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EDIT: After this story was published, Delta Air Lines said that the passenger did have the airplane to himself, but the flight was cancelled just before taking off and returned to the gate. The plane subsequently took off with no passengers.
With full flights acting as the norm these days, especially during the summer travel season, imagine the shock if you boarded a flight and were the only passenger. That’s exactly what happened last week on a Delta Air Lines operated flight between Aspen, CO (ASE) and Salt Lake City (SLC) with just one passenger on-board. And no, this wasn’t like that time Delta purposefully sent a “private” plane to pick up a group of passengers.
This time, New York-based director Vincent Peone lucked his way into being the sole passenger on a Delta Connection flight. Naturally, he took to Twitter to share what it was like to be the only passenger on the 69-seat regional jet.
Here’s the one minute video shot by Vincent Peone, the sole passenger on-board Delta Connection flight DL3652.
The video starts with Peone boarding the flight to Salt Lake City. The gate agent can be heard requesting that the only passenger on the flight kindly come forward for boarding. The agent then calls Peone by name for boarding.
Once outside of the terminal, Peone was escorted directly to the aircraft by another Delta Air Lines employee who bursts his bubble a bit and shared the news that a commercial flight operating with just one passenger has happened before.
Before the flight could depart, the Delta ground crew was required to add additional weight to the aircraft. For the Bombardier CRJ-700 to operate safely, the weight of the aircraft’s contents (passengers, cargo, and fuel) has to be distributed properly.
While weight-and-balance issues are not all that unusual, the flight crew typically has enough passengers to move around the aircraft in order to distribute the weight appropriately. But this time, sandbags were brought on to do the job in place of people.
Next up was a personalized private safety briefing. The Federal Aviation Administration and the airline’s own policies still require the crew to carry out all standard operating procedures, even if a flight operates with just one passenger. However, the flight crew did acknowledge the somewhat odd scenario and started the briefing with, “Good evening, Vincent.”
At the end of his flight, Peone visited the flight deck to thank the two pilots that flew him to Salt Lake City. The video ends with a still image showing an overjoyed Peone posing at the forward door of the aircraft, which looks like a pretty sweet way to end an essentially private flight.
Why Delta Would Operate a Flight With One Passenger?
You may be wondering why the flight wasn’t just cancelled since there’s no chance that flying one passenger from Aspen to Salt Lake City was remotely profitable. There’s a number of reasons the airline didn’t take that route, but one reason is likely that the aircraft was scheduled to return to Aspen later that evening. Cancelling the flight would not only meant necessary reaccommodation for this customer, but would have impacted the planned later flight from Salt Lake City back to Aspen.
As to how Peone ended up as the only passenger aboard this flight, there’s a likely cause. Delta Connection flight DL3652 was delayed for over 12 hours on August 6th. Passengers originally booked aboard Peone’s flight likely opted to take the other daily nonstop flight from Aspen to Salt Lake City offered by Delta, or simply rerouted through another city. But for Peone, patience paid off, as he walked away with a flight to remember for all the right reasons.
Featured image by Robert Alexander/Getty Images
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