Wild: Delta Captain Charters A330 For Retirement Flight To Hawaii

Wild: Delta Captain Charters A330 For Retirement Flight To Hawaii

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It’s not unusual for pilots to celebrate their retirement flights, often by bringing their family along for the special occasion. However, one retiring Delta captain celebrated his retirement in a way that I’ve never heard of before. I first wrote about this a few days ago, but wanted to share an update, as more details have emerged, and this was indeed as cool as we had assumed.

Delta captain charters A330, flies friends & family to Hawaii

A Delta Airbus A330-900neo captain named Keith Rosenkranz just operated his retirement flight, after working at the airline since 1991. He celebrated this accomplishment in a very special way — he didn’t just bring his family along as passengers on the flight, but instead he chartered the whole aircraft for a one night party in Hawaii.

Rosenkranz lives in Texas, and chartered the two-year-old A330-900neo with the registration code N411DX for this special trip. It’s probably not a coincidence that this was even an aircraft in the special “Team USA” livery. According to flight tracking software:

  • On Tuesday, February 27, 2024, the jet flew as flight number DL8871, first from Dallas (DFW) to Los Angeles (LAX) in a flight time of 3hr18min, and then from Los Angeles to Kona (KOA) in a flight time of 5hr20min
  • On Wednesday, February 28, 2024, the jet flew as flight number DL8872, first from Kona to Los Angeles in a flight time of 4hr45min, and then from Los Angeles to Dallas in a flight time of 2hr28min
DL8871 from Dallas to Los Angeles
DL8871 from Los Angeles to Kona

The aircraft landed in Kona at 2:28PM on Tuesday, and took off again at 9:02AM on Wednesday, so I’m sure it was an action packed afternoon in Hawaii! Below you can see the takeoff video from when the flight was departing Los Angeles on Tuesday.

What an unbelievably cool party!

This is just such an awesome story. We’ve now learned (thanks to @xJonNYC) that there were 112 guests on this flight, so with a capacity of 281 passengers, the plane was around 40% full.

The captain included friends from all aspects of his life on this journey, from school friends, to Air Force friends, to Delta friends, to neighbors, and many more. He also included several Delta pilots and their spouses who retired during the pandemic, but were unable to have their own retirement flight.

https://twitter.com/xJonNYC/status/1763708256747130999

I’m sure many people are curious about the cost of this adventure, which was no doubt in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s anyone’s guess what the total was for this. The aircraft flew for roughly 16 hours, not including the positioning to Dallas. Typically a medium sized private jet costs around $10,000 per hour to charter, so I expect a wide body commercial jet would cost significantly more than that.

Presumably Delta gave the captain as good of a deal as it could on this adventure, given the number of years he spent flying for the airline. Furthermore, since it’s winter, Delta no doubt has some spare wide body aircraft. Still, this definitely wasn’t cheap.

It’s my understanding that the captain did this as a gift, so he didn’t ask his friends and family to chip in for this special charter flight. And I suppose since he was captain of the flight, he was also getting paid for this, so at least he recouped some of the investment. 😉

Of course pilots are well paid professionals, but most of them aren’t dropping six figure amounts on their retirement party. I assume the captain has made some good investments over the years and also values peak experiences in life, and this reflects that. One thing is for sure — this is a party that the captain, his family, and his friends, will never forget.

Bottom line

A retiring Delta captain chartered an Airbus A330-900neo, and made his last flight a charter flight for friends and family to Hawaii. While a small celebration is normal for a retiring pilot, taking 112 people along on your private retirement flight is truly unheard of.

Congrats to Captain Rosenkranz on an amazing 30+ year career at Delta, and a heck of a party to kick off retirement!

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  1. Sasa Guest

    If his co - pilots family name was Guildenstern, that would be even more over the top ;-)

  2. Brian G. Gold

    I wonder if you could convince Delta to accept a SkyMiles credit card and place a wire transfer.

    1. Brian G. Gold

      I wouldn't be surprised if that was a big source of funds.

  3. Fordamist LeDearn Guest

    Retiring Delta pilots get a spray from Airport fire trucks when they land on their final flight (I've been on several, F/A told me, no big deal, the pilots have to pay for it); the pilots join the F/A in shaking hands with passengers as they depart.
    I'd guess the Captain also had good financial advisors, likely bought DL stock around its lowest, still had faith in Delta. Wise move!

  4. KB Guest

    I think Captain Rosenkranz was not only a pilot at but a very astute investor. He is well liked by his peers. Good for him. That’s an awesome way to retire!!!

  5. Eskimo Guest

    The captain is expecting to earn around 10M SkyMiles for this charter.

    Just barely enough for 5 round trip to Europe with his wife on DeltaOne after his retirement.

    1. Eddy Guest

      Good thing he'll get to keep his non rev flight benefits during retirement LOL

  6. AD Diamond

    I'm sure his guests thought it was cool...but I imagine most of his guests would have liked more than 24 hours in Hawaii. I wonder how many bailed on the return and stayed.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Sometimes I wonder how does @JonNYC even knows these stuff.

    2. W Gold

      He probably works for Delta. He may as a result have access to the internal system with the flight info, manifest, paperwork, etc.

      Or he might just be joking with the comment above, or another person (not the Twitter JonNYC user) might be using that name on the blog to comment as a joke.

  7. Santa Barbarian Guest

    tl;dr

    Delta pays its pilots too much.

    1. Michael Cahill Guest

      That is an absolutely incorrect statement. Pilots of a lot of responsibility and deserve to be highly compensated. On a dark and rainy night with high winds, wet runways and limited visibility and you are a passenger as yourself: are pilots really paid too much.

    2. David Diamond

      Another way to think about it is... Surgeons routinely have one or two (transplants or births) lives in their hands.

      Pilots routinely have more than 100 souls on their hands.

      Do you REALLY want pilots to be poorly paid?

  8. JonNYC Gold

    100 guests on this flight, nice!

  9. hartd8 Member

    DID he fly the plane or did friends volunteer?

  10. STEFFL Diamond

    The full Charter of an A330-200 back in 2017 used to sell for ~22.000,-/hour!
    Several Airlines were on the market then, for such flights.
    Finnair, airberlin, TAM, IBERIA, Virgin and also Halston had very decent rates.
    In the winter season, it's still very common to use such 100% charter flights for big Tour Operators in Europe for flights to Egypt, Middle East or Hajj Operations to Jeddah.
    So i guess, this...

    The full Charter of an A330-200 back in 2017 used to sell for ~22.000,-/hour!
    Several Airlines were on the market then, for such flights.
    Finnair, airberlin, TAM, IBERIA, Virgin and also Halston had very decent rates.
    In the winter season, it's still very common to use such 100% charter flights for big Tour Operators in Europe for flights to Egypt, Middle East or Hajj Operations to Jeddah.
    So i guess, this DL Charter might be at around US$30-32k/hour in 2024.
    That's quiet a big total if it's really just for 1 special group of people and such a long ground time. :-o

    1. zow Guest

      Thanks for the cost estimate. My math:
      $30k/hour * 24 hours = $720K.
      That's $7200/person for 100 people, or $3600/person for 200 people.
      It's expensive, but not outrageous, for a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience that this might be/have been.

    2. grichard Guest

      I have no firsthand knowledge of chartering large aircraft, but usually charter costs are per flight hour, with a certain minimum number of hours per day. So it's more likely $30k x (duration of flights).

    3. Fordamist LeDearn Guest

      and, if he intends to start selling real estate , this is great for name recognition!

    4. Ben G Guest

      ZOW: It's per hour of FLIGHT TIME. Time on the ground doesn't count.

    5. Matt Guest

      Would the cost be this high if he avoided pilot charges, if he and a buddy flew the plane for free?

  11. Roberto Guest

    It’s because Delta has more premium revenue.

  12. JJ Guest

    I was watching the livestream when they were talking about this!!
    Random note: that was DL 8872, but DL 8873 and 8874 tomorrow are nonstop Clark to Salt Lake flights!

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      the Mormon Tabernacle Choir chartered a couple ex-Latam A350s which flew from Salt Lake City to Manila and then onto Clark where they are returning from nonstop back to SLC - apparently the end of the week-long choir tour.
      and the flights to MNL were in the air for over 15 hours from SLC which could be well be the longest from SLC proof that the 350 is more than capable even from mountain...

      the Mormon Tabernacle Choir chartered a couple ex-Latam A350s which flew from Salt Lake City to Manila and then onto Clark where they are returning from nonstop back to SLC - apparently the end of the week-long choir tour.
      and the flights to MNL were in the air for over 15 hours from SLC which could be well be the longest from SLC proof that the 350 is more than capable even from mountain hubs.

      If the DL pilot also chartered the 339, perhaps DL runs some really good charter specials in the winter - or the pilot is happy to re-invest his years of earnings in his employer.

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Tim Dunn -- Did you reinvest your years of earnings with a special charter flight as well? :-)

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      you have been reading too much - or maybe not enough - of your readers' comments. Some say I was fired.

      I fly lots of airlines. I just happen to know which ones are well-run. and DL just happens to be in the "best-run" category.

      there is a difference - at least for me - for how I consume products and services and how I analyze industries.

      Others treat their employers - which happen...

      you have been reading too much - or maybe not enough - of your readers' comments. Some say I was fired.

      I fly lots of airlines. I just happen to know which ones are well-run. and DL just happens to be in the "best-run" category.

      there is a difference - at least for me - for how I consume products and services and how I analyze industries.

      Others treat their employers - which happen to be airlines - as part of their family. and saying anything negative about AA or UA, for example, is an afront to their grandmother.

    4. AnishReddi Gold

      I’m not gonna argue whether or not A350s are capable from mountain hubs. You are forgetting as charter flights they were likely carrying no or very little cargo. To make a fair comparison of the A350s capability on this flight to standard commercial operations cargo also has to be included, reducing the range of the aircraft.

    5. Tim Dunn Diamond

      I don't have any idea how many passengers or cargo were on the 2 flights but a choir of the caliber of the Mormon Tabernacle probably did have more than the average passenger's checked luggage per passenger.

      And the 2 planes had seats for almost 700 seats.

      And DL has reportedly told pilots that it will open an A350 pilot base in SLC

    6. Matt Guest

      My mother sang in the choir for many years, the logistics of moving their gear was amazing. Sure, it's a choir and not a football team but they've still got a lot to move. Though from what I understand these new choir trips aren't the full choir but a part of it. And spouses are welcome to pay to go along too.

    7. Tim Dunn Diamond

      yes, it is certain that other people went along. They were gone in the Philippines for almost a week so I doubt that they sang every night.

      I also would imagine they used close to the full payload that could be lifted from SLC or they wouldn't have used 2 aircraft.
      Given that those two ex-Latam A350s are early capability versions, it couldn't have been full of passengers and above average numbers of cargo/bags...

      yes, it is certain that other people went along. They were gone in the Philippines for almost a week so I doubt that they sang every night.

      I also would imagine they used close to the full payload that could be lifted from SLC or they wouldn't have used 2 aircraft.
      Given that those two ex-Latam A350s are early capability versions, it couldn't have been full of passengers and above average numbers of cargo/bags and made a trip that far from SLC.
      But if the economics suggested that it would have been more economical to make a fuel stop and crew change someplace - such as in Japan or Anchorage, I am sure Delta was asked to provide those costs to the LDS Church before signing a contract and it was worth flying nonstop. So, 2 A350s have a fairly decent payload even from SLC for a 15 hour flight for early capability models.

    8. Brian W Guest

      Delta stock is currently trading at the same level as Nov. 2014. Hopefully he put money in other investments.

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JonNYC Gold

3 less pax KOA-LAX than LAX-KOA

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Eskimo Guest

The captain is expecting to earn around 10M SkyMiles for this charter. Just barely enough for 5 round trip to Europe with his wife on DeltaOne after his retirement.

4
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Tim Dunn -- Did you reinvest your years of earnings with a special charter flight as well? :-)

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