Delta people rallied to take care of traveling customers and each other this week amid extremely cold temperatures stretching from the Midwest down into the Mid-Atlantic United States.While it's not unusual for Delta's northern hubs like Minneapolis and Detroit to experience bitter winters, this week's exceptionally intense Polar Vortex proved no match for the airline's operations teams' commitment to getting customers on their way.
In the same way that Delta's Minneapolis de-ice Go Team flies south for winter weather events in Atlanta, 44 employees from the airline's largest hub and its Salt Lake City station donned their heaviest layered jackets and psyched themselves up before flying north to provide relief for their fellow crew members working in the cold.
"Who else would run to -27 F degree weather to work outside and support their colleagues? Without hesitation the Delta team pulled together and got it done," said Greg Kennedy, Senior Vice President – Airport Operations. "We've seen this time and time again, and it never ceases to amaze me. There is a special bond among our employees who have such a commitment to be there for one another — no matter what."
Atlanta-based Basal Nain, a lead ramp agent who, despite being Jamaican-born and a stranger to sub-zero temperatures, jumped at the chance to volunteer to help his colleagues. "I am here to help and I am always ready to take on a new challenge to support my colleagues." His colleague Jaquita Allen shared his sentiment, saying, "I'm part of the diversion team in Atlanta, and this is what we do. I am always eager to help out the Delta family."
Minneapolis employees sought any opportunity to lend a helping hand amid the frigid temperatures.
"We had our entire safety team on site, circling the employee parking lots to assist with car trouble, handing out hot soup and hand warmers, making sure that our ramp employees had a chance to warm up between flights," said Steven Grenz, Manager – Below Wing Operations. "This is Minnesota — our employees came and conquered."
Minneapolis tower agent Samantha Gillies, who previously worked on the ramp, posted to social media saying, "To all the MSP rampees out there — y'all are the real MVPs. Thanks for being willing to work outside and get our passengers out, despite everything but emergency services being shut down. Your awesomeness does not go unnoticed! If you need hand warmers, please call us in the tower and we will get someone to bring them out to you! Take lots of breaks and put your safety first in these freezing temps."The airline cancelled approximately 170 flights Wednesday between mainline and Delta Connection as a result of the subzero temps in the Upper Midwest as well as winter precipitation in the Northeast. Despite some early morning start up challenges in Chicago caused by a frozen fuel pump system, Delta teams kept flights moving throughout the day by loading aircraft and de-icing where needed and getting customers safely to their destinations.
"We want all of our customers to see that Delta has their backs during their travel — especially when it's this cold," said Paul Rhodes — MSP Sky Club.
Acknowledging the challenges brought on by the cold weather, Delta customers took to social media to thank frontline employees — especially those working outside — for keeping the operation moving despite the frigid winter weather.