In a precautionary move, a Delta Air Lines flight turned back over the Atlantic and returned to New York JFK after pilots detected a fuel imbalance. The plane was not out of fuel. No one was in any danger. But that didn’t stop a popular vlogger from creating a sensational headline that went viral. Here, though it is not a trivial matter under the spotlight but a serious one that implicates issues of safety and manifestly misleads the public.
Misleading Narrative Over Delta Fuel Imbalance Diversion Has Serious Consequences
The Boeing 767-300 was traveling from New York (JFK) to Accra (ACC) and had already been delayed a day when one of the pilots got sick and then again the next day due to bad weather. Two hours into the flight, the pilots discovered the fuel imbalance and as a precautionary move, chose to return to New York.
Arieh Smith operates a popular YouTube channel and created a video in which he criticized the pilots for not being clear about the nature of the problem and leaving him in a frightful panic that he was going to die. The man shares messages he sent to his wife in which he says goodbye and even turns on the waterworks in a video recorded in the aircraft lavatory.
Cry me a river…
Let me pull back the curtain here on the world of blogging. A situation like this is the delight of every blogger whose revenue is driven by eyeballs. Minor incidents tweaked into life-changing events are the juice that powers many blogs and YouTube channels.
When thinking about this story, I had to stop and think if this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Am I just as guilty? After all, I’m no stranger to clickbait. But my tabloid-style fodder is pretty harmless…I get a kick out of people that get so worked up over a woman prancing down the aisle or a man who can hold his liquids well. Clickbait? Sure. Consquential? Not really.
But when the clickbait gets to the safety and integrity of an airline, a whole new line is crossed, which is the reason this particular story (and many YouTubers in general) just rub me the wrong way. I could generate millions of clicks by alleging my flight almost crashed, but in doing so would destroy my credibility. It’s a dangerous game.
Part of me salutes the business model because it really does work, but part of me just recoils at the irresponsibleness of claiming, “My plane ran out of fuel over the Atlantic Ocean.”
Delta certainly doesn’t need Live and Let’s Fly to defend it, but I cannot help but to do so here. No sir, your plane did not run out of fuel over the Atlantic Ocean. You were not in danger no matter how you try to describe the communication coming from the flight deck.
Delta offered the following statement on the flight:
DL9923 was returned to JFK out of an abundance of caution due to a fuel imbalance in-flight. An emergency was declared on arrival at JFK to obtain priority handling from air traffic control.
Modern aircraft have come a long way over the decades and engineers have carefully planned for precisely this circumstance. Pilot can isolate fuel leaks and continue to fly the plane…here, pilots just noticed an imbalance and it is not even clear if there was a leak in one of the tanks.
I want to be careful in not wholly discounting the gamut of emotions that must have run through Smith’s mind as this incident unfolded. But the way in which the video is titled and described (“The scariest day of my life. Thanks to the captain for saving all our lives”) does cause me to question the authenticity of his anxiety.
Kudos to Smith for his growing audience on YouTube and his remarkable ability to connect with so many, as he has done in the video above. But even as a strong defender of clickbait, it seems to me that certain issues cross a line and it is highly irresponsible, misleading, and therefore unethical to describe the situation the way in which he did, especially after clarifying the matter with the captain when the flight landed at JFK.
What is your take on the issue? Doesn’t the idea of claiming his aircraft ran out of fuel rub you the wrong way?
image: Xiaomanyc / YouTube
Hhow do you send a text message over the Atlantic?
Oh the irony! A clickbait headline to disparage clickbait headline! LOL! Thanks for giving me a good chuckle! But, to be sure, a well written article and one in which I agree with your sentiment.
Welcome to 2022 and pseudo celebrities thinking they are important. But I blame us for following them, not them for providing something some seem to desire.
Never, ever underestimate the stupidity of the general public. We have people who pay to watch people play slot machines and video games. We have people who buy these people stuff of their Amazon wishlists.
Strange days indeed.
I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with one of your comments, but here we are. Couldn’t agree more, and I’m a millennial. I however don’t follow fake celebrities on TikTok or YouTube.
Tooks like the vlogger is also scared of a gym.
yeah he looks fat
Let’s not get personal about his looks – no need to do that. Attack the idea, not the person.
I think in this particular case his appearance is relevant. He looks as weak physically as he has shown he is weak constitutionally. Who he is in total, is part of his “influencer” persona, not just the words he uses.
That guy has a higher probability of dying from some of the foods he samples than he does flying on a scheduled commercial airline flight.
The flight in question also had some Ghanaian politicians on board and has become a major story in Ghana beyond just this influencer video. The question being asked is whether Delta is intentionally reducing the amount of fuel being carried on flights to Ghana out of racism against Africans or whether there is an inherent safety issue with the old Boeing 767s that Delta flies on the route. A bit of a “when did you stop beating your wife” kinda question!
Wow, that’s crazy. I saw one of those headlines and just shook my head.
I read that as well and was in complete disbelief. It is amazing how little people know about aviation, and ETOPS regulations which this flight would fall under. I’m still confused as to how racism came into the conversation in that article seeing Delta flies 767s to countries all over the world, including launching service to Tahiti later this year.
Delta has been in such mess in the past and it related to the treatment of their customers in Ghana. It came not to be isolated issues with Ghanaian customers, and employees. Hence the racism inference.
Yes! We insist on the same amazing service Delta gives to it’s US customers! Wait, let me rephrase that …
“Influencer” is just a 2022 term meaning unemployed millennial hoping to get rich by doing the least amount of work
I would argue its not Millenials now but the Gen Z’s who are trying to be in that influencer lifestyle
He is not an influencer. He learns a new language in about 2 weeks and talks to those that speak the language.
He does have a fear of flying which didn’t help/
reply went to the wrong spot.
Smith is not an influencer, he can learn a new language in a couple of weeks, then talks to people who speak the language recording their reaction.
Yep, clickbait is getting out of hand on Youtube. Not just flights, but cars, trains, even kitchen blenders.
Got to sort the wheat from the chaff; and the responsible from the numb nuts.
A “social influencer”
What a waste of space
What is it with these self obsessed fame hungry talentless freeloading numpties……..??
What is it with these gormless media obsessed sheep who hang in their every word??
Amen! The time I start listening to and being influenced by such people is the time to put me in a straitjacket!
Knew there was an strong odor of bullshit when you mentioned influencer/vlogger. Nuff said.
I’m a big fan of Xiaomanyc, and I’m surprised he’s being disparaged so hard here. He’s not a “small time influencer,” he’s a polyglot who can more or less become conversational in a new language in a matter of days. He’s spoken Navajo on the reservation in Arizona, appeared on Norwegian television, and baffled immigrant groups in the USA by approaching them and speaking Amharic, Tamil, Twi, Yoruba, you name it. He also speaks Mandarin with native proficiency, and can communicate in numerous Chinese languages.
The guy is amazing, and while we can debate whether or not we agree with how he may have felt on that flight, he isn’t a small time influencer. He’s a savant that can literally bridge cultures.
Spot on He is a savant and a good natured one at that. It’s not what a bunch of frustrated frequent flyers think, but what the people sitting on that plane perceived. If the world was filled with Xiaomanycs it would be better than the frequent failures quick to criticize others even when they know nothing.
What would be even more amazing if he put his amazing talents to a purpose greater than a sideshow act. Besides being an amazing translator the UN, US Government, or multinational NGOs would be lucky to have, I imagine he would have numerous other linguistic abilities I can’t even imagine. I saw a couple of similar videos (I don’t know if it was him or someone else) but after watching two it was less interesting.
I am willing to chalk this up to a bit of overreaction. This guy has 5 million youtube followers and has over 100 videos that have a million to tens of millions of views on each. The plane ran out of fuel video has less than a million views. He doesn’t need clicks/views, he’s just a whiner.
Xiaomanyc js aware of your outrageous allegations and asked me to share this ancient Chinese proverb with Matthew: “Man who place head in sand will get kicked in ass”
If this was 30 years ago, the pilots would have kept on going doing a fuel transfer to the other tank, and if there was a fuel leak, they wouldn’t have made it and drained all their fuel, the Air Transat flight 236 reset ASB standards and this is now a safety precaution that worked and nobody died. He should quit his bitching. What an idiot.
Apparently he influenced you, to respond.
He did. He seems to be a good guy and merits a response with an audience that large.
Didn’t fly close to the ‘Bermuda triangle?’ LOL.
Even worse form by “news” sites taking the headline and running with it. Eg. yahoo.com
Arich Smith. You Tube Snowflake w/5M followers? That tells me everything I need to know about Social Media and the massive following of Rube Sheeples that flock to it. After all, if it’s on the Interwebz, it HAS to be true.
This guy is a drama queen! He has been in countless articles saying how he was sobbing and trembling in fear. Go into the light already!
…and the Oscar goes to