*Article updated 13:42 UTC with a statement from Delta Air Lines*
Earlier this week, a passenger sadly died onboard a Delta Air Lines service to Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington. The flight diverted to Sacramento International Airport (SMF), California, before continuing to Seattle later on in the evening of March 4th.
The flight in question
Delta Air Lines flight DL1837 is a daily scheduled service to Seattle from Los Cabos International (SJD), Mexico. This has consistently been the country’s sixth-busiest airport, even amid the current industry-wide downturn. According to RadarBox.com, DL1837’s departure has been scheduled for 16:15 local time as of March 2nd. Previously, it departed at 16:00. Arrival into Seattle is scheduled for 19:47 local time. This gives it a scheduled duration of four hours and 32 minutes when accounting for the time difference.
The change in departure time also coincided with a change of equipment used on the route. Until March 2nd, Delta had deployed Boeing 737-800 aircraft between Los Cabos and Seattle. However, since then, it has utilized the smaller Airbus A319. According to SeatGuru, the A319s have 28 fewer seats than the 737s they replaced on this leisure-focused corridor (132 vs 160).
A tragic diversion
On March 4th, flight DL1837 departed right on time, at 16:15. However, it sustained a delay en route under tragic circumstances. Reports that have emerged on social media suggest that, while in flight, a passenger onboard sadly became unresponsive and passed away. With a medical emergency on their hands, the crew decided to divert to nearby Sacramento, California.
The flight landed in Sacramento at 18:23 local time, just over three hours after its departure from Los Cabos. Emergency services were dispatched to the aircraft, where the passenger was pronounced dead at the scene.
A passenger has died on Delta flight DL1837 to Seattle.
Delta Flight 1837 was headed to Seattle from Cabo when a passenger became unresponsive, an airport spokesperson said.
— RadarBox (@RadarBox24) March 5, 2021
According to AirLive, the Sacramento County coroner’s office also attended the scene. It later confirmed that the passenger had died of natural causes. After just over an hour on the ground, flight DL1837 departed Sacramento once more at 19:43. It eventually landed in Seattle at 21:02, with a delay of approximately 80 minutes. A Delta spokesperson confirmed to Simple Flying:
“Delta flight 1837 operating to Seattle diverted to Sacramento International Airport following an onboard passenger medical situation. The flight was met in Sacramento by medical personnel where they attended to the passenger onsite.”
The aircraft involved
The aircraft that had to re-route to Sacramento under these sad circumstances was an Airbus A319-100 registered as N343NB. According to Planespotters.net, Northwest Airlines first took delivery of this 18.8-year-old aircraft in June 2002. Delta operates a total of 57 A319s.
At Northwest, the aircraft had had a 124-seat configuration. However, when it came into Delta’s ownership in October 2008, the airline reconfigured it to the aforementioned 132-seat configuration it has today. After a quick overnight stay in Seattle, it returned to service on the morning of March 5th. It first operated a return trip to San Diego International (SAN), California.
Its most recent sector at the time of writing was a transcontinental journey from Seattle to Raleigh–Durham International Airport (RDU), North Carolina. According to RadarBox.com, this five-hour flight landed 12 minutes ahead of schedule yesterday evening, at 23:37 local time.
Simple Flying’s thoughts are with the relatives of the deceased.