Delta Blames Seven-Hour Flight Delay On "Decades-Old Radar And Analog Air Traffic Control System"

Delta customer and Consumerist reader Rebekah emailed Delta over concerns about recent and extreme airline delays, threatening to cancel her Delta American Express and taking her miles with her. We’ll let it and the Delta Customer Care reply speak for themselves…

Via The Consumerist, I just watched [Customer Records His 7-Hour Delayed Flight In All Its Baby-Screaming Glory]

– and I’m honestly frightened to ever use Delta again. What’s going to be done for these poor passengers, and what will be done as incentive for those of us who are now afraid to use Delta’s services?

Without a decent response from you, I’ll be canceling my Delta American Express. I will be looking for another airline to transfer my miles, as well. This is pretty scary!

Delta’s response:

From: Customer Care
Date: Jul 10, 2007 9:34 AM
Subject: Re: Flight_Delay_Cancellation – Current and Future (KMM17442327I108L0KM)
To: [redacted]

July 10, 2007

Dear Ms. [redacted],

Thank you for your correspondence concerning the extended tarmac delay of one of our Delta Connection flights.

We are working hard to eliminate delays for our customers, especially those that result in delays onboard the aircraft. As always, safety is our number one concern. When weather, ATC delays, and other factors outside our control impact our ability to operate as scheduled, we try to do everything we can to minimize the inconvenience to our customers.

Recent ATC computer failures and resulting gridlock are perfect examples of why the ultimate solution that will reduce passenger frustration with extended tarmac delays is to modernize our nation’s antiquated ATC system. We must move from the decades-old radar and analog ATC system to more precise satellite navigation and digital communication-based ATC technology that will increase capacity. Please know that we will do everything within our control to prevent future occurrences of tarmac delays.

Again, thank you for contacting us. We will always welcome the opportunity to be of service.


Kay Rose
Customer Care

What about when you lied to this guy’s wife and said the plane had already left, even though she had just got off the phone with him and it was still on the ground? Would space lasers have solved that airplane conundrum, Kay? Or would an electrified grid of stardust have prevented you from announcing over the intercom that the pilot was making his way through the terminal, when he was really still in Newark? No amount of future-tech can overcome man’s historical tendency to pass the buck.

(Photo: Maulleigh)

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