Delta Air Lines’ Flight DL156 scheduled for Sunday, the 24th of July 2022 was supposed to leave the JFK airport at 11:45pm to the KotoKa International Airport in Accra. By 10:45pm, passengers including myself had checked in, gone through the necessary immigration protocols, temperature checks and were seated at Gate 39 waiting for boarding.
Then came an announcement at about 11pm from the Delta Air Lines crew of a 45 minutes delay in the flight time. No reasons were given for this delay.
A few minutes after this announcement, some passengers received messages on their phones from Delta Air Lines to the effect that the flight which was initially scheduled for 11:45pm on 24th July has been rescheduled to 3:30pm the next day, 25th July 2022. When some of the passengers queried the Delta crew on duty about this message, they initially denied knowledge and asked for time to seek confirmation from their superiors. This led to heated exchanges between some passengers and the crew.
In the midst of the pandemonium, a second announcement was made by a member of the Delta crew, ostensibly to apologize for and explain the reason for the undue delay.
To our amazement, the delay was not because of any weather or technical hitches but the fact that one of the pilots who was supposed to be on duty had failed to show up on time, hence we were supposed to wait for him. We were assured that boarding was going to commence once the pilot arrived.
A few minutes after the second announcement had succeeded in calming nerves, we saw a member of the Delta crew bring in two uniformed cops, whereupon a third announcement was made by the crew confirming the message some passengers had received on their phones that the flight had been rescheduled to 3:30pm the next day, 25th July 2022.
All passengers were asked to move to another gate for the necessary accommodation arrangements. This we later found out was a lie, as no accommodation arrangements had been made by the company for the passengers. All of us, including children, persons with disabilities and those who had travelled from far places, were left to our own fates to find our own accommodation.
The next day, 25th July 2022, passengers came back to the JFK airport, checked in, and went through immigration and boarding formalities by 3:30pm. After we had all boarded the plane, an announcement was made by the pilot that the flight had to be delayed due to unfavourable weather conditions. It was raining amid lightning at the time, so we could appreciate and relate to the legitimate delay.
After a couple of hours, an announcement was made by the pilot to the effect that the weather had stabilized and that we were ready to take off. After flying for over two hours, another announcement was made by the pilot to our utter dismay and disgust that we were unable to proceed to Accra because of a fuel shortage and that we had to turn back to the JFK airport.
In other words, the pilots took off from the JFK airport to Accra without checking if there was enough fuel in the aircraft, thereby putting the lives of the hundreds of passengers who were on the flight at great risk.
It’s a big shame that a reputable international airline like Delta Air Lines will be this irresponsible, unprofessional, negligent and reckless. By the grace of God, we have landed safely at the JFK airport, but that cannot be the end of this matter. We cannot afford to let this matter slide. Some of us are determined to pursue this matter with the appropriate Aviation Authorities in the US and Ghana. It’s my hope that those entrusted with the responsibility of acting on such matters will do the needful.