Delta Cancels Flight, Uses Plane to Fly UF Basketball Team to Connecticut

Dan CarsonTrending Lead WriterDecember 3, 2013

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Delta Airlines is winning over America, one canceled flight at a time.

Many of us have experienced delays while attempting to travel the less-than-friendly skies, although rarely does one see the kind of flight cancellation that occurred at an airport in Florida on Monday afternoon.

According to Morgan Watkins of The Gainesville Sun, a plane full of travelers at the Gainesville Regional Airport were bumped from their flight in order to secure travel for the University of Florida’s men’s basketball team.

Maintenance issues had delayed the Gators’ flight to Storrs, Conn., and with time running down before the team’s 7:00 p.m. EST game against the University of Connecticut, Delta decided to cancel a commercial flight to Atlanta and use the plane as a charter aircraft for the team.

Passengers on the canceled flight were moved onto other flights and given travel vouchers for their patience, according to Delta spokesman Michael Thomas. 

“Delta apologizes to those customers on Delta Connection flight 5059, operated by ExpressJet, who were impacted by the resulting cancellation of their flight,” Thomas stated in an email to The Gainesville Sun. 

Thomas was trying to be kind, but the real message here is, “We apologize to those who had their day ruined by college basketball.”

According to one passenger, the travelers waiting at the gate for flight 5059 had originally been told their plane was temporarily grounded due to mechanical issues. Shortly thereafter, they watched the Gators basketball team board the plane and leave. 

Canceled flights aren’t the end of the world, but they did cause a number of issues for the delayed passengers. 

Some had to arrange rides to Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville in order to make flights. A student had to ask her father for a ride to Atlanta. One passenger missed a funeral due to the delay.

As one can imagine, Delta’s cancellation hasn’t received warm reviews on the Internet.

Team spokesman Denver Parler told the paper via email that the Gators were not aware they were bumping commercial passengers.

“We generally fly private charters,” Parler wrote.

Did the Gators know? Does it matter? I don't know if it does, as there are never any winners in this type of debacle. That even applies to the team, which ended up losing to UConn, 65-64.

At the end of the day, a game was put ahead of people’s lives—and for that much, there’s no worthy explanation or defense.


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