Close calls are the narrative glue of aviation journalism. Where would we be without stories of near-misses, mechanical failures and emergency landings?
We might be less understanding of Sean Norton’s problem. His Delta Air Lines flight from Philadelphia to Paris had to divert to Ireland on Nov. 19, causing him to miss a connecting flight. He wants to know if Delta helped him enough, given that a mechanical problem is a controllable circumstance.
This isn’t an easy case, and you’ll see why when we get into the details. But first, we have to acknowledge that things could have been much worse. Delta Flight 196 could have gone down, in which case I’d be hearing from Norton’s next of kin.
How far should an airline go to fix a schedule that’s disrupted by a mechanical failure?
Delta’s contract of carriage doesn’t address emergency landings, so the airline has a lot of discretion in addressing the issue.