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Tuesday December 3, 2013 Delta Air Lines releases statement regarding canceled flight

Updated: 2:38pm, December 3

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Delta Air Lines released a statement Tuesday explaining its decision to delay a commercial flight to Atlanta and use the aircraft to take the University of Florida basketball team on its Sunday chartered flight to Connecticut. 

“An internal review is underway to understand the specific circumstances around this aircraft substitution,” the airline said, “but it is clear that the University of Florida in no way participated in the decision-making process.”

The UF team flight was scheduled to depart around 3 p.m., but according to Delta was grounded due to mechanical problems. The flight from Gainesville to Atlanta was scheduled for a 3:26 p.m. departure. According to the airline, it was Delta’s intention to try and accommodate both groups, first having Florida take off as close to its scheduled departure time as possible, then fix the mechanical issue with the other plane to allow the Atlanta-bound passengers take off with as limited a delay as possible.

The airline indicated it gave no priority to the University of Florida. Its intention was to get both flights off the ground as close to on schedule as possible. Unfortunately, flight 5059 ended up being cancelled.    

The circumstances reportedly inconvenienced travelers trying to reach their destinations on the last day of the Thanksgiving weekend, one of the most traveled days of the year. 

“Delta Connection partner ExpressJet, which operated both the charter as well as the regularly scheduled flight, made the operational decision to swap aircraft as the maintenance work was expected to be done quickly,” the airline said. “Unfortunately, it was not and Delta flight 5059 was cancelled. Delta made every effort to re-accommodate those customers on alternate flights and we apologize to the 50 customers who were inconvenienced.

“Our efforts to better serve our customers are constant and a well-intentioned operational decision unfortunately did not work as planned,” the airline said. “We continually look for ways to improve the customer experience and again, we apologize to those customers who were inconvenienced.”

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