Delta Air Lines Bankruptcy Emergence, Part 7: The Ultimate Stand-By

Note: Nine years ago today, Delta Air Lines formally emerged from bankruptcy protection; and this article is the seventh of a series of articles which I first wrote nine years ago today.

 was instructed to wait off to the side while awaiting to find out if I indeed would be a passenger on flight 9998 around Atlanta.

Flight 9998? I recognize that flight number. That is the flight on which I will be a passenger from Atlanta to Salt Lake CIty to Los Angeles the next day. I realized that I would eventually be a passenger aboard this aircraft on two special flights.

I was told several times that it does not look good for me. The chance of me being a passenger on this special flight was slim to none. While I was again mildly disappointed, I again reminded myself that this is for the employees of Delta Air Lines, not for me. I also reminded myself that I will have the opportunity to be a passenger aboard this aircraft on two special flights the next day. In response to the dim outlook of my boarding this aircraft for its inaugural flight, I said that I appreciated even being given the opportunity. If I can be a passenger on that flight, I would be thrilled, but if not, I understand – and I was sincere about this.

As I stood there on “stand-by”, I watched the lucky winners “check-in” and then board the aircraft. Using two laptop computers, this was a rather unique process of checking in passengers for a flight. I enjoyed watching the eagerness and anticipation on the faces of those fortunate enough to win a chance to board this aircraft to fly around Atlanta. They joked and told stories to each other as they waited on the long line that snaked towards the door of the hangar, which was now open.

I was told again that my boarding this flight will not be possible. I never approached or asked those who were in charge about my status; I simply stood there quietly in the exact spot where they told me to wait. I thought to myself how wonderful it would be to be a passenger on this historic flight, but I also thought about how that experience would be even more special and memorable to be amongst excited and joyous Delta Air Lines employees.

It was a long process, but check-in was finally nearing completion. From my vantage point, the view of the aircraft appeared to be full. If I was not going to be able to board this flight, at least will be able to start this “blog” and have some lunch. Perhaps I could take pictures of the aircraft in flight.

Will I be a passenger on this flight or not? I finally found out when the Delta Air Lines employee who would ultimately determine my fate came over to me and…

Your eyes are not deceiving you: those are two laptop computers being used to check in passengers for inaugural flight 9998 around Atlanta. There are no check-in facilities in an aircraft hangar where some of the technical operations of Delta Air Lines are housed, so an improvisation of technology was required. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

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