DREADFUL: Delta Flight Delayed 18 HOURS (But, Hey, Not Canceled!)

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Stressed woman in airport during flight delay.


This is the stuff of nightmares — assuming you fall asleep on the airport floor during your flight’s overnight delay.

Delta Air Lines flight 975 was scheduled to depart JFK at 3:30 PM on Wednesday. The 767-300 didn’t leave until 9:43 AM this morning.

Dancing with the Stars personality Emma Slater tweeted passengers “(waited) on the tarmac for a total of 8 hours and (had) to get off the aircraft twice for a multitude of reasons including mechanical.”

Mechanical issues? Hmmm. Sounds very familiar.

This user live-tweeted the ordeal. It sounds like crew rest periods also kicked in at some point and that caused more issues.

WABC writes that passengers were provided with water and snacks at the gate area. According to one passenger (via Daily Mail), affected customers were given meal vouchers — after restaurants closed.

Passengers grew irate when informed Delta would not give them hotel vouchers for the night. Given the problems were allegedly mechanical — and thus Delta’s fault — passengers should have received hotel vouchers and ground transportation.

So what’s up?

But Wait! Delta Says It Wasn’t Mechanical

Rene’s Points readers know there were weather concerns this week for New York airports.

And that’s exactly what Delta enforced.

“Delta apologizes to customers on flight 975 operating from New York-JFK to Los Angeles, which was delayed last night due to weather affecting Northeast airspace,” Delta said in a statement (via WABC). “Customers were offered water and snacks, pillows and blankets in the terminal before the flight departed at approximately 10am for Los Angeles Thursday morning.”

A Delta Air Lines 767-400 at JFK Airport

A Delta Air Lines 767-400 at JFK Airport

Yes, there were thunderstorms in the JFK area. But according to Weather Underground, the bad weather didn’t hit until the 8 PM hour — more than four hours after the plane should have departed.

“Northeast airspace” is certainly vague. Maine, Maryland, and Massachusetts could be considered “Northeast airspace” — and aren’t anywhere near New York. So what exactly was the problem and how did affect this flight?

According to NBC News, FlightAware Vice President Matt Davis said weather conditions at JFK on Wednesday wouldn’t have forced significant delays or cancellations.

And per FlightRadar24, the actual aircraft — N185DN — arrived at 10:23 AM from Frankfurt. So the flight wasn’t delayed from anything on the inbound segment.

Delta loves, loves, loves pointing out they hardly ever cancel flights. So congratulations to them for not canceling this terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad flight?

Remember that Delta does have a history of blaming the weather for mechanical issues.

What a Miserable Experience

Flight delays are annoying when I travel alone. As the parent to a toddler, reading about Delta 975 downright gives me the shakes. Hats off to those traveling with children.

How Passengers Can Protect Themselves

I probably would have cut my losses during the second deplanement, rebooked for today, and taken my brood to a hotel.

Hotels, ground transportation, and meals during instances like this are usually covered by travel insurance and certain credit cards’ trip interruption coverage (provided a portion of the trip was purchased with one of those cards).

If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred card, consider using one to book your next trip. Those three cards each carry pretty solid travel cancellation and trip interruption coverage.

The Chase Ink Business Preferred card

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card


Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve at renespoints.com/csr

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card


The Chase Sapphire Preferred travel rewards credit card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card


René and I both have blanket travel insurance policies for our respective families, too. (We’re fans of Allianz). It saved Rene’s bacon during a trip earlier this year.

DL975: The Unlucky Flight Number?

If “Delta 975” ever pops up in one of your itineraries, run away. Immediately.

While searching for tweets related to this incident, I found a bunch of other problems for other Delta 975 flights.

The air conditioning was purportedly kaput on July 26.

Another passenger said on July 7 it took 14 hours to get from LAX to JFK.

The cursed flight number seemed to have held up this poor guy’s luggage.

Poor Jazzy spent Father’s Day on DL975.

The APU allegedly conked out on JG’s flight.

This flight number seems to have bad mojo.




  1. A huge advantage of nonstop flights. In a major delay we can either go back home or go back to our destination location. On a stopover you are at the mercy of hotels being available in an unfamiliar place.

  2. Ever wondered how Delta can say they don’t cancel flights for months on end. It’s this behavior of delaying and sometimes even flying an empty plane to be able to claim zero cancellations.

  3. So much for Delta being so customer friendly and offering such amazing IROPs.

    No way. Overrated yet again, DL.

  4. Delta is generally good but when it screws up, it’s never a small screw up. 2019 has been a year of delay for me on Delta. The stats got even worse when they started flying A220 on the west coast. Almost every single A220 flight was late due to unexplained reasons for me. Delta made a DM sleep at LAX during that major computer meltdown 2 years ago, so anything is possible.

  5. The outrage! A plane didn’t take off because it’s unsafe to fly through heavy thunderstorms with fatigued pilots. What a silly article. Get a life.

  6. @Matthew Gildea: I assume you read the parts about mechanical issues that delayed the flight well before the thunderstorms. And how Delta’s handling of the situation seemed a bit murky.

    I do enjoy the irony, though, of a person trolling a blog late at night — and accusing someone else of not having a life. 😉

  7. I was 6 hours delayed Sunday flying JFK to SFO because they decided to swap out the 737 for a wide body 767. Yes that got me upgraded to Delta One which totally doesn’t suck…. but we were delayed 6 hours because while they remembered to swap the plane – they forgot to get a new crew certified to fly the 767-400ER.

    Would think that’s low hanging fruit.

  8. So THAT’S why there were so many sad and exhausted looking people in the terminal with blankets and pillows yesterday morning. I feel awful for them, and it sounds like Delta dropped the ball here.

  9. This is why a law similar to EU’s Regulation 261/2004 is needed here. Of course would the enforcing agency even have any teeth to enforce would be the other question.

  10. I was on DL975 on 15 August 2019 and we were delayed because of mechanical issues per the gate agent. I was on a 767-300 Ship number 176. We were delayed about 30 minutes. It wasn’t to bad. (This was my first time flying DL975). Other than about 20 minutes late the whole crew was great). The gate agent wasn’t to friendly or nice

  11. I just checked im booked on DL975 in Sept is there anything to worry about ,is it the equipment that has a issue . I’ll monitor the flight performance during the month

  12. Delta has great crews and service but management seems to be integrity challenged in spite of boasts I recall about integrity and honesty being core values.

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