Today (4-19-11) I was a customer on DL 3809 from Ft Smith, AR (FSM) to Memphis (MEM), a Canadaire Regional Jet flight. The flight was delayed into FSM a little, as the ticket counter advised me. I asked if it was weather in MEM, but was told tha the plane was flying slow, due to having to keep the landing gear down. I did not really believe that statement, but he seemed sincere. I boarded and during the taxi out, the pilot announced that we would have a slightly louder flight to MEM, and gave a delayed ETA. He explained that we would be flying slower and lower, due to having the landing gear down for the trip back to MEM. Wow! It WAS TRUE!!
Now, I can agree (without really knowing details) that this probably was not a real flight safety issue. But, something was really wrong with the bird, and Pinnacle (the regional feeder dba Delta Connection) made a decision to send the plane from MEM to FSM with passengers, and the return flight on which I was a passenger. And, MEM is their hub and maintenence location! Why did they not delay, sub a plane, or just cancel?? It would have screwed my travel today, but keeping public confidence in safe operations in the airline business seems to me to be a major priority!!
Check out the flight on April 19, DL 3809 from FSM to MEM, filed for 7,000 ft and 274 k - for a regional jet. (275 k must be the max gear down speed, but that seems rather fast to my uneducated reasoning.)
I do anticipate Delta had no vote in this management decision, but it bore their brand. I will let them know. In my flight experience as a commercial customer, I have never had anything similar, nor heard of it. I became a million miler on DL over 15 years ago, and some since then have added much more, including the NWA merger. Seems to me a real boneheaded decision in dealing with the public confidence. (You should have seen the faces and comments after the pilot’s announcement!!)