Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines (DL) has been busily preparing for a surge in demand for the holiday weekend. The airline acknowledges that things might not be perfect, and travelers should prepare to be patient at the airport. The airline hopes to carry over five million passengers on Thanksgiving weekend.

Delta is preparing for busy thanksgiving demand

Photo: Getty Images

NBC questioned the CEO on how the airline plans to deal with the surge and what remedies it has. Ed Bastian responded:

“Delta is known for its high quality of service and the very best people in the industry, and we’re ready. We’ve been, in fact, back since pretty much the second week of July running a high quality of reliability and service excellence that our customers expect. And that’s going to continue.”

Delta plans to manage the rise in demand over the holiday period with the 25,000 new staff it has brought onboard since the start of 2021.

Delta Air Lines Hartsfield Atlanta

Photo: Getty Images

Flight prices and shrinking seats

The airline realizes that flight prices are much higher than they were pre-pandemic, noting a 50% increase in the cost of fuel being a major contributing factor. Adding to the airline’s challenges, Delta currently operates at only 85% of its usual capacity. Delta hopes to return to 100% for a busy summer in 2023. The airline is looking forward to 10% more flights to Europe than in 2019.

Customers have theorized that the airline had been shrinking its seat sizes and limiting legroom. CEO Ed Bastian responded to the claim:

“We haven’t changed the seat size or the pitch in many, many years. In fact, Delta has increased its offerings of more spacious seating options with the ongoing expansion of its Delta Comfort+, Delta Premium Select and Delta One products.”

Delta is ready for a busy Thanksgiving travel period

Photo: Getty Images

New partners and growth in 2023

Recent announcements from the airline have included expanding services to South America and reintroducing the airline’s Atlanta to Tel Aviv service. Delta also plans to partner with Australian airline REX for domestic connections down under, to retain a slice of the Aussie pie after Virgin Australia joined forces with United Airlines.

Does a strike loom?

A vote to strike was held by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing Delta pilots. This resulted in a decision to delay any strike over the holiday period. The strike would have included up to 15,000 pilots from Delta’s books if it had gone ahead. However, Bastian claims that the idea of a vote to strike by the ALPA is simply a negotiation tactic used to intimidate the airline.

“There is no possibility they could strike at Thanksgiving, Christmas or any time. It’s a tactic that all the unions, in fact I should say all the airline unions, pilot unions, have deployed. But the reality is that we have the very best pilots, they already are the very best compensated, we’re going to make sure they stay the best compensated, so there won’t be any issue.”

However, the ALPA has announced and rebutted with clear intentions to strike, with it releasing this video:

Simple Flying will be watching the union situation closely.

Get all the latest aviation news right here on Simple Flying

  • Delta A350

    Delta Air Lines

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Boston Logan International Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, New York JFK Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Salt Lake City International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

    Year Founded:


    Ed Bastian

    United States


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