notice really has room to constrain travel options. And I know there are people for whom this would've been messy.
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Last edited by GrayAnderson; Feb 27, 2023 at 11:07 pm
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Old Feb 27, 2023, 11:39 pm
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Airline pilot here (though not DL). The industry has a major shortage of pilots, which turns into a major shortage of reserves. When a pilot calls out sick or unavailable for a particular flight, it falls to a reserve. If more than 1 or 2 flights require a reserve, that then depletes the reserves. Airline management is scheduling way more than it can handle. So this situation is sadly not surprising to me at all. Scheduling (via management) refuses to cancel a flight in advance knowing it can not be crewed. They will wait until the very last minute hoping someone will pick up a trip on their day off, which is shunned in the airline industry. Im sorry this happened to you. Even though Im a pilot, I frequently buy F on leisure trips and experience these same frustrations.
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Old Feb 27, 2023, 11:43 pm
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Originally Posted by GrayAnderson
So, yesterday (Sunday) was...interesting. I've already resolved this with Delta (broadly) to my satisfaction, but the whole mess has left a bad taste in my mouth.

I was booked ORF-JFK-MCO yesterday in (paid) F. I was on 1406 JFK-MCO, and on an SDC check (I always check what pops, even if I'm not looking to move) I was not able to move to 1524 (about an hour earlier) without paying an extra $50-odd dollars.

I went to the gate to await boarding, and just after 1130 (when boarding was scheduled to start) we were informed that the flight had been cancelled due to a lack of pilots and that we were being moved to the next flight (DL1447 which was quoted as being at 1959), though we had to handle rebooking. I managed to quickly get on the 1610 flight (DL1214 - I snagged one of the two remaining F seats on that flight by the time the gate agent was done talking - this seems like I got lucky since a few minutes afterwards I got a text saying there were "no comparable flights available within 48 hours") and got to MCO just before 2000. As I was boarding, one of the other pax who was moved said that the flight was cancelled due to a load factor (only like 50 pax were on it). The two excuses are, of course, not mutually exclusive - a general pilot/crew shortage would've left a low load factor flight vulnerable to drawing the short straw, for example. However, if they were short on crew it would sure have been nice for them to figure it out a few hours in advance so those with longer layovers could have flipped to DL1214 - the flight I wasn't able to SDC to for free despite the rules saying I should be able to (by the time we were informed, 1214 had already left) - or opted for alternate routings which would have minimized my delay (by the time I was informed there was nothing else that would have gotten me to MCO before the direct flight, probably due to a "schedule crater" between flight banks).

I did ask Delta for a voucher (the mess did kill dinner plans I'd worked out; had this not been the case, I would likely have played IRROPS pinball - there was at least one routing via MIA and I might have found one via DTW - and been happy for the free MQMs) and got one...

...but I'm still a bit grumpy at how the whole thing was handled (and I'll admit that I had it relatively easy). From a mercenary perspective, this would normally have been a slam dunk win, and I didn't miss a wedding or birthday dinner, just dinner with a friend. But showing up at the gate to be told your flight won't be going after all just doesn't feel cricket; if nothing else, the lack of advance notice really has room to constrain travel options. And I know there are people for whom this would've been messy.
I was on the same flight and just posted about this in the compensation thread. It was one of the most bizarre cancellations ever - clear day, not the busiest of days, no unusual events (covid outbreaks, etc.), no maintenance issues. I was walking from the gate to the skyclub about 35 minutes prior when suddenly the app pops up the cancellation. In my case, I was local and travelling in poor man's first class (aka row 13). I did have an event - my father's 80th birthday dinner. So, I quickly rebooked to an LGA flight leaving around 2:30pm because the JFK flight would have missed the dinner. But I couldn't get Delta to return my luggage - absolutely no effort to expedite my bag back from the tarmac despite probably having at least 30-45 minutes that I could wait. That meant I had to buy a change of clothes for dinner since the 8pm arrival time of my baggage was well after the dinner start time. It also eant I had to return to the airport later that evening. Yes, I'm pissed and more evidence on how far Delta has fallen in every way. It wasted several hours of time and added unnecessary stress. To make matters worse, my taxi got into a fender bender on the way from JFK to LGA. I have requested at least for a reimbursement of my taxi from JFK to LGA, but like all things Delta customer service wise, it will take at least 3 months for an email response. I fell from Diamond last year to Platinum this year (due to virtually no business travel). Frankly, I'm considering switching some of my personal travel as well. Had Delta let me know in advance, I could have simply switched to the LGA flight before heading to JFK which would have been a much quicker ride. Let me know if you end up with anything for your complaint. I'm guessing we will both be waiting weeks.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 1:42 am
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Originally Posted by dave456
I was on the same flight and just posted about this in the compensation thread. It was one of the most bizarre cancellations ever - clear day, not the busiest of days, no unusual events (covid outbreaks, etc.), no maintenance issues. I was walking from the gate to the skyclub about 35 minutes prior when suddenly the app pops up the cancellation. In my case, I was local and travelling in poor man's first class (aka row 13). I did have an event - my father's 80th birthday dinner. So, I quickly rebooked to an LGA flight leaving around 2:30pm because the JFK flight would have missed the dinner. But I couldn't get Delta to return my luggage - absolutely no effort to expedite my bag back from the tarmac despite probably having at least 30-45 minutes that I could wait. That meant I had to buy a change of clothes for dinner since the 8pm arrival time of my baggage was well after the dinner start time. It also eant I had to return to the airport later that evening. Yes, I'm pissed and more evidence on how far Delta has fallen in every way. It wasted several hours of time and added unnecessary stress. To make matters worse, my taxi got into a fender bender on the way from JFK to LGA. I have requested at least for a reimbursement of my taxi from JFK to LGA, but like all things Delta customer service wise, it will take at least 3 months for an email response. I fell from Diamond last year to Platinum this year (due to virtually no business travel). Frankly, I'm considering switching some of my personal travel as well. Had Delta let me know in advance, I could have simply switched to the LGA flight before heading to JFK which would have been a much quicker ride. Let me know if you end up with anything for your complaint. I'm guessing we will both be waiting weeks.
You can get a voucher for transportation between JFK/LGA. Just ask at Skyclub, HelpDesk or find a Red coat.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 5:54 am
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Originally Posted by dave456
Yes, I'm pissed and more evidence on how far Delta has fallen in every way.
Hardly a defense of DL, but I took a look through the DOT's stats for delays and cancellations from their latest stats (published in Jan 2023, covering data through Nov 2022). I couldn't find YTD cancellation rate, but the YTD on time data through Nov 2022 is below. Frustrating as it may be, DL is actually (slightly) ahead of AA and UA - so while sure, you could switch, the data doesn't indicate that AA or UA's ops will be any better. Now, customer service wise, AA's or UA's recovery may be better and they may be better about communication, etc. - but I don't think there's any empirical way to validate that.

On time rate (I skipped HA since their numbers just aren't a fair benchmark):
  • AA: 77.4%
  • DL: 82.5%
  • UA: 79.4%
  • B6: 65.2%
  • WN: 74.4%
On the other hand, comparing post-COVID vs. pre-COVID DL is absolutely a fair argument, since they used to be bulletproof operationally - but like so many segments of the economy, they're having a tough time rebuilding.
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Last edited by Cory6188; Feb 28, 2023 at 6:02 am
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 7:14 am
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Originally Posted by Cory6188
Hardly a defense of DL, but I took a look through the DOT's stats for delays and cancellations from their latest stats (published in Jan 2023, covering data through Nov 2022). I couldn't find YTD cancellation rate, but the YTD on time data through Nov 2022 is below. Frustrating as it may be, DL is actually (slightly) ahead of AA and UA - so while sure, you could switch, the data doesn't indicate that AA or UA's ops will be any better. Now, customer service wise, AA's or UA's recovery may be better and they may be better about communication, etc. - but I don't think there's any empirical way to validate that.

On time rate (I skipped HA since their numbers just aren't a fair benchmark):
  • AA: 77.4%
  • DL: 82.5%
  • UA: 79.4%
  • B6: 65.2%
  • WN: 74.4%
On the other hand, comparing post-COVID vs. pre-COVID DL is absolutely a fair argument, since they used to be bulletproof operationally - but like so many segments of the economy, they're having a tough time rebuilding.
This is true but Delta has had a terrible week. 50-100+ cancellations every day while the three other majors are under 20 a day. It started with the blizzard in MSP but turned into a pilot scheduling fiasco.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 7:33 am
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Originally Posted by DLASflyer
This is true but Delta has had a terrible week. 50-100+ cancellations every day while the three other majors are under 20 a day. It started with the blizzard in MSP but turned into a pilot scheduling fiasco.
True and this wasn't weather related. It was a cancellation at T-35 due to lack of a pilot at one of their largest hubs. Also mainline not regional (where the industry pilot shortages are more severe). You'd think they would have some pilots on reserve. Since the flight was only a little more than half full my guess is they felt it more economical to cancel inconveniencing everyone on the flight.

To the poster who commented about the voucher to LGA, the need help desk had well over 50 people and the skyclub had a large line with only 1-2 agents. The gate wasn't dealing with any recommendations. I went to baggage to attempt to get my bag unsuccessfully. In fact I was more or less laughed at about getting my bag back. I'd love to have a conversation with the JFK station manager. The Terminal 2/4 consolidation project is a lesson in poor planning and the staff attitude has taken a nosedive.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 7:50 am
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Originally Posted by dave456
True and this wasn't weather related. It was a cancellation at T-35 due to lack of a pilot at one of their largest hubs. Also mainline not regional (where the industry pilot shortages are more severe). You'd think they would have some pilots on reserve. Since the flight was only a little more than half full my guess is they felt it more economical to cancel inconveniencing everyone on the flight.

To the poster who commented about the voucher to LGA, the need help desk had well over 50 people and the skyclub had a large line with only 1-2 agents. The gate wasn't dealing with any recommendations. I went to baggage to attempt to get my bag unsuccessfully. In fact I was more or less laughed at about getting my bag back. I'd love to have a conversation with the JFK station manager. The Terminal 2/4 consolidation project is a lesson in poor planning and the staff attitude has taken a nosedive.
I'm not sure how you think T2 could be replaced and T1 expanded differently. Sure it is a pain, but most construction involving facilities that must remain operational are.

Airlines canceling flights due to low loads is a myth. (at least for majors) The plane/crew is needed elsewhere after that flight. Canceling one flight can effect multiple flights through multiple hubs.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 8:00 am
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I can tell you 100% Delta does not cancel for loads. They will go with 1 passenger. This is less about them being nice but more because any cancelation is a down line nightmare. They now have a aircraft and crews in the wrong places. When they lose a hub like the weather issue in MSP it creates a massive pilot issue as they cant feed the crews from that hub into the system. A pilot might be starting a 4 or 5 day trip in MSP and never leaves. That can cause 15 flights to be uncovered. Delta has overall the lowest cancelation rate in the industry.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 8:37 am
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Originally Posted by dave456
I was on the same flight and just posted about this in the compensation thread. It was one of the most bizarre cancellations ever - clear day, not the busiest of days, no unusual events (covid outbreaks, etc.), no maintenance issues. I was walking from the gate to the skyclub about 35 minutes prior when suddenly the app pops up the cancellation. In my case, I was local and travelling in poor man's first class (aka row 13). I did have an event - my father's 80th birthday dinner. So, I quickly rebooked to an LGA flight leaving around 2:30pm because the JFK flight would have missed the dinner. But I couldn't get Delta to return my luggage - absolutely no effort to expedite my bag back from the tarmac despite probably having at least 30-45 minutes that I could wait. That meant I had to buy a change of clothes for dinner since the 8pm arrival time of my baggage was well after the dinner start time. It also eant I had to return to the airport later that evening. Yes, I'm pissed and more evidence on how far Delta has fallen in every way. It wasted several hours of time and added unnecessary stress. To make matters worse, my taxi got into a fender bender on the way from JFK to LGA. I have requested at least for a reimbursement of my taxi from JFK to LGA, but like all things Delta customer service wise, it will take at least 3 months for an email response. I fell from Diamond last year to Platinum this year (due to virtually no business travel). Frankly, I'm considering switching some of my personal travel as well. Had Delta let me know in advance, I could have simply switched to the LGA flight before heading to JFK which would have been a much quicker ride. Let me know if you end up with anything for your complaint. I'm guessing we will both be waiting weeks.
I tried to check LGA flights but the IRROPS page wouldn't let me check "same day, different airport".

I got a $175 voucher on a phone call (vs a $331 original ticket cost) the night of the flight. I'm a Plat, too, for reference.

And agreed on the strangeness of it all. I "expect" this with weather, MX issues, etc. What was really stunning was "Sorry, no pilots, no flight" vs the usual "Pilots running late, we're waiting for 30 minutes, sorry for the holdup".
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 8:41 am
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Originally Posted by Cory6188
Hardly a defense of DL, but I took a look through the DOT's stats for delays and cancellations from their latest stats (published in Jan 2023, covering data through Nov 2022). I couldn't find YTD cancellation rate, but the YTD on time data through Nov 2022 is below. Frustrating as it may be, DL is actually (slightly) ahead of AA and UA - so while sure, you could switch, the data doesn't indicate that AA or UA's ops will be any better. Now, customer service wise, AA's or UA's recovery may be better and they may be better about communication, etc. - but I don't think there's any empirical way to validate that.

On time rate (I skipped HA since their numbers just aren't a fair benchmark):
  • AA: 77.4%
  • DL: 82.5%
  • UA: 79.4%
  • B6: 65.2%
  • WN: 74.4%
On the other hand, comparing post-COVID vs. pre-COVID DL is absolutely a fair argument, since they used to be bulletproof operationally - but like so many segments of the economy, they're having a tough time rebuilding.
Well, and absolute OTP/CANX numbers aren't the issue. If it's weather or crew fatigue...fine, I get it. At the same time, if I have (say) 24-48 hours notice I can probably find a way to make lemonade with an "illegal" routing or something. It's the last-minute canx that doesn't allow people room to maneuver.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 10:26 am
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Originally Posted by dave456
True and this wasn't weather related. It was a cancellation at T-35 due to lack of a pilot at one of their largest hubs. Also mainline not regional (where the industry pilot shortages are more severe). You'd think they would have some pilots on reserve. Since the flight was only a little more than half full my guess is they felt it more economical to cancel inconveniencing everyone on the flight.

To the poster who commented about the voucher to LGA, the need help desk had well over 50 people and the skyclub had a large line with only 1-2 agents. The gate wasn't dealing with any recommendations. I went to baggage to attempt to get my bag unsuccessfully. In fact I was more or less laughed at about getting my bag back. I'd love to have a conversation with the JFK station manager. The Terminal 2/4 consolidation project is a lesson in poor planning and the staff attitude has taken a nosedive.
Ive been on many light load flights but the aircraft (and crew) was needed for the completely full return flight.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 10:31 am
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Originally Posted by GrayAnderson
I tried to check LGA flights but the IRROPS page wouldn't let me check "same day, different airport".
If you had called in, an agent probably would have checked LGA flights for you.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 12:12 pm
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Originally Posted by dave456
I fell from Diamond last year to Platinum this year (due to virtually no business travel). Frankly, I'm considering switching some of my personal travel as well.
Who are you going to switch to? I mean, really?
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 12:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Crossinator
If you had called in, an agent probably would have checked LGA flights for you.
This is a fair point, and I could probably have bothered upstairs. By that point...a Botanist martini in hand and lunch on my table won out (and I *did* consider returning to the Centurion Lounge, too...).
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