Delta Flight To London Without Water, Crew Dump Bottles Down The Toilet Every 20 Minutes

Attorney Jordan Acker, a trustee of the University of Michigan, took to social media to complain about his Detroit – London Heathrow flight on Delta. But it wasn’t one of the usual complaints – delays, long telephone hold times, lost or damaged bags – the seven and a half hour Airbus A330 flight, he said, lacked water.

According to crew on the aircraft, water had been an ongoing issue with the aircraft, though Delta did not confirm this.

According to an airline spokesperson,

We are aware of and are investigating this report which would fall far short of the experience we know our customers expect and deserve when traveling with Delta.

Airlines are faced with a tough choice when a non-safety item fails: do they cancel the flight, and inconvenience everyone, or fly without basic services but not compromising safety?

It seems the right choice here, if a maintenance delay alone won’t fix things, would be to offer customers a choice between flying without access to tank water (and compensating them, because they didn’t receive the product they purchased.. which includes access to a lav) or rebook, treating it as an involuntary denied boarding for compensation purposes. Ingenious solution by the crew though, hopefully there were enough bottles on board to keep passengers hydrates in addition to supplying the toilet.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The poster is making up things for effect. Vacuum system toilets do not require any water to operate. You can MEL the water system to a lav and it is still usable, no water is needed to be dumped in the toilet. Although when my airline does that we try to put a waterless hand sanitizer in place of the soap dispenser. But Sani-com wipes will suffice in a pinch.

  2. Incredible. If Delta knew this problem existed, why did they not have the aircraft serviced, or take it offline?

    A couple years ago I was at the SRQ airport ready to hop on the (short) ATL flight, and it was announced that one of the lavs wasn’t functioning, so we were given the choice to rebook at no cost on a later flight, or proceed on the scheduled flight. Why was this not offered to the DTW-LHR pax?

  3. Happened a few months ago to a family member on the Delta JFK-TLV flight. So 10 hours to Tel Aviv on a balky A330. Could be the same aircraft or it could be a systemic issue. At least we know Delta’s policy now about carrying on, no matter what.

  4. Probably the furthest thought from anyone’s mind but – with all the hygiene protocols for COVID-19, this didn’t seem to violate ANY of them?

  5. Delta’s main reason for existing is not to transport people. It’s to solve the social injustices in the US. Corporate doesn’t have time for this measly stuff.

  6. The aircraft did not leave Detroit with an INOP water system. Period. Full stop.

    To suggest otherwise is patently false but it is clear that is the type of journalism that Gary specializes in.

  7. Canceling a flight doesn’t mean customers are treated as “involuntary denied boarding for compensation purposes.” Flight cancellation compensation isn’t covered by DOT regulations which IDBs are. Airlines will likely compensate for a flight cancellation (including a full refund if the customer doesn’t end up flying) but this is nowhere near the same thing as an IDB.

    It’s important to get your facts straight before posting. This is how fake news travels.

  8. So Gary is exaggerating or not? The story would not surprise me if true as it seems we are going full steam ahead to Third World.

  9. I have said for the past several years (even before COVID) that DL was slipping and AA and UA were rising. I have had AA domestic flights delayed for similar issues and fixed. A whole week. . what does the FAA do again? Make me wonder what else isn’t working on a DL plane.

  10. I have been on a flight or two with only hand wipes in the bathrooms..Butwe got to our destination.. recently on anE-175 before boarding they announced use toilets in the airport as the one on board was broken..Luckily only a 1/2hour flight

  11. Rob: The poster was citing a flight attendant (who maybe did not know better).

    Tim: What is the source for your assertion? The thread clearly says this situation extends to a number of recent international flights served by this aircraft. It is entirely possible that the shortage of plane crew extends to maintenance and engineering teams as well.

  12. Greg,
    the opening reply challenges the accuracy of the statements that a passenger attributed to crew members.
    I for a fact know that Delta did not dispatch the aircraft with an INOP water system.
    To think that Delta or any other airline would do that for a solid week goes well beyond believable but is what you get when you take one person’s word – an attorney and repeat it WITHOUT verification – which is exactly what Gary has turned this blog into.

    This blog isn’t about news. It is about finding the most bizarre tweets that remotely have anything to do with them and repeat them hoping that there will be gullible people fall for them.

    It has nothing to with Delta but about Gary.

    Other journalists actually do their own research or verify the accuracy of what they write – but MOST of Gary’s anecdotal stories – whether it be food or service or wierd passenger behavior – are tweets of what other people write. No other site covers the garbage that Gary serves to his readers in a steady diet

    Gary isn’t a journalist. He produces the lowest quality aviation content on the internet in order to find some type of income. Anyone that isn’t capable of realizing that VFTW is the sewer of aviation internet doesn’t have much in critical thinking skills.

  13. Recently, I did something for the first time. I pooped in a plastic bag. Now I know that water in the toilet bowl and flushing are effective ways of reducing odor.

  14. Here for Tim Dunn’s “Delta is perfect” comments. “According to DOT statistics, Delta’s toilets flush 3% more efficient than American or United”…..

  15. Oh give it up, Tim. If Delta wants to confirm something or not to an actual person with an established blog, great. but you coming on the comments section and saying “My friend from a friend at Delta said and acting like you’re some kind of authority vs a person on the plane quoting people from the plane…” is ridiculous. Delta has a communications/spin department, let them reply.
    At least Gary’s source is a certified user on Twitter. What are you? A certified banned member of

    Delta dispatched a plane when they shouldn’t have. Period. Stop.

  16. and per “Vacuum systems not requiring water…” Sure, but anyone who’s flown a plane knows what the toilet looks like without the water flushing along with it. What a ridiculous counter: “Airplane toilets don’t require water” — GROSS

  17. TOTAL B*** S*** (no pun intended)! The airline has a minimum dispatch requirement for all flights both international and domestic. If there was a total system failure prior to departing DTW, then either a delay or another aircraft would be substituted depending on the circumstances. Once airborne and before entering the Atlantic tracks, the flight would have landed, most likely, at Boston or JFK where Delta maintains a large maintenance base. Otherwise, once on the track, the options are more limited and a return to Boston or JFK would have been initiated. If there was a total system failure past the half way point on the tracks, then dispatch, with the captain’s input, would decide the proper course of action… press on or turn back. IN ALL CASES, the captain has the final authority as to the safe operation of the aircraft and HIS/HER decision rules. IF the writer is just trying to stir up his readership among those who have NO CLUE about airline operations…then the writer has done so. My suggestion is for those who comment above…get your head out of your *** and take AMTRAK or Greyhound (let’s see how far you get!!) and to the writer…get the facts straight before acting like CNN. Yes… I agree…Leff left his brain in neutral while his fingers were typing at full speed ahead.

  18. Hey Win,
    Seems pretty obvious from a sink full of hand sanitizers, the crew on the flight announcing no water-related amenities on the flight, and someone actually on the plane listening to the crew and the pilot that Delta knew exactly what they were dispatching. Perhaps direct your weird anger toward Delta for dispatching that flight or you and Tim can reach out to Delta Public Relations and ask them to do their jobs.

  19. Having been on a BA flight LAX-LHR with a similar issues years ago I get it. Took off and no water in the lavoratories was working. Turns out they did not fill the tank at LAX. Diverted to Canada, spent 4 hours on the ground, took off and crew timed out, landed in Shannon Ireland and waited for “rescue” planes to pick up an A380s worth of passengers and take to LHR.

    So yep, ineptness happens.

  20. I hear Southwest’s flights to Europe are unrivaled. Sort of like Haverford College’s football team – undefeated for over 100 years.

  21. Lavatory flush, potable water and Wifi are three entirely separate systems on the Airbus 330. Two don’t even need water to operate.

  22. Sean M- True, but when an aircraft has issues with more than one of theses systems on an aircraft, it signifies a lack of proper maintenance – and when these same issues persist for several days, it signifies that the airline does not care.

  23. @David Miller – failure of multiple independent systems is unlikely (although not impossible) to be coincidental, and even less likely to have been MEL-ed on dispatch FROM a maintenance base to an international outstation (if that were even possible in the MEL). Certainly there was something wrong, but I highly doubt any AME would release (nor any captain accept) an aircraft with multiple unexplained system failures under MEL. Tweets rarely (if ever) tell the full story on technical issues.

  24. There simply is no evidence that there were repeated issues on any aircraft; anyone can make a tweet and there is absolutely no check to ensure that it is factual.

    A US commercial airline pilot does not have the authority to move an aircraft unless a dispatcher tells him the aircraft is cleared to fly. Once in the air, it is the Captain’s discretion as to whether to continue a flight or not – but that is FAR different from dispatching an aircraft with an INOP system in the first place.

    Neither American, Delta or United would dispatch an aircraft on a longhaul international flight with an inop water or lav system and certainly not for up to 14 flights – two flights/day for 7 days.

    It is beyond believable that there are people who honestly believe that ANY airline would do that even once – let alone flight after flight after flight.

    It is even more believable that Gary has built a trash talking airline blog out of the lowest and most base topics in the industry. No one devotes as much of their content to unproven, anecdotal stories based on content that can be found on the internet. It has nothing to do with Delta; American was the target of Gary’s ire for months on end. Southwest’s wierd passengers came before that. Who knows who is next.

    The best way to demand better content from Gary is to not read or reply to the trash he produces while not walking away from the 1% of content that is worth a reply.

  25. Sean M – Under NORMAL conditions, what you say is probably correct. With all of the issues prevalent today with air travel (cancelling of flights, under staffing) I suspect that aircraft with “minor” issues are staying in the air when they would normally be taken out of service to repair/fix issues. It appears that Delta would rather let the maintenance issues on this aircraft slide instead of fixing them. People need to quit making excuses and accepting excuses when they are not getting what they pay for – Delta is more concerned about the money they receive than the safety of their passengers.

  26. I was on this flight (correction to the post — it was Heathrow to DTW). There was no potable water. We were told about the lack of wifi at the gate and only heard of the lack water once on board. I have already received an email from Delta crediting me 10,000 bonus miles.

    I cannot speak to how long the issue has been going on, but my wife heard a flight attendant tell another passenger that the plane had to get to Detroit to be serviced.

    Nothing salacious in this article unless the original Twitter handle made up or misunderstood the part about this being a week-long problem.

  27. @David Miller – As a former AOC accountable manager for multiple airlines, my only comment on that is “if you think safety is expensive, think of the alternative”.

    The truth is somewhere in the middle between the tweeter’s assertions and the ideal scenario.

  28. Tim,
    And yet here you are… post after post. every 20 minutes, monitoring anything said about Delta that would reflect negatively on them. Even though you were fired by Delta… Go figure…

    Here are the actual facts:
    1. A Trustee at U of M (verified) tweeted that Delta dispatched a plane with an inop water system. That’s confirmed by announcements that coffee couldn’t be served, you can’t wash your hands, and the toilets won’t flush with water creating a bunch of Sh*T in the lavs despite the weird commentary that no one should care about that from the delta enthusiasts.
    That’s not uncommon on 1-2 hours flights within the USA, but VERY uncommon on an 8 hour flight TATL.
    2. Delta hasn’t said this did not happen. They don’t even want to respond to it. They have a PR team. Let them respond. You aren’t Delta’s PR team.

    If it was “joe Schmoe” tweeting that the pilot said this, sure. Maybe it shouldn’t be taken at face value. But it’s a verified U of M trustee. and he even provides photos of Delta be prepared enough to put the sanitary wipes in the water basin. If you fly enough domestically, you’ve seen this, but not transatlantic.

    Tim, take a break. Delta messed up. If you don’t want to read Gary’s blog, don’t read it. No one will miss you and your fake facts in any comments section across any blog.

  29. Tim Dunn wore out his welcome at crankyflier so he spews his drivel here.
    I wonder if its actually Ed Bastian posting under a Tim Dunn nom de plume.

  30. Twitter doesn’t require or mean that anything posted is accurate.
    Doesn’t matter who it is.

    Delta didn’t deny or confirm there is any truth to the story.

    Just like your assertion that I was fired from Delta which you can’t prove because it didn’t happen, there is no reason to believe someone from Michigan just because of his position.

    You ran with the article because you desperately want to find something to find fault with Delta about.

    Both the way, don’t you think it is more than a little illogical that I was fired from Delta and yet you think I run to their defense?

    Makes no more sense than believing that ANY US airline would dispatch a widebody jet on a longhaul international flight with no water or lav systems.

  31. Seems like Delta’s PR team runs like their airlines. late or not at all. They need to chime in here.

  32. I have flown on plenty of Delta Connection, SkyWest-operated CRJ-200s WITHOUT water and even WITHOUT a functioning lavatory. WestJet flies De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 prop planes on 2-hour flights with their version of first-class and NO WATER.

  33. FNT,
    we aren’t talking about CRJs. I have too.
    And anyone that has logged any time in the air has had lavs or the water system fail in-flight.

    The issue is not either of those things.

    The issue is the claim that Delta or any of the big 3 dispatched a longhaul international flight not once but day after day for a week without operating water or lavs.

    It is as unbelievable – because it isn’t true – as thinking that I was fired from Delta so now I make a career of defending them.

    I only defend logic – which is clearly lacking in this discussion – from the minute the topic was posted by Gary.

    And feel free to read Cranky Flier. I have submitted multiple posts on there this week.

    Since you brought up CF, Gary might want to look west to the articles that CF posts – a whole lot less quantity and multiple and multiples of times more quality and data.

  34. @ MaxPower

    “Here are the actual facts:
    1. A Trustee at U of M (verified) tweeted that Delta dispatched a plane with an inop water system.”

    NO – his original tweet did NOT claim that the water system was inop BEFORE the flight was dispatched. He said that he was on an 8-hour flight that had a problem with the water.

    “That’s confirmed by announcements that coffee couldn’t be served, you can’t wash your hands, an”

    NO – that does not confirm WHEN the inoperability of the system was determined, it simply supports the claim of a problem with the water system.

    The presumption of the water system being inop before dispatch in terms of those tweets is based on the Jordan’s Ackers’ reported conversations with the cabin crew. As an attorney he knows full well that reporting what a third party has said would be “hearsay” in a legal setting. The cabin crew may be correct, they may be incorrect in their various claims. He doesn’t know.

    On the other hand, @ Michael K in the post above claims to have been on that flight and that the inop of the water systems was announced “once on board” (perhaps he can clarify exactly when to finally settle the matter).

    “2. Delta hasn’t said this did not happen. They don’t even want to respond to it.”

    They recognise there was problem on that flight, if you accept that @ Michael K received compensatory miles.

    “If it was “joe Schmoe” tweeting that the pilot said this, sure. Maybe it shouldn’t be taken at face value. But it’s a verified U of M trustee.”

    Go back and read all of his tweets. He goes on to praise the cabin crew and play down the experience. Again, also consider that if you believe that someone who is a UofM trustee and attorney is more believable than somebody else, said person knows all about the pitfalls of imbuing weight to statements without evidence that would constitute hearsay in a legal setting.

    “Tim, take a break. Delta messed up. If you don’t want to read Gary’s blog, don’t read it. No one will miss you and your fake facts in any comments section across any blog.”

    Ironically, @ Tim Dunn is the person pushing for an evidence-based approach. Your own so-called list of facts is hollow and collapsing in emotional attacks on other posters. Did you even go read the original tweets for yourself before spouting off?

    Tim is also right about @ Gary. Basic facts are incorrect (flight was LHR-DTW, not DTW-LHR). It’s an exercise in shit stirring. More troubling is that when Gary is called out for incorrect content, he doesn’t fix his mistakes (has happened several times recently). We now don’t know which data are correct in his articles. If we don’t go check for yourselves, sooner or later we’re going get suckered by a factually incorrect narrative.

    On this issue, we are fortunate to have the direct experience of @ Michael K to draw upon.

  35. This is American Greed at its best.

    50 Billion Dollars were given to these airlines during covid. Instead of keeping people & use the money for that, they fired people and paid their CEO more money…..apearantly sitting on one’s ass and doing nothing is a very valuable skill that deserves a million dollar bonuses.

    Now they are short staffed and making excuses.

    All domestic airlines are HORRIBLE with little exception.

  36. Thank you, platy.
    I am glad that there are a few thinking people that read and analyze what is said on the internet

    and AJ AJ,
    No US airline fired frontline personnel while or after taking federal covid aid.
    If you think they did, you should be able to provide proof.
    American and United both BRAGGED that they got rid of management personnel – which were non-union – and of course United imposed its vaccination mandate that resulted in the termination of hundreds of employees – only for United to revoke it.

    Some of us know the facts and we can read which is why we don’t let anyone grab the microphone and spout mistruths.

  37. @ GetReal

    For clarity – I’m not a “fanboy”of Delta. I can only remember ever flying with them once on a business class GUM-NRT flight. I once paid for a first class sector, LAX-SJC, for my wife-to-be.

    I am not a member of their SkyMiles program, but an active member of Alaska Mileage Plan, United Mileage Plus and American AAdvantage.

    I would be concerned if any airline was skipping proactive maintenance or flying commercially with issues that deter a t from the customer experience, are unhealthy or unsafe.

    That said, a few folk herein have been jumping to conclusions to suit their personal perceptions.

  38. @305

    “This Tim Dunn meltdown has been amazing. Thanks, Gary!”

    If you look at the situation logically rather than emotionally, @ Tim Dunn is providing a deconstruction exposing some posters’ presumption.

    Have you actually read the original tweets?

    Have you thought about how an aircraft toilet actually works?

    Are you sure what “water system” was supposedly inoperative (do aircraft use the same water in toilet washbasins as for potable (drinkable) supply )?

    Was coffee unavailable for some other reason than lack of potable water?

    Have you worked out that there was obviously bottled water on board (cabin crew were using such)?

    etc…etc….it’s called rational thought…

  39. @ MaxPower

    “2. Delta hasn’t said this did not happen. They don’t even want to respond to it.”

    But Delta HAS responded to Jordan Acker’s tweets.

    You can verify for yourself by reading the tweets.

    That’s the difference between an evidence based approach and one based on irrational confirmation bias.

  40. @ David Miller

    “People need to quit making excuses and accepting excuses when they are not getting what they pay for”

    FWIW I absolutely agree with you.

    That said, we should be holding airlines accountable based on factual reality.

    Jordan Acker tweeted: “There has been no water for a WEEK on this plane. It’s been flying the whole time at behest of @delta Internationally.”

    If true, yes, that’s profoundly troubling.

    If it’s not true, Delta would arguably have good cause to be disappointed at Jordan Acker’s decision to post such a tweet – Jordan is an attorney and should appreciate the import of unsubstantiated statements.

  41. and to add, it is beyond believable to think that an aircraft that carries 200 plus passengers each flight didn’t have water or lavs for up to 14 flights – over 2500 passenges – and ONE – just one – passenger bothered to post something on social media.
    Logic and rationality is knowing that we live in a social media era; to think that one person is the only one speaking up about a service failure that would be monumental for every other passenger is simply not believable.

    it is equally as hard to believe that Gary either is incapable or unwilling to do even the most basic verification process and thinking through the same process that has played out here.

    But being accurate isn’t Gary’s goal – he has demonstrated that he posts articles that are full of typos and doesn’t bother to correct them even when they are pointed out.
    Gary is content in generating clicks from the lowest quality aviation posts on the internet.
    Sadly, some people follow him and reward that type of environment – and then use the same illogical arguments which are not hard for anyone with half of a brain to shoot down.

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