Delta Dispatches a Boeing 747 to Help People Evacuate From Hurricane Irma

September 8, 2017, 3:07 PM UTC

Delta was well on its way to retiring the Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets in its fleet from domestic service.

Then Hurricane Irma turned toward Florida.

One of the airline’s remaining Queens of the Skies will be dispatched to Orlando from Detroit to help evacuate residents ahead of Irma making landfall. The flight is scheduled to lift off at 12:15 p.m. Eastern and scheduled to land in Florida at 3:22 p.m. Eastern. It will then fill its 376 seats and depart within the hour to land back in Michigan by 6:36 p.m.

Delta has traditionally used its Boeing 747-400 on transoceanic routes.

The airline has taken a number of steps ahead of the storm, among the strongest ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. (Though it’s now considered a Category 4 storm, at its Category 5 peak its winds were recorded at 185 m.p.h.) Delta upsized aircraft to add 3,300 seats in the days leading up to the storm on flights from Punta Cana, Nassau, Freeport, Key West, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Sarasota, and Orlando. It also capped tickets out of Florida to $399. And, in a case that made headlines across the nation, it sent one aircraft through the storm from Puerto Rico, which was battered by the event.