Wow: American Airlines Adds Stop To Flight To Pick Up Stranded Passengers

**Update: 31/05/21 @ 10:55 UTC – Remarks from the captain of the flight included. Additionally, a correction has been made regarding reports of a funeral.**

Flight AA1005 typically takes passengers from Dallas-Fort Worth to Nassau (Bahamas) every day. However, on Tuesday, May 25th, the flight diverted to New Orleans for an unusual reason: To pick up stranded travelers who had their flight to Charlotte canceled. The group was headed to Nassau and originally had Charlotte as their connection point.

Wow: American Airlines Adds Stop To Flight To Pick Up Stranded Passengers
The flight was operated by an American Airlines Boeing 737-800. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Flight details

According to View from the Wing, 74 passengers were booked to fly American Airlines flight AA1266 from New Orleans to Charlotte. The group of passengers was planning to transfer in Charlotte and continue on to Nassau in The Bahamas. However, the flight was delayed and subsequently canceled. While other AA flights from other hubs were destined for Nassau, it appeared that there would not be enough time for the group to fly to a different hub airport.

Surprisingly, there was another twist in the story. The airline’s System Customer Support Manager group conceived a plan to divert a Dallas-Nassau flight to New Orleans to collect the stranded group. American Airlines flight AA1005, operated by a 737-800 registered N989AN, was redirected for this special pit stop.

On this particular day, AA1005 had around 92 passengers booked on the flight. The aircraft was configured with 16 business class seats and another 156 in economy. Thus, adding 74 passengers to the existing 92 would work out in terms of accommodating all travelers.

Wow: American Airlines Adds Stop To Flight To Pick Up Stranded Passengers
The typical flight path from Dallas to Nassau for AA1005.Photo:
Wow: American Airlines Adds Stop To Flight To Pick Up Stranded Passengers
Tuesday’s flight was directed to stop in New Orleans to pick up the group of travelers en route to Nassau. Photo:

On the way, but not completely

Tracing out AA1005’s normal routing from Dallas to Nassau, you can see that the aircraft would directly overfly New Orleans. However, as View from the Wing points out (and can be seen in the flight path above), the aircraft had to fly around a weather system, making the flight less-than-direct.

The captain of the flight tells Simple Flying:

“We were slated to actually head considerably further north than I did to avoid the weather. Once airborne, the ability to see reality gave me options to change altitudes, and move between a few significant systems, but save considerable time, but still in comfort for my folks.”

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Additionally, getting into position for approach, then taxiing to the gate, boarding the new passengers, and then conducting a second-takeoff would all be factors further delaying the original flight. However, at the end of the day, AA1005 arrived only 90 minutes later than scheduled. Considering ‘normal’ flights might be delayed by that amount of time, it seems like American pulled off a win.

Wow: American Airlines Adds Stop To Flight To Pick Up Stranded Passengers
N989AN is a 12-year-old 737-800. Photo: Tomás Del Coro via Wikimedia Commons 

It’s doubtful that American Airlines would have done the same for a smaller group of passengers, but 74 travelers is fairly significant. Indeed the amount of goodwill (and positive media) generated by the airline in making the diversion seems like an excellent investment. Hopefully, the other passengers from Dallas were okay with the act.

What do you think of American Airlines’ actions? Does it change your opinion of the carrier? Let us know in the comments.

Simple Flying contacted American Airlines requesting a comment on the diversion. However, at the time of publication, no response was received.