Delta Employees To Sleep In Spare Widebody Aircraft During Winter Storms

Winter can be a rough time for airlines, with decreased demand and passenger numbers, fewer open routes and the possibility of severe snow storms.

This can be so bad that some industry leaders are predicting the demise of several name brand airlines.

These blizzards can ground aircraft, freezing up engines and components, as well as snowing in the runways and reducing visibility to less than 5 feet. If you have ever been caught in a whiteout snowstorm (Where you cannot see the horizon nor tell the difference between the sky and the ground) then you definitely know you don’t want to be going 1000 km/hour (Mach 0.85) in a plane during one.

Norwegian airlines in the snow
Some experts (as well as the Ryanair CEO) have come out saying that Norwegian might be the next to go.

Airlines are in the business of operating as much as possible until they are forced to be grounded, then when the skies are open, they generally have a huge backlog of passengers to continue to their destinations. This means missed profits and angry customers. To help combat this, Delta is putting a rather unique plan into effect this coming winter.

They will be asking their cabin crew and staff to camp out in their grounded planes.

Delta in the snow
A Delta aircraft takes off in the snow

What is Delta’s blizzard action plan?

The new plan by Delta is not just asking their crew to bunker down in their own planes (Instead of traveling on congested roadways to a hotel), but actually much more.

Delta being de iced
A Delta aircraft being de-iced before a flight

Here are some of the steps they will be taking this winter.

  • Delta will be deploying the same team they used for the hurricane season. Approx 130 team members will arrive at the affected airports with supplies (Such as food, heaters, blankets) to help stranded Delta passengers. Delta will also have everything to continue their flights in the case of electrical failures, such as handheld check-in devices, generators and internet connections.
  • Deltaise rolling out 20 new de-icing trucks to their hub in Atlanta. This airport is the busiest in their network and with these trucks on the ground, they will be able to ensure planes are not affected by ice.
  • Upgrading the way they do deicing, Delta will now use IT systems to monitor progress and allow coordination throughout the fleet. Believe it or not, in the past they used to keep handwritten notes on their progress and then let the corporate office know by the end of the day.
  • Using computer simulators, they are currently able to train up deicing staff in many different hazards and conditions.
  • Deicing trucks will now use a new special gel that prevents ice from forming on planes well until they take off.
  • Delta also plans to keep passengers well informed of any changes to their flights due to deicing or cancellations. This will be done through their apps and an automatic alert system.
  • And of course, asking their pilot crew and team to bunker down in their excellent business class suites.
Each of the seats in the new business class has their own very private space. Photo Delta A350

Whether or not this will be enough for the coming weather remains to be seen, but we wish Delta the very best luck.