Ahead of Hurricane Irma's landfall in Puerto Rico, a Delta Air Lines flight from NY was able to burn into San Juan this afternoon, load up passengers, and squeak out again, threading its way through a rain band as the hurricane approached. "Following that, reopening the ports is a top priority, but we have to make sure we also do it safely".
Delta flight 431 chose to go it alone, racing from New York's JFK airport directly into the path of the storm for its destination: San Juan.
As Hurricane Irma bore down on the southern United States on Wednesday, airlines adjusted flight schedules, made cancellations and assured passengers they would not have to pay unusually high fares ahead of the storm's arrival. That was his biggest piece of advice for Florida who is next on Irma's path.
A picture of the flight board in the airport showed every other departing and arriving flight to and from San Juan Airport canceled, except for the lone Delta flight.
"You really want to fly into SJU during a category 5 hurricane, DL431?"
Scenes of damage in San Juan, Puerto Rico hit hard for some Western New Yorkers who have ties to the island.
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Shortly thereafter, the Delta jet was back in the air, on its way back to NY as Flight 302 before conditions at the airport became too extreme for commercial airline operation. On the ground, the Atlanta-based carrier and its staff managed to drop off passengers, unload luggage, refuel, reload luggage, and reload passengers in just 52 minutes, Rabinowitz said.
Harp said many businesses are closed because they don't have power while others are running on generators.
"Our meteorology team is the best in the business", Erik Snell, Delta's vice president for operations, said in a statement.
Luckily, a hotel in old San Juan had a vacancy for her, a spot she plans to ride out the storm.
While it looked terrifying, Delta maintains their pilots had everything under control.
Winds were 28 to 36 miles per hour when the flight landed, which is well below the safety limits for the aircraft.