Clipped Wings: Flying — and Not Flying –During COVID-19 (Guest Post)

Guest Posts

You may remember reading about Korry Franke, a now Newark-based 737 pilot who wrote the book 3 Feet to the Left, here on the blog. I reached out to Korry to ask how things were going from a pilot perspective, and he offered to write a column on his experiences and feelings. Sadly, it sounds like Korry will end up going 3 feet in the other direction once this is over, but then again, that’s a much better outcome than the furloughs that many will likely experience.

Oh, one more thing before I turn it over to Korry. The thoughts and views expressed in this column are Korry’s alone, completely independent of any affiliation with his employer.

As I write this, the largest pilot “displacement” bid in my airline’s history has just closed. In some ways, it was similar to a high-stakes game of musical chairs.

To adjust for the unprecedented drop in passenger demand from COVID-19, the company instructed more than 4,000 pilots in suddenly overstaffed fleets and bases to stand up. It then moved or removed various blocks of pilot chairs from the game, such as all the Boeing 787 seats in Los Angeles and some of the 737 captain seats in Newark. Then the music began. Pilots mulled around nervously, evaluating the changed landscape and searching for the best place to sit down. When the music stopped, pilots used their company-wide seniority numbers to claim a new seat.

This resulting downward shuffle has rippled through the entire airline. Displaced Boeing 777 captains have become 757/767 captains. Displaced 757/767 captains have become 737 and Airbus 320 captains. Displaced 737 captains like me have shuffled down into first officer seats on a variety of fleets. I was fortunate to end up on the 787, but who knows how long that will last. The downward cascade continued until every pilot at the airline had a seat… for now. But no one knows what October may bring.

Admittedly, this feels like an alternate universe compared to a few months ago when we celebrated one of the best profit sharing days in my airline’s history.

But then the COVID-19 light switch flipped. And everything changed.

The passenger counts from my last three trips make the downward trend easy to spot. In late February, I flew jam-packed planes for four days. A week later, my flights departed with only a few open seats here and there. On my last 4-day trip in the middle of March, however, the passenger counts fell off a cliff. Smack dab in the middle of spring break season, my flights averaged about 100 open seats. One flight managed only 21 passengers. The lone flight carrying more than 100 people did so only after several cruise lines stranded vacationers by canceling sailings from Fort Lauderdale.

The truth is, those numbers don’t tell the whole story of how it felt to fly during the darkest moments of this pandemic. Perhaps this will.

My first taste came while making my welcome aboard announcement from the front of my 737’s cabin. Instead of friendly smiles, I saw facemasks. Instead of excitement, I felt anxiety—at least from the few passengers actually occupying seats at all. In an attempt to ease the palpable fear and uncertainty, I ended my announcement by saying something like, “If you’re trying to determine what things you should fear, let this flight not be one of them. We’ve got your back.”

I’m fairly certain, however, that everyone felt alone — especially flights crews at hotels.

On a layover in Seattle, flight crews made up the overwhelming majority of what limited guests were on property. In Norfolk, after the hotel restaurant shut down along with other local establishments, I literally walked through the drive-through line of a Chick-fil-A. Then I stopped at a grocery store to purchase several boxes of protein bars in case the crews flying with me the next day needed them.

Like dominos, the industry began to fall down, block by block. Flights canceled. Planes were parked. It seemed the only things flying were the memos coming off the proverbial printing presses detailing operational changes, including guidance for the proper contact time of disinfectant wipes used for cleaning cockpit switches before each flight.

In mid-April, I was called to the airport to fly an empty Boeing 737 to Texas. Prior to leaving my house, I tucked a letter certifying I was an essential worker into my flight bag…just in case I got stopped for violating the new shelter-in-place orders. On the employee bus, yellow caution tape covered every other seat to preserve social distancing standards. But with only two other employees on the bus, social distancing wasn’t much of a problem anyway. Inside the terminal, there were no long queues of passengers waiting at security. No crowded concourses. No open restaurants or coffee shops. It felt like I had landed on the surface of the moon—this eerie, desolate place I barely recognized. There was only me and a handful of my colleagues…and a cleaner riding a floor scrubber. I couldn’t help but take a few selfies. When would I ever see Newark this way again? I hoped the answer was never.

Almost fittingly, even that ferry flight canceled. So, back home I went, making sure to wipe down my luggage and take a shower before touching anyone or anything once I got there.

While a few friends of mine have flown trips since then, I have not. In fact, as I write this, it’s been 68 days since I last flew an airplane. Only the gap between my last flight at American Eagle Airlines and my first flight at Continental Airlines has been longer. Considering I flew Boeing 757/767 simulators over that span, this is effectively my longest gap without flying since I began, well, flying. That was 21 years ago in high school!

I miss flying dearly. I miss the busy-ness, the crowds, and the middle of the night calls from crew scheduling assigning me a trip. I miss the jovial attitudes of colleagues and the mundane shop talk that has now turned to uneasy questions about the future. Heck, I even miss the delays. (Did I really just write that??)

My wife misses me flying, too. She knows I’m not the same with my wings clipped, and the introvert in her misses her quiet time!

Pilots are meant to soar. We’re meant to see blue sky every day, to explore new cities and visit the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants only flight crews know how to find.

Every morning, I remind myself, this, too, shall pass. The crowds will return. This crisis will end. And COVID-19 will become a good war story to tell at 38,000 feet while droning along over the Great Plains or the North Atlantic.

The glimmers of hope increase almost daily. Take, for instance, the daily count of passengers screened by the TSA. Since April 20, the 7-day moving average has increased every day. Sure, passenger throughput is still only one-tenth of last year, but it indicates the bleeding has stopped and the rebuilding has begun. Then there are news reports indicating airlines are beginning to upgauge aircraft on certain routes (such as swapping regional jets to 737s, or small 737s to larger 737s). Extra flights are being added. Even certain international routes are being reinstated.

Yes, we have a long way to go. No, the recovery won’t happen overnight. But perhaps — just perhaps — we’re seeing the world’s unprecedented hibernation nearing its end. When it does, I’ll be eager to get back in the saddle—whether as a captain or a first officer.

Until then, I’ll keep my uniform pressed and my bag packed…with a few face masks and protein bars tucked inside, of course.

I’ll also continue reminding myself that smooth skies always follow the turbulence, and that the faint pin-prick of light along the horizon on an overnight flight indicates the dawn of a new day is fast approaching.

May that light continue to grow for all of us in the weeks and months ahead.

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39 comments on “Clipped Wings: Flying — and Not Flying –During COVID-19 (Guest Post)

  1. This is a great article, Korry. We miss being on your flights as much as you miss piloting them. Hopefully things will return to normal before too long and we can enjoy the 787 rides.

  2. Korry

    I sit here at home, a plane, airport and airline geek who is also an air traffic controller. I share your love of all things aviation geekdome, even the delays. As I approach retierment I wonder what the aviation world will look like 3 years from now. My hopes are that the world, and our beloved industry will be healthier and on its way to recovery. There are many places I want to fly to, all while knowing the sky is the most awesome place on earth. People like me appreciate people like you who make the joy of flight possible. Stay safe and healthy. Hopefully in a few years we will all look back on this time and think, well that was weird.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s pretty obvious now that the virus isn’t as bad as we feared in March, and that the world is slowly starting to return to normal. I think we will see 1 million daily TSA enplanements sometime in July, and that will be a happy day. I imagine that pilots are happy now when they go to pick up an aircraft in storage and return it to service. I think I might have to hold back the tears of joy doing that. @JonNYC tracks some of these increasingly common flights on twitter and they always make me smile.

    1. ‘It’s pretty obvious now that the virus isn’t as bad as we feared in March’ – on what basis do you draw that conclusion? Not enough dead people, yet?

      This virus does awful things to otherwise healthy people – just because there is irresponsible pressure to open up states, it doesn’t mean the virus, and its effects, have gone away. And yes, I get the economic damage and suffer from it, too (as I sit, waiting, for my H1B application to go through so that I can stake up a new job). The virus spread initially through infected people flying – why the rush to expose your fellow citizens to another wave of infections (in the absence of any decent therapeutic drugs, or safely validated antibody)?

    2. iahphx – I strongly disagree with the statement that “It’s pretty obvious now that the virus isn’t as bad as we feared in March.” The reason it’s not as bad as we feared is precisely because of all the measures we put in place. This is why stay at home orders are so difficult. It’s the lack of disaster that’s considered success, and in this case, it’s been quite successful. Even with that “success,” we’ve seen 100,000 people die.
      Without the actions taken by state and local governments, we’d be in much worse shape at this point.

      1. I trust your airline judgment Cranky, but your COVID judgment isn’t so great. Yes, the virus is FAR less lethal than we believed in March. I suspect the news sources you rely on for COVID news are too invested in the apocalypse narrative and are downplaying the virus data that is streaming in. Back in March, when we locked down, Dr. Fauci thought the fatality rate for COVID-19 was about 2% (less than what the WHO said at the time). On Friday, the CDC lowered the SYMPTOMATIC fatality rate to 0.4% — but noted that AT LEAST 35% of cases are asymptomatic. This puts the fatality rate, at most, at .26% — almost 1/10th of what we previously thought! And, of course, the vast majority of deaths have turned out to be from patients over 65, with the majority of these from individuals who were already dying from other illnesses in nursing homes. Had we known all this is April, only a madman would have locked down the economy. Rather, resources would have been committed to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, and the rest of us would have gone about our lives as usual (like we’ve always done in the past with similar bad virus seasons). I’m also troubled by your belief that “the measures we put in place” have helped us. That’s a religious-like belief. There is NO scientific evidence that ANY lives have been saved by lockdowns. That’s not surprising, of course, because the original idea of the lockdowns was NOT to directly save lives, but to “flatten the curve” and avoid over-burdening our hospitals. We did this too late in NYC to matter and we never got close to over-burdening any other hospital system. Because the vast majority of virus cases are acquired in congregate housing facilities (nursing homes, prisons, hospitals) or in homes from fellow family members, lockdowns do little to nothing to reduce cases anyway. This is why the corpses did not pile up in Georgia, Texas and Florida when they reopened, and the same exact thing happened in Europe. Honestly, you need to make better use of your data skills to appreciate all of this; listening to the mainstream media is detrimental to absorbing the science. Fortunately for America, most people, including Wall Street investors, are understanding that our “experts” got this wrong, and that’s why the economy — and the airline sector — are now bouncing back. This is obviously great news for everyone.

        1. iahphx – Alright, I’ll bite. I’m not sure how you are so confident that we thought we “knew” the mortality rate in March. I saw things all over the map back then with huge variance by geography. Even now, I have low confidence that we know. All I know is that the numbers are not good. In the worst flu season we had this decade, there were approx 61,000 deaths over a 6 month period. ( COVID-19 is more than 60% higher than that in a 3 month period. There will be plenty of tearing apart of the data and refining it over time to get to a true number, as there always is. There are a million ways to slice and dice who dies and who is most vulnerable. In the end, we know this is fairly contagious and we know we don’t have sufficient treatments. Those death numbers are big, and even if some groups aren’t vulnerable, they can spread it to those who are.

          There’s no question that a lockdown is like using a sledgehammer to hang a picture, but that’s because there was no better idea at the time. The more we learn, the better we can target responses in the future, and that was always the plan from what I read. You can point to states reopening and not seeing an impact, but that is hardly settled. Here’s a good article talking about Georgia and how it all depends on who you ask to look at the numbers:

          Ultimately, we will find ways to reopen and attack this more surgically in the future. That’s what always happens when you have more data and more knowledge. I expect the lockdowns will scientifically be proven to be helpful, but things don’t move that quickly to give you the proof you want. This has been moving at what I’d consider a rapid pace, but that’s not as fast as anyone would like it to be.

          Lastly, I don’t appreciate the condescending, personal attacks suggesting that somehow I’m not actually looking deeper than what’s on the surface.
          It’s not true and it’s uncalled for.

          1. Re: LA Times article….yes there are lots of numbers being thrown about out there. Makes you wonder who to believe for sure. I have a nurse friend who works for Emory Healthcare which has a network of 9 large hospitals in the Atlanta metro. The employees are updated weekly of number of covid cases in their system and it’s gone from over 900 in early April to less than 100 now. Also, the LA Times, like most media these days, have an agenda to push (in this case left leaning).

          2. The problem is that both sides are technical correct, or incorrect, however you want to view it. It’s the classic conundrum of shifting the burden of proof. You cannot prove a negative. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

            One can easily say “had we not done what we did there would’ve been more deaths” because there is no way to prove that, just as there is no way to prove “things would’ve been the same had we done nothing.”

            As has been stated, the science is still out. Maybe someday we will have enough data that lets us run models with some degree of certainty but even that will just be a more educated guess.

            We are all entitled to our opinions but unfortunately the dividing line has been drawn so sharply in this discussion. Each side feeds off itself in a group think environment and dissenters are shut out. Remind you of politics much?

            The actual best response to Covid probably lies somewhere in-between each side but unfortunately neither party is willing to give an inch.

            All I know is it has been months since I was on a plane and that makes me sad.

            1. After all the blathering between you, Iahphx & others since last week that this was an overreaction to a virus that wasn’t all that serious, the best response you could come up with is “All I know is it has been months since I was on a plane and that makes me sad?”

              I’m just at a loss for words right now & that’s rare.

          3. Cranky — I apologize if you find my post “condescending” or personal. I did not mean it to be. I guess I became “argumentative” when you wrote that “I strongly disagree with the statement that ‘It’s pretty obvious now that the virus isn’t as bad as we feared in March.’” There are many things that can be reasonably debated about COVID-19, but I don’t see how we can reasonably debate that one. The level of fear — not of it all irrational given what we knew at the time — made us do things that seem quite foolhardy now. Personally, I am very grateful that things have not turned out as badly as many predicted. As far as the benefits of “actions by state and local governments,” I suggest you watch the unfolding situation in Brazil. Their government looks inept to me — perhaps the worst in the world. Let’s see what happens in the next few weeks. Based on the science so far, I suspect their outcome won’t be much worse than what it has been in the USA and Europe. If that happens, don’t expect to see that story covered by our mainstream media. Indeed, once the body count starts dropping, I suspect you’ll never read about it again in those publications.

            1. So you don’t believe that community spread is an issue?

              The president of Brazil is a wanabe dictator like Trump who was pushing the same failed drug as a cure for Covid 19 FYI & refused to put in place the same measures that most states have done to contain the virus.

        2. You are a very sad and uninformed person re the lockdown. The country must improve so the economy can restart and not with people spreading the virus while working and congregating in large crowds.. The lockdown slowed the spread, attempted to help NYC hospitals , etc… but altogether , after reading your uneducated words ; I could go on and on here but it’s really not worth my time or energy .

    3. Actually the information coming out now is confirming that the virus is a lot worse than it just causing respiratory distress. In fact, within the past couple of months, physicians are realizing that this virus is causing systemic vascularitis of the ENTIRE body. This was NOT seen with the initial SARS COV virus in 2002-2003. This SARS COV 2 virus can cause multi-organ damage on an unprecedented scale. While the fatality rate is not as bad as SARS in 2002-2003, this SARS COV 2 virus seems to be more contagious. That’s why it became a pandemic easily spreading everywhere but it was not the case in 2002 just limiting to countries in Asia. To those people who think that certain state governments overreacted with the lockdown or shelter in place, sorry you’re completely wrong and do not understand the science behind the virology, pathology and epidemiology of the virus – A.T. Bachelors in Biochem and Doctor of Pharmacy

  4. This past weekend I was driving by a local hotel and couldn’t help but notice what was clearly a flight crew getting on or off the hotel’s shuttle in their uniforms and with their rolling suitcases. It gave me a moment of feeling some normalcy remembering that there will be a time for me to take my suitcase out of the closet and fly again.

    Appreciate all you pilots due!

  5. Despite one airline executive saying in the past five years that “we will never lose money again,” the rest of the aviation world knows that airlines are at the pointed end of a spear that repeatedly has to fight through the world’s biggest and most daunting issues.

    The world will recover from this virus, the damage will take years to heal, and there will be enormous personal lives that won’t live long enough to recoup what they have lost – both in the airline industry and outside of it.

    Pilots often pay the highest price in these crises since they have the least transferability of their skills at the salaries they make but airline employees across the board will take yet another hit. Airlines will use this crisis to become leaner and more efficient – and as for-profit businesses, they have no choice but to do so.

    If there is any consolation, Korry, it is that United is working very hard to be a survivor and not have to repeat chapter 11; crises always bring about division and that will occur as United works through its recovery with some believing there might be an easier way.

    May you be flying full schedules again soon.

    Until then, all the best to you and yours.

    1. Hey Tim — I thought of you this morning when I read about the Latam bankruptcy. That multi-billion DL investment a few months ago sure is looking brilliant now. :) It’s gone about as well as that oil refinery investment.

      1. I was just going to tell you that you nailed it above. Now I have to address your inaccurate statements.

        First, Latam is reorganizing in bankruptcy with the US as the lead court venue because that is where the majority of their debts are. They will still operate just as the big 3 and all of their merger partners did.
        Both DL and LTM also signed an agreement yesterday that the commercial relationship between the two and the joint venture and application for it would survive bankruptcy and neither party can terminate it unilaterally. In case you missed it, the JV IS the reason DL started any dealings with LTM.
        You do realize that American did not cancel all equity in its chapter 11 trip? It is not a given that equity will be wiped out. Delta AND Qatar both hold large equity positions in LTM and so if equity is wiped out, it will be both. You can’t wipe out one stockholder of the same class of stock and retain the other.
        QR also provided debtor in possession financing. DL obviously cannot due to CARES Act regulations. QR could agree to wipe out all stockholders including its own and replace it with equity from the DIP but then it is them that you have to call the most stupid airline to continually spend Qatari government revenues to invest in airlines that end up going belly up.

        The commercial relationship wiht DL is far more valuable to LTM than a commercial relationship with QR. It’s purely about global geography.

        And the refinery has contributed over $1.5 billion in lower fuel costs to Delta including a 5 cent/gallon lower fuel cost compared to American in 2019 and 7 cents less than UAL… those are Delta’s most direct competitors. As much as you want to believe the refinery was a financial disaster, actual facts and data show otherwise.

        I was going to just praise you on your post above but now I have to use your own words to CF to use actual data and not your bias to see the airline industry – or anything else in the world.

        And, finally, we still haven’t seen the final dominoes fall in the US airline industry. I still think the chances are very high that a US airline will file for chapter 11 or be forced to liquidate because of a lack of funding. If any US airline files for even C11, it will be a far bigger splash than LTM.

        1. And Delta got out of four Volkswagens (A-350s) by paying LATAM over $60 million NOT to take them. To date, the A-350 program at Delta has been very poorly executed. And now, another $60 million has been thrown away. Pathetic.

          1. The $62 million also ensured that the commercial agreement cannot be terminated in bankruptcy and that the JV will still move forward. That is worth way more than $60 million.

            Since the Latam A350s would have to be reconfigured to Delta cabin standards, they probably aren’t spending much more to terminate the agreement than they would to acquire brand new aircraft. I’m sure they have done the math even if you have not.

            And, again, Delta did spend a lot on equity investments in other carriers and yet all of the carriers are, so far, expected to remain in business with Delta as partners.

            The amount that Delta spent on equity investments in other carriers is still less than what AAL and UAL spent on stock buybacks relative to the cash that both of those carriers generated. Even LUV spent more money than DAL on buybacks relative to the cash they generated. DAL was generating $8 billion in cash per year for multiple years recently.

            Based on some analyst estimates, Delta is expected to be able to stop burning cash after 9/30 with United and Southwest likely close to that timeframe.

            As much as you love to throw stones in good times or bad, Delta was and still is running a good business.

            And since this article is not from a Delta pilot, even the article’s employer is making very positive steps to stop the bleeding and keep the company between the guardrails. Much more of the industry will recover but with bruises than not.

            1. Evidently, the $1.9 BILLION already wasted on LATAM isn’t enough to continue Delta’s “commercial agreement” with them. So let’s throw another $62 million at it. Maybe we can find another $38 million to toss their way and make it a nice fat $2 BILLION. Then we can boast how much shareholder value we’ve destroyed. Do us a favor, Mr. Dunn, and tally up ALL the JV losses Delta has incurred. How many billions, please. Then explain to all the Delta Employees sitting at home without being paid where their paycheck went. And convince us, once again, how attractive Delta’s junk bond status is to venture capital.

              You claim that Delta was minting money for years prior to this. So please explain how, despite all that profit, Delta’s securities never achieved more than one rating higher than junk bond status. I’ll answer it for you: the investment community knew Delta was a house of cards all along. Too much debt. Too much arrogance. Too enamored with ATL to see the value of point-to-point service in growing its network. Had Delta invested those squandered BILLIONS in building BOS, AUS, BNA, SJC…etc… would be in much better shape exiting the pandemic. Instead, it has Tim Dunn gaslighting for it. Pathetic.

            2. @varsity,
              You clearly are driven by an irrational blindness instead of the ability to look at facts.

              The simple answer is that Delta has not lost a single dime in any of its equity partnerships yet.

              First, you have to sell an asset in order to incur a loss. DL has sold none of its equity investments. The carrying value of assets is revalued – but let’s also not pretend that the value of thousands of aircraft worldwide are worth far less than what many airlines are carrying them at which is part of why some airlines can’t access the capital markets.

              second, even with the bankruptcy filing of LTM, DAL has not lost anything. It will take months if not years for the case to play out and it is possible that equity might not be wiped out. American did not wipe out its stockholders in its C11 process. Again, as hard as it is for you to accept, QR was an equity investor in LTM; wiping out equity has to wipe out DAL and QR.

              third, DL has raised $10 billion in the private markets. There isn’t a single US airline, including LUV, that has raised more debt since the beginning of the year. LUV has also raised equity which DL has chosen not to do but DL’s strategy of not holding cash because it could access capital markets has been proven to be valid. While don’t you tell us how much capital AA and UA have raised in the private markets? It has been a much lower number than DL and UA had to cancel a debt offering because the collateral was spread over too many aircraft that were too old. AA is literally holding on for dear life for the proceeds from a federal loan that might not be approved. UA had to pull its debt offering because the market wanted 11%. DL’s debt offering for 7% was increased to nearly twice what UA wanted. You truly don’t want to start arguing about DL’s ability to raise debt if you have a clue about the actual facts involved.

              fourth, if you came close to looking at DOT revenue data for each of the cities you mentioned, DL was the fastest growing airline on a percentage basis in all of those markets and in BOS had achieved revenue parity with B6. None of us have any idea how well any of this will all end up, but there will be validation or not at some point whether DL’s strategies before the virus crisis were sound enough to carry it through a crisis of this magnitude and to allow it to hold onto its market positioning during the crisis. I can absolutely assure you that some of DL’s most direct competitors will come out far more bruised and with far lower market share in some of the industry’s most competitive markets.

              Finally, the only thing that is pathetic is that you and IAHPHX have turned a perfectly good blog post/article from someone that is being personally impacted by this virus into a bashfest about one of his employer’s competitors – and you can’t even get the basic facts right on subject after subject.

              Honestly, standing up for what you believe is laudable. Making a fool of yourself by using arguments that anyone with a remote knowledge of the subject know are inaccurate is the only thing that is…. wait, wait, pathetic.

              Even the covid-19 crisis proves that facts and data can be interpreted differently. IAHPHX would do well to remember that covid-19 has become the third rail of discussion in America for 2020. Tread gently.
              Topics such as business will always be subject to manipulation of facts and data but the outcome, perhaps not unlike covid-19 government actions, will be able to verified as being correct or not at some point.

              All the best, Korry. Airlines breed incredibly strong emotions. not all of them are good.

        2. And I thought I nailed “reality” in both my posts in this thread. :)

          And I didn’t even mention that Delta’s investment in Virgin Atlantic is also about to go to zero. Of course, that’s chump change compared to what they’ll lose on Latam. Look, every company makes mistakes, but next time Delta wants to “invest” in something other than Delta, its shareholders should stop them. Their track record is poor.

          1. First, Mr. Dunn, it’s not “Korry.” It’s “Captain Franke.” He has accomplished more in his short lifetime than you EVER will.
            Second, I only responded to you after you took another cheap shot at Doug Parker. YOU started this.
            Third, please answer my question: How many BILLIONS has Delta blown on their JV failures?
            Fourth, perhaps you can devote some ink to explain to the TENS OF THOUSANDS of Delta Employees why they are at home, out of work, trying to get by, while Delta throws bad money around the hemisphere.

            If you think I’m not intimately aware of the inner workings of Delta, perhaps YOU can explain to the readers how Captain Dickson left the Vice President of Flight Operations position at Delta. How and why that happened long before he became the FAA Administrator.

            And now you’re actually bragging that Delta has borrowed more money at better rates than AA and UA. Maybe Delta borrowed more because it felt it might need more. Hint: How indebted a company is does not reflect its strength to investors.

            I will never forget watching Ed Bastain at the CES in Vegas this year. You could actually see the spittle coming out of his mouth as he boasted of Delta’s industry leading customer service. How Delta was pulling away from the other carriers. The fact is the DL/NW merger should have put Delta in an unassailable position. The decertification of the Flight Attendant Union, the breaking of the NW Mechanics Union, and the Delta Pilot group’s unwillingness to address all the now-PATHETIC JV wide-body outsourcing has finally returned home with a vengeance.

            1. we’ll make this simple because you still cannot grasp that Delta has not lost a penny on its EQUITY strategies.
              United has written down its investment in Avianca. It also has equity investments in Azul.
              American has an equity investment in China Southern that still resulted in American pulling service to China BEFORE the virus crisis. DL and UA are ready to return wiht passenger service to China but AA?

              How about you tell us about the Delta employees that volunteered to take time off leaves even before the CARES Act? Are you bitter that Delta is the only one of the big 3 that figured out to cut hours for its full-time employees and also encouraged its employees to apply for unemployment insurance if necessary. Don’t worry about stuff that is way above what you can do. Kamala Harris is on Delta and JetBlue’s case so if there is some legitimacy to her complaints, the Treasury, not me or you, will act.

              finally, you might explain why you instinctively have a need to defend Doug Parker or any other executive of any publicly traded company?

              I’ll simply stop here by noting how CF himself referred to his guest writer.
              “Oh, one more thing before I turn it over to Korry”

  6. Sucks, doesn’t it?

    Consider this…

    There’s probably a kid in college right now learning to fly that won’t experience any of this pain. He’ll get hired in a year or two at some crappy outfit at a really young age. Your airline will merge with that one, he’ll end up senior to you and write a book about how all his hard work and perseverance really paid off.

    I wouldn’t wish the things we went through on anyone… including yourself. However, are you starting to “get it” now?

  7. Well said, with optimism and heart!!!

    God Bless the economy and the American people for a quickening re-bound of for all business and people, not just the airlines.

    We are in this together and will succeed and prevail!!!

  8. Well said Korry!

    I also enjoyed your first book “3 Feet to the Left” – and can’t wait for your second! And, no – I won’t engage in guessing game as to what you might call it!

    Thanks to CF for having you on as a guest!

    Take care – be safe – and wash your hands!

  9. I’m shocked you were able to order via the drive-up without being in a car :-D That would make for some interesting Facebook memes and posts, considering what we’re ordered to believe about that particular chain vs others.

  10. @iahphx

    You are SO right about your comments.

    I have also looked at the data and see similar numbers.

    According to Worldometer (the statistics aggregator that Johns Hopkins uses for the coronavirus dashboard) as of today, of the 2,913,268 patients currently infected with covid-19 worldwide, 98% (2,860,168) are in mild condition. Only 2% are listed as serious or critical.

    What is also not noted is how states are skewing the death toll higher.

    In Illinois, for example, if you die of any other cause but also have covid-19, they are counting you as a covid-19 death.

    Since it appears that there is a dispute about the data AND since this is an airline blog, I suggest the following when it comes to flying.

    The airlines create mask and no mask sections of the plane similar to what they used to have with smoking/no smoking sections.

    We already have the precedent for this in that smoking/non-smoking model for the airlines.

    That way those of us that don’t believe that a mask in a flight offers any legitimate protection and that the numbers from covid-19 are overblown, can sit separately from those that prefer to mask.

    We could even have a curtain (maybe one that looks like a face mask) that would separate the two cabins (think the curtain between first and econ) since supposedly any cloth covering is better than none.

    The airline could even remove a row of seats between those two sections if they wanted to enforce social distancing while only losing 6 revenue seats in economy.

    If you decide not to wear a mask, and sit in the no mask section you would also have to sign a waiver saying that if you catch covid-19 you won’t hold the airline liable.

    I would have no problems signing the waiver.

    That way it allows for people to make their own decisions based on their assessment.

    With that, we could get people flying much quicker and get Korry back into his left seat!

    1. ‘if you die of any other cause but also have covid-19, they are counting you as a covid-19 death’

      That’s how death certificates work. How else do you think people ‘die’ from COVID-19 – simply by having it in their system? They die from pneumonia, from multiple organ failure, from cardiovascular episodes etc. – all helped along by SARS-CoV2. So states are not inflating their mortality figures. Currently, the US has 3 times more deaths from COVID than a year with bad influenza, 3 times more deaths from COVID than through car accidents or gun-related deaths. Just because you haven’t succumbed, doesn’t mean that it’s not a problem for the rest of society.

      1. @ Bobber

        What was said by the state health director in Illinois is that even if it were confirmed that you died of something else (for example cancer) but also had covid-19, you would be counted as a covid-19 death.

        How is that not inflating the count?

        Add to that that now to be counted as someone that has covid-19 or a death with covid-19, you can be presumed to have covid-19 (for example having some of the symptoms) without actually having been tested and confirmed for having covid-19. (source CDC)

        How is that not inflating the count?

  11. As a fairly junior 737 captain at another major airline, Korry’s post exactly mirrors my own experience. I haven’t been called to fly since early April, and on that last day, our leg to FLL had exactly one paying passenger. So naturally, instead of “Ladies and Gentlemen,” my P.A.’s addressed her by name. “Good afternoon, _____________________, if you’ve ever wondered what flying on your own private jet would be like, today’s your lucky day.” Then, arriving back at my home base at the end of the trip, on exiting the terminal, I looked back at the TSA lines to see if I could gauge how many passengers were waiting in line at 3:15pm. It was a quick count. Exactly one person was waiting to go through security.

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