Flight DL 80 left gate F6, on Saturday 3/25 at 6.06 pm as scheduled. Loaded with 218 passengers and a crew of 12, the 767-400 aircraft was ready for its 4,912 nautical miles towards Brussels. Surprisingly only a handful of its occupants was aware that this was the first flight resuming the non-stop service between Atlanta and Brussels! Following the horrors of the awful attacks on Zaventem Airport and the Maelbeek metro station on Tuesday March 22nd, 2016, Delta Airlines had decided to shutter its direct flights between the cities.
Was it the real reason? Probably not … Passengers had already noticed a decrease in the flight schedules and their Atlanta destined planes filled with overbooked JFK-bound travelers. Obviously the decision to terminate this service was not well received, not only by the big companies but also by our local community. Many stories abound of people missing their connection to Brussels in New York due to the short lay-over. Not to mention that traveling back with chocolate-loaded luggage and exhausted kids through immigration at JFK was not something anybody would relish.
So Saturday was a huge thing. Gate F6 was heavily decorated with Belgian flags and the passengers were greeted by Papa Smurf [Grand Schtroumpf] and Hefty Smurf [Schtroumpf Costaud], dancing on the rhythm of the saxophone tunes played by Vinnie dressed in Belgian colors. A few short but convivial speeches crowned the event: Consul General Mr. William De Baets welcomed the crowd with his good sense of humor, introducing Larin Hector, General Manager Atlanta Worldport from Delta. The mic was then handled to Mr. Pieter De Crem, Belgian Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Former Minister of Defence. They all made sure that everyone understood that the Smurfs, Adolph Sax and the distributed chocolate were Belgian made.
Mr. De Crem was the first on board followed by enthusiastic travelers who each received a goodie bag with a box of Neuhaus Classics and a miniature Smurf.
Delta flight schedules are updated every 3 months, based on many factors like projected bookings and types of available aircrafts. The daily non stop flight ATL-BRU takes off at 6.06 pm to reach Zaventem at 8.45 am … until further notice since Delta News indicates “the renewed Atlanta service will operate year-round with a daily service over the summer season.”
And a finale note: the movie “Smurfs, The Lost Village” is now in the theaters!