Delta Flight Takes Off from Puerto Rico Airport During Hurricane Irma

Sunday, 10 Sep, 2017

United Airlines, which took a substantial financial hit when Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas last week, said it had suspended operations out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, a US territory that was being raked by the very powerful Category 5 hurricane on Wednesday afternoon, and had extended a travel waiver to include cities in south Florida.

The paper reported that when the 737-900ER plane reached San Juan at 12:01 p.m., winds registered at 28 miles per hour to 36 miles per hour - well within the safety limits for that type of aircraft.

With Hurricane Irma hovering ominously off the coast of Puerto Rico, most flights were turning around.

A satellite image of the plane's path almost intertwining with Irma's path left many observing the event on edge.

Jason Rabinowitz, who calls himself an "aviation geek" according to the Washington Post, was watching the flights on Flightradar24 as Delta flew close to the storm.

People in Puerto Rico know well the impact a Category 5 hurricane can have.

Though flight deplaning is a largely long and frustrating process, Delta said that in this case it was a walk in the park.

The plane, a Boeing 737-900, taxied for 27 minutes before taking off at 8:39 a.m. ET, Flightaware data shows.

It was a tumultuous night outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico, but JC Marquez and his family made it through. "Believe me, not good", he said.

Erik Snell, the Vice President of Delta Opearations, said their meteorology "is the best in the business".

Hundreds of flights were cancelled due to the storm, but the crew for Delta flight 431 decided they were up for the challenge.

At no point during the 3 1/2-hour flight time were the winds on the course particularly unsafe but conditions were "rapidly degrading" as time went on.

Despite the delay in leaving NY, the flight managed to get out of Puerto Rico at 12:41pm, 24 minutes ahead of its scheduled takeoff. "Flight 302 then departed San Juan at 12:41 p.m., just 40 minutes after landing, with 173 customers on board". That's one of the reasons why Flores Vazques said he didn't feel safe enough to leave the San Juan area.

While it looked terrifying, Delta maintains their pilots had everything under control.