Rebooking from Goose Bay: AF66 recovery efforts

Yesterday afternoon Air France flight AF66, an A380 en route from Paris to Los Angeles, lost an engine over Greenland. The plane diverted to Goose Bay, Canada (YYR) where a new set of challenges loomed. Getting the plane fixed is one thing, of course, but for the 400+ passengers on board AF66 getting out of Goose Bay is the name of the game. And it happened in a most interesting way, also affecting other passengers in Canada and bringing JV partner Delta Air Lines into the mix.

Air France ultimately used two aircraft to get passengers out of Goose Bay. The first was a Nolinor 737-300 brought in as a charter flight. It carried one set of passengers to Winnipeg for a technical stop (the 733 doesn’t have the range and the crew likely needed a swap) before continuing on to Los Angeles. The second plane involved was an Air France 777-300ER that was in Montreal, scheduled to fly to Paris as AF349 on Saturday night. That flight was canceled (meaning a few hundred passengers needed to be rebooked) and the aircraft ferried to Goose Bay.

The 777 arrived around 3 in the morning and passengers were moved over to it from the A380. It finally departed Goose Bay around 7am but did not go to Los Angeles to deliver its passengers. Instead the plane flew to Atlanta (AF4080). The diverted passengers cleared immigration and customs in Atlanta and then mostly set off on a Delta 777-200LR (DL9860) specially chartered to get them through the final leg to LA.

That last bit, the extra flight and connecting in Atlanta, is particularly interesting. I can only speculate as to the reasons, but I have a couple ideas.

  1. Not everyone was going to Los Angeles. Most were, of course, but the Atlanta connection lets anyone not headed to LA connect on a different flight and probably get to their intended destination more quickly.
  2. Getting the crew and the 777 back into rotation reasonably quickly is something Air France has to deal with so as to minimize future flight delays and cancelations. As it is the company is without one of its ten A380s for the foreseeable future while Airbus and Engine Alliance engineers work to get a replacement engine transported to Goose Bay and installed on the aircraft while carrying out all the other necessary inspections to make sure the aircraft is fit to fly. Depending on the typical crew staffing (how many pilots are typically scheduled to work the trip) it is possible that they could still get it back to either Montreal or Paris today rather than leaving it out of position another full day. Taking the plane to Los Angeles would’ve almost certainly required such. Of course, the longer ground time in Goose Bay doesn’t help that plan much.

My understanding is that there is a bit of chaos in Atlanta with the transfer there but that passengers are mostly being handled. Evacuating 500 people from a remote strip in Canada is not easy. Air France did not do a perfect job (e.g. no food vouchers in ATL from what I hear) but, weighing all the needs and options, I’d say getting a pair of 777s into position that quickly and moving passengers along is pretty impressive.

Also, this idiot:


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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. “that idiot” was asking a serious question that every person reading this did not know the answer to at some point in their lives. Kind of lame of you to belittle him for trying to learn something…

    1. True…we all learned that at some point. Most of us well before becoming a “Stock and Commodity Trader and Educator, Wealth Attraction Expert, Mindset Coach, Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Christian” (by his own words). I have no problem calling that out. The fact that his few tweets suggest a general intolerance of science as fact doesn’t hurt my position.

    2. I’d expect my 12 year old to ask that question and I’d also expect my 16 year old to wonder why it flew that way and to look for more info. This guy should have fallen into the 16 year old category…

  2. You missed the fact that the first “rescue” flight shipped off just first and business passengers. Much to the chagrin of elites in coach.

    1. Didn’t miss it so much as not really sweat it. Would you pick elites in Y over paid F/J pax in that case?

      I’d go with limited mobility/health risks followed by fare class booked. The cutoff line has to come somewhere.

    1. I’d start here:

      I also wouldn’t be too surprised if they try to claim that compensation is not required and that only right-to-care is based on it being an extraordinary circumstance. The “Sturgeon” case says that MX events are generally not covered as such but it I’m not clear if that means stuff handled on the ground or if an engine actually failing and falling apart in flight is considered sufficiently extraordinary.

      Given the relatively long window for claims to be made and honored I wouldn’t worry too much about filing immediately. Might be worth waiting a couple days to see what AF comes up with on its own.

    2. FYI…apparently AF is reaching out to affected passengers and offering a voucher in excess of EU requirements that maybe can also be refunded into cash. Definitely read the fine print and be aware any other legal rights you have before clicking anything. Again, no rush. But things are starting to move.

      1. Yes, that is correct, we got an email, written in French and English from the President of AF, letting us know a representative will be calling us in a few days to tell us more information.

  3. Great summary. Thanks for posting! Lol at the idiot. This is why I like reading blogs for my AV news you get a little personal flavor that the boring AP wouldn’t give you.

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