Delta Operated Not One, But Two ‘Flights to Nowhere’ Tuesday Night

Jan 3, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when ANA flew an 8-hour “flight to nowhere” from LAX to LAX? Well, not to be outdone, Delta operated two back-to-back flights from ATL to ATL Tuesday evening.

The original Delta flight 284 from ATL to London’s Heathrow (LHR) pushed back 35 minutes late from ATL’s international terminal and took off 15 minutes later. However, around Greenville, South Carolina, the flight leveled out at 29,000 feet. Then, shortly after passing Spartanburg, South Carolina, the aircraft made a wide turn to return to ATL. The aircraft landed safely about an hour after takeoff.

Both the crew and passengers reported hearing loud banging once in the air. Passenger Alex Brown told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it sounded “like someone dropping a lead ball on the floor.” According to Delta’s statement to TPG:

The flight crew of Delta flight 284 from Atlanta to London, Heathrow elected to return to Atlanta out of an abundance of caution when an abnormal noise was observed on the aircraft.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that the flight declared an emergency. Emergency declarations are reserved for immediate life-threatening situations such as an on-board fire or loss of aircraft control. However, the pilots never entered code 7700 in the aircraft’s transponder — which would be the normal procedure for an emergency. Instead, the pilots may have declared Pan-Pan, which indicates the aircraft has a serious situation and needs landing priority.

As a precaution, emergency crews were on hand for the flight’s landing — as was live-streamed by Atlanta’s Fox affiliate:

Emergency landing

#BREAKING: A Boeing 767 lands without incident back at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after experiencing engine trouble and declaring an emergency. MORE: This feed has no audio. It is LIVE, UNCUT, and UNEDITED. Viewer discretion advised.

Posted by FOX 5 Atlanta on Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Delta happened to have another Boeing 767-400ER in reserve in Atlanta, put the passengers from the previous plane on it, and went for another attempt at DL284 from Atlanta to London. As succinctly put by the Delta statement “the subsequent flight returned to Atlanta without incident due to a similar observation.”

We asked Delta how the DL284 passengers will get to Heathrow. Turns out, the passengers are going to be reaccommodated on another Delta flight. From FlightAware flight records, it looks like this flight will be Delta flight 9884 departing ATL at 6:00pm Wednesday.

While it’s not necessarily uncommon for a plane to return to its origin, the odds have to be a lot smaller for that to happen in back-to-back flights. Hopefully, the third time is a charm.

Featured image by Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.