The later passenger was going home from a neighborhood bar. It came up that he was going to work tomorrow. I offered a guess at his profession, but was not correct - he was an airplane mechanic for Delta.
"Really? Let me tell you about this other passenger..."
A few months earlier I'd pulled up to a condo in a gated community. A woman came out of the house and said to take her to the airport. Then she said that this was her second trip to the airport in a cab that day, and that she hoped that she'd get on a plane to Hawaii that evening, as she only had 9 days to spend with her family there.
She'd gotten on that day's first Hawaiian Airlines plane to the Islands... But the pilots found something in their preflight checks. Hawaiian Air has a maintenance contract with Delta, and the mechanics came over. After a while they all got off the plane to wait in the terminal. The passengers were told that the part their plane needed was in Los Angeles, and to just wait.
My airplane-mechanic-passenger sighed and said, "yeah, THAT plane..."
Later in the conversation he said that Delta has the oldest fleet in the country, but that they take really good care of their planes. Furthermore, Delta is the ONLY airline that he personally will fly, because he trusts his company's diligence about properly maintaining their planes.
The Hawaiian airlines plane had a hydraulic valve "blow up". They didn't have the part in Phoenix, and had to wait for it to be flown in from Los Angeles.
To paraphrase what the passenger said: "Don't get me wrong, the plane is safe and all that, but THAT PLANE doesn't owe anything to anyone. It's had plenty of flights, and has made plenty of money for its owners."
I said something about how the cab company takes really good care of their taxis, but he said there's no comparison with airplane maintenance. If a car breaks you don't really care, whereas airplane parts always have to be within their specifications...
Plane Skids Off Runway at LaGuardia Airport, Crashes Into Fence
REPORT: The Delta plane that skidded off a LaGuardia runway may have had brake problems
Update 4-28-2019 - Just read Exploring Delta Air Lines Tech-Ops in Atlanta, which reminded me of this blog post:
You hear a lot of complaints from folks about companies outsourcing. In fact, its known within the airline community that many airlines not do their own maintenance. Delta Air Lines works just the opposite. Not only do they not outsource their maintenance, but they also in-source work from other companies from around the globe.