Delta Passengers Told: “Be Grateful” Your Plane Didn’t Crash In The Sea

Friday night’s Delta Air Lines flight 157 from Accra, Ghana to New York JFK diverted to Praia da Vitória, on Terceira Island, in the Azores reportedly because of oxygen levels.

While this is a remote airport, it actually serves Azores Airlines and has service from Ryanair, TAP Air Portugal, TUI fly (seasonally) and SATA Air Acores.

It has a runway that’s nearly 11,000 feet. It’s well-prepared for diversions, and geographically located that diversions there won’t be uncommon. However, Delta Air Lines isn’t going to have its own staff on the ground there.

When the airline doesn’t have its own staff, help at the airport is likely to be limited. And information to passengers will be limited as well, reliant mostly on crew who may not be focused on customers. One passenger tweeting Delta is told to call, but Delta’s phone lines are notoriously bad for non-elite passengers.

Not getting through to the airline may actually be better than the information flow at the airport, where a representative tells passengers to “be grateful that they allowed us to be here and our plane didn’t crash in the sea.”

I suppose that’s one perspective! And we should always be grateful, every day we have another day.

It’s also another reason to always have crucial items in the cabin with you (though in the event of an emergency landing, leave them behind still) and not to check bags. You may find yourself some place remote, and you’re unlikely to be able to replace medications for instance, and will want creature comforts like an extra change of underwear and perhaps a shave. Bringing extra snacks is a good idea, too. When you land in another country enroute you may not be allowed to clear immigration (even if you’re eligible to do so).

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. Medication, ID, passport in pockets on travel vest (doesn’t work if you have larger/liquid meds). Travel vest on body from takeoff until 10k feet and from 10k feet to landing. Stays with you even if you DO have to evacuate.

    (Your chances of something bad happening during cruise phase are extremely slim…and if it does, those are usually the “Flight X vanishes without a trace” headlines).

    And never, under any circumstances, EVER check your meds or your child’s meds. Always keep them in the original container, especially when traveling outside your home country.

    In this situation, with no airline staff on the ground, you’re better off relying on the airport. As Gary pointed out, this airport is used to random flights landing there. They undoubtedly have procedures to at least make sure everyone gets food and water.

  2. so if Delta doesn’t have any staff there, then it clearly wasn’t Delta staff that told passengers anything about being grateful they didn’t end up in the water, right Gary?

    You’ve spent the entire weekend trying to find SOMETHING about which to trash Delta. Never mind you threw in a few stories about AA and UA.

    You’re a sorry little man, Gary. It is obvious you were bullied as a kid and you are now doing exactly what you are wired to do – lash back at this that criticize you.

    Get off the internet and go get help, Gary.

  3. Tim Dunn you are a Sick and Pathetic little Puke. It’s bad enough being alive when no one wants you. Nevertheless, you continue to spew your hate on Gary’s website and offer nothing of value.
    You are a sorry little boy. It is obvious your medication is not working.
    Get off the internet and go back to your padded cell and get some professional help.

  4. Gary did not compose the tweet. He merely reported what happened.
    I do hope Delta got them all to JFK in a prompt manner.

  5. You kind of should be grateful if there was a problem with the oxygen in the cockpit. Delta ( or any other airlines) isn’t going to land somewhere with their own ground services if they don’t have to. It will take them a while to get things in place. I would rather have that than the pilots be unconscious.

  6. If all anyone does is amplify the tweets that other people make, that is not journalism. That’s a bully pulpit.
    I have praised Gary multiple times for the work that he does on certain topics but he repeatedly has delved into the trashiest, most baseless, unsupported articles and that is where I justifiably criticize his work. It is his inability to admit his errors, something other bloggers are more than capable of doing, that any logical person would ask why Gary persist in doing what he does
    His own article is logically incongruent. There is no doubt that someone might have said what they said about ending up in the ocean, but if there was no Delta representative at that airport, it could not have possibly been made by a Delta person.
    Add in that Gary continues to post that my criticism of him is because I am defending Delta and it is obvious he does not see himself as he should
    If Gary would take the time to do proper research, instead of pushing trash out the door as fast as he could, he could write quality work. He has demonstrated he is capable of doing it.

  7. Mr. Dunn; please refrain from posting on this forum. Do not engage if unhappy with content.
    You add nothing of value.

  8. Gary himself said I give him $2 of revenue per month out of millions of page views, so, yes, I do add value.

    Your comment on the other hand, does not add anything.

    Gary can shut the comments down for all users or he can accept the criticism for his work and make adjustments or apologies as just about every one else is capable of doing.

  9. In Gary’s post, he never says a Delta representative made the comment. He says the passengers couldn’t get in touch with Delta and only had the airport staff to rely on (i.e. airport representative, not Delta representative).

    “Not getting through to the airline may actually be better than the information flow at the airport, where a representative tells passengers to “be grateful that they allowed us to be here and our plane didn’t crash in the sea.”

    Just because a Delta passenger was “told something” doesn’t mean it was “told” to the passenger by Delta.

    I think it’s pretty clear in the post that it was a TER rep who made the statement.

  10. Some people here don’t understand. They both criticism and crazy, and I don’t spare anything and handing both of them out in spades to Carrie and on this site.
    Gary does do quality work at times and I don’t hesitate to praise him for it and have just the last week
    But any person that steps into the public arena, deserves both praise and criticism
    Some of you, like Gary, need to except both criticism and praise

  11. NOT ONCE…did I hear any transcript or voice saying “…be grateful your plane didn’t crash into the sea.” I hope…HOPE that Delta Air Lines sues your brains out. Journalism is one thing. Flagrant misrepresentation is another. This wouldn’t be considered a violation of the First Amendment as this reporting is like yelling “FIRE” in a movie theatre. Had the article clearly stated that Delta DID NOT say that, maybe different. However…this clickbait bull***t is repulsive. Stick to hotels.

  12. What wasn’t mentioned as a follow-up is that Delta actually did a pretty good recovery job IMO, and got the pax to JFK around 9pm (instead of the original scheduled arrival of 5am), especially after a diversion to a place like TER with no DL ground support. They cancelled the day’s LIS-BOS and sent that aircraft from LIS to TER to pick up the ACC pax.

  13. Maybe DL can get out ahead for next time by going old school and stockpiling some barrels of bacalhau and fresh water somewhere on the island…

    Count me amongst those that couldn’t actually hear the ground employee say the quoted phrase (though there was a lot going on in that clip), but if she did, I mean, she wasn’t technically wrong – perspective does matter!

  14. What is not mentioned here is that according to Gary, Delta ( like Hilton for the hospitality sector) is always the black sheep: why don’t you advertise it in a way like “And now our three-weekly bashing of Delta and/or HiltonHonors”?

  15. I’m convinced I only want to Fly delta after reviewing the situation
    Hard Pass !
    Kind of like your trolls Gary 😉

  16. Any airline that makes you wait for six hours on the phone is bush league. Hard stop. Sorry Delata apologists.

  17. I agree with Jerry’s comment above. That’s why so many Europeans and others don’t care for Americans. Nasty attitudes and don’t know how to talk to people with the right tone. I don’t blame them for disliking us.

  18. Rather than expecting the passengers to call the airline, Delta staff in Atlanta should have been pro-actively providing information to the airport staff to communicate to the passengers (and texting passengers with information when possible).

    That said, I don’t understand why being at Gate 6 would have been any worse for the passengers than any other gate at the airport. When you’ve had to land 2,400 miles from your destination, it’s hard to imagine that being sent to another gate at the airport would have improved the situation much

  19. The visual of the Twits in the Tweet say it all.

    Gary is a master of provocative headlines.

    If the supposedly uttered statement was not in the Twat video, then its “hearsay”, since when is that credible or newsworthy?

    If it didn’t come from a DL pilot or It certainly did not come from a DL representative. Furthermore, that seems to be a completely adequate response to a bunch of obnoxious Twatters demanding answers from a helpful 3rd party during an obvious emergency.

    Finally, what was the point of calling Delta? I’m pretty sure the pilot reported a problem on behalf of all the passengers. Not like she was going to rebooked on the next shuttle flight home.

    Tim Dunn has very valid points

  20. If you people don’t like what Gary does with his site, either find one you do or create something yourself so we can anonymously insult you.

  21. This isn’t the first time with issues with respect to Delta equipment on the JFK-ACC route. Its happened enough for those of us who are aviation enthusiasts to raise eyebrows. Now, i mm not saying that Delta is flying ‘unsafe planes’ to ACC but we have these old ass 767-300 they have been utilizing, and we (pretty much everyone I know who flies delta to GH, and I know a ton of folks) have been begging for better equipment. Even the business class product is out dated, and you’ll find regular stuff like outlets not working, issues with reclining seats, lights in business class don’t even work. The equipment is crap and needs to be changed..

    I won’t even begin to list all the stories I have seen and heard, and believe me i have heard plenty. Thing is, I used to fly Delta. I fly Delta for work in the US… But to fly back home, it’s now United (787-9) for me… But when you don’t g
    have a ton of choices from the US, that’s just the nature of the beast…So folks still patronize is what it is.. Here is to hoping they retire those planes soon and gives us better equipment.

  22. When looking for an emergency airfield in the middle of the ocean, what is important is the runway, not the airport terminal. TER is a joint use US military airfield (aka Lajes Field) with the longest runway in the Azores and thus for miles around. It was the perfect place to set down. Other transoceanic flights in the past have used Ascension Island in the South Atlantic (between Jo’burg and Atlanta) and Cold Bay, Alaska (between Japan and Seattle) as emergency airfields, both much more remote than Terceira Island. The Azores is not a bad place at all to be stranded at for a day!

  23. I used to live here, I’m familiar with this place. I’m still amazed how many Americans (not all, but many) don’t understand how to behave when you are a GUEST of another nation.
    Yes, you SHOULD be thankful you aren’t sitting on the plane still (I’ve been stuck on a plane in another country unexpectedly, man was it a relief when we were ALLOWED by the host nation to get off the plane, into a very sparse room with no comforts Americans expect).
    Yes, you SHOULD be thankful you didn’t end up in the ocean.

    When I lived there, I met American tourists who called the people who lived there “foreigners”. I had to correct my fellow Americans to remind them THEY were the foreigners.

    Yes, the situation sucked. Yes, I would be upset also. Still, please remember how blessed we are in America to have the freedom to act like a fool…. just please remember you don’t have a right to demand things just because you v want them when you are a guest of another nation.

    Made it really difficult to live some places when other Americans acted like rude fools.

  24. kk
    you do realize that United flies 767s -both -300ERs and 400s – that are the same age as Delta’s?
    DL’s 767-300ER fleet is about 10 aircraft larger than UA’s but they are similar age and flight hours.

    Did it occur to you that perhaps the reason aircraft have more maintenance problems leaving Africa is that there is not reliable maintenance on the ground?

    Do you also remember that United had to put a fairly new 787-9 down in the middle of Arctic Canada? Age clearly isn’t the only factor that determines whether planes have to make emergency landings or not.

    oh, and Delta got a replacement plane for this flight faster than United did

    so, let’s just stop this “my instrument is better than yours” contest when it comes to safety

  25. I’m surprised there aren’t more comments pointing out how often DL157 is disrupted by aircraft malfunctions. In the past two months, three of these flights have returned back to JFK due to engine failures, and now this? Might be time for DL to get rid of these 763’s for good.

  26. Tim Dunn, this has nothing to do with maintenance on Ground in Accra. These planes are showing thie age. At least three Accra-bound flights have returned back to JFK in the past two months due to Engine failure. There have also been other recent instances of engine failure regarding Delta’s 763 fleet. Maybe DL TechOps isn’t as great as it’s touted to be if these 763’s keep having issues.

  27. This is really embarrassing for Delta, who thankfully was able to get the plane down as quickly as possible so everyone could survive. That said, I have read enough stories about US carriers having mechanical issues that I now hesitate to fly them overseas. Delta’s partners KL and AF also fly to ACC, so there’s definitely a choice in the market in addition to UA, even if it takes longer to fly over Europe. For that reason, it may be best for the sake of safety to avoid Delta’s 763s. They have always felt old and a little trashy with many screaming, “Newer planes have problems too.” That may be true, but at least investment in newer aircraft shows an interest in the customer and communicates an intent to keep one’s equipment fresh and up to date. I’m sure nobody will be sad once DL’s 763s are gone.

  28. At the end of the day they don’t get punished because Africans especially will continue to fly them. Why won’t they fly old planes and crew to African destinations.

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