Delta Tempts the IT Gods: Only Weather Will Ever Cause Cancellations Again

Delta has had several IT meltodowns over the last year and a half.

And when weather gets bad their IT systems can’t always recover.. for days. In April things got so bad they stranded a dead body for days.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker says his airline will never lose money again. And Delta is now making what’s perhaps an even bolder claim — tempting the fates of IT, no less — only weather can cause significant cancellations again for the Atlanta-based carrier.

They had better hope all of their pilots stay happy, that there’s never a major maintenance issue grounding aircraft, and that none of their employees pulls the wrong cord out of a server.

Delta’s relatively strong operational performance has led to a sort of self-delusion. They even lied about not cancelling any flights over the Thanksgiving weekend, their operational performance was very good but they couldn’t resist the temptation to overclaim. They seem to have lost all sense of humility over at Virginia Avenue. And that’s when bad things happen. Especially at an airline.

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. I don’t know the Delta management team and I’m not a stakeholder in that company, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with the statement of their chief operating officer and I applaud their efforts at reliability. What he said is true: weather is currently the only driver of cancellations at his airline. He’s not promising that nothing else will ever happen, as so many things are out of his control (like war, terror, pandemic, etc). As is your tendency, you are making a mountain out of a molehill. We should all celebrate DL’s considerable success in advancing reliability in commercial aviation. Everyone benefits from this.

  2. @iahphx – He’s not making a statement only in the present tense (today we have only weather cancellations) he says only weather can screw up the operation it is so good, almost forgetting the recent massive IT debacles.

  3. “It’s come that weather is the only major driver of cancellations…”

    Where in this did he say “Only Weather Will Ever Cause Cancellations Again?”

    You’re titled is flawed and misleading.

  4. Link to the quote? Not the tweet referencing the quote but where the quote came from?

    Seriously. I want to print the primary source material and tack it up on my physical wall.

    DL will break again and it won’t be because of WX.

  5. what reliability ? out of the same airports they have roughly the same delay and cancellation rate as the other airlines. their system-wide average is higher only because of how the flights are distributed, the way Hawaiian is 90-something percent on-time cuz all their flights involve a state that has sunshine most of the year.

    maybe i’m just super unlucky, but out of my 60-odd domestic segments in 2016, mostly flown on non-DL, my single worst delay was a DL flight. the *one* time I patronize them and that’s how they reward my business.

  6. @IAHPHX
    What a nice surprise to read your excremental vomit again
    I doubt you don’t habe a stake at delta,
    It is clear you are some kind of PR for the supreme elite of drunk and corrupt airlines execs, otherwise it is hard to underatand why you rwad Gary’s blog if you never agree with him, regardless of the topic or the airline in question

  7. Had a DL flight that had a mech. issue 2 week sago. 8pm departure. They delayed it 2 hours before turning it into a 13 hour delay. So instead of cancelling they took an overnight delay that departed after 2 other morning flights.

    Sorry, DL, your ‘cancellation’ rate isn’t what you say it is.

  8. I agree with Gregg. It seems delta plays games with cancellation stats. On November 7, I was scheduled to be on on DL 166, a 767-300, from SIN to NRT. The flight was cancelled. Delta rebooked me on ANA so I was able to make the flight from NRT to DTW in the delta business-class suites. I was more than happy to trade my business class seat on a delta 767 for business class on an ANA 787-9. But delta claimed it had no flight cancellations in November. So much for honesty and integrity.

  9. @Gary — Again read the sentence for what it literally says — not some spin you’re putting on it. The COO is saying that weather is the only major driver of cancellations at the airline. He’s not talking about what strange things might happen in the future; a breakdown in their IT system, a job action, etc. He’s talking about what he sees on a daily basis. He doesn’t see mechanicals. He doesn’t see crew shortages. His only problem is weather. You can read more into this if that’s what you want to do, but that’s not what the COO is actually saying.

  10. Again, you’ve resurrected the myth that Delta experienced cancellations over Thanksgiving when it has already been discussed ad nauseam that cancellations and delays are reportable under 14CFR234 by the operating carrier- not the marketed carrier. Your laws allow the big 3 to bury poor operational performance in the operations of their regionals.

  11. But there is not any quote provided as DL Platinum notes. Only some other reference in a Tweet by someone else. Would be good to read all in context.

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