Hurricane Irma continues to plow towards Florida. Cities throughout Florida’s coast are mandating evacuations and Miami is quickly becoming a boarded up ghost town.
Demand for flights is sky high will many visitors to Florida trying to evacuate ahead of the approaching hurricane. Airlines have upgauged their aircraft, for instance substituting 767s and 777 for typical 737 routes. American Airlines added an additional 23 flights over the past two days. Delta Air Lines brought the heavy metal on Friday. Tail N667US, a Boeing 747-400, flew as flight DL2517 from Detroit to Orlando. It returned later that afternoon to Detroit with nearly 400 passengers onboard
Flying a Boeing 747 on a domestic trip to Florida makes a ton of sense. Air traffic in Florida is horribly congested ahead of Irma’s arrival. Some airports in the direct path of Irma like Key West have already shut down. A Boeing 747 allows Delta to use one flight to carry as many passengers as two Boeing 737-900 or 757s. The FAA Flight Delay Information page shows that most major airports in Florida show a delay of at least 30 minutes. Flights from Miami to Teterboro (major destination for private jets) show an average delay of three hours and 27 minutes!
This truly is a swan song for Delta’s queen of the skies. Delta 747’s last domestic route was supposed to be earlier this week as it flew a red-eye between LAX and Detroit. Many avgeeks booked their flight in anticipation of flying the last domestic 747 flight by Delta. That honor now goes to over 300 hurricane evacuees. Delta’s 747-400s will continue to fly out of Detroit to select destinations in Asia until the end of the year. By 2018, no major US-based scheduled passenger airline will operate the Boeing 747.