We hold no illusions that college sports is a billion-dollar business, one whose own needs typically trump our own, correct?
News out of Gainesville, Florida (the home of the University of Florida), Monday night, then, shouldn’t be surprising, as The Gainesville Sun reported that travelers on Delta Connection flight 5059 out of Gainesville Regional Airport were bumped from their Atlanta-bound flight Sunday afternoon to accommodate the Gators basketball team–one full day before the team was to play the UConn Huskies in Connecticut.
Delta told the flight’s travelers Sunday afternoon that the flight had been cancelled because of mechanical issues when several travelers looked out the window to see the team boarding the plane. Apparently, the Gators had planned to use a charter plane to get to Connecticut, but their own jet was grounded because of mechanical issues when Delta stepped in to offer flight 5059.
The Sun offered this bit as Delta’s reasoning behind the cancellation:
The airplane originally meant for the basketball team required maintenance, he wrote, and, “due to operational need and aircraft routing requirements as a result of the busy travel holiday,” Delta decided to use the other airplane and cancel the commercial flight for which it had been initially scheduled.
Several passengers were more than inconvenienced: one passenger had to call someone to meet a moving truck for his cross-country move and another missed a funeral. Delta did offer an apology and re-booked passengers on other flights; although, according to a few passengers, several had to catch planes at airports in Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville.
The team’s spokesman, Denver Parler, emailed The Sun that neither the team nor the University Athletic Association had a hand in rearranging the flight.
And as for the Gators basketball team? Well they lost to UConn on a buzzer beater by the Huskies’ Shabazz Napier.