Retired Delta 777 Converted Into Sports Team Plane

A retired Delta 777-200ER has found a new life after being picked up by a new owner recently. Delta’s 777s were retired back in October of 2020 due to low usage during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of them were less than 20 years of age at the time. Many considered these 777s too early to be decommissioned when the retirement was announced. One of the 777s, N867DA, has fortunately been repurposed after over a year in storage as a private jet for the Arizona Cardinals NFL team.

Why They Bought The 777

NFL teams travel frequently to attend games in other states. In fact, the Cardinals have travelled 109,277 miles within the last 5 years, and plan to fly a total of 22,186 this season. To commute to games across the United States, NFL teams usually charter flights from mainstream airlines. These charters can be expensive and take a massive toll on the team’s budget over time. As a result, it is cheaper and more convenient to fly with a private plane than to charter multiple flights over a season. By owning a private plane, the team can also avoid the logistics and process of chartering a flight. Using a private jet also comes with its disadvantages though. If the plane is not operational or if there are issues with the plane at one time, there is no replacement. Additionally, the Cardinals will have to find their own crew to operate the plane instead of it already being provided for in a charter. It is undisclosed how much the team paid for the 777.

Aviation photographs of Registration: N867DA : ABPic
Credit: ABPic

Interior of the 777

The Cardinals are keeping the same interior that delta had for the plane before it was retired. This means that there will be 28 Delta One seats, 48 Comfort Plus seats, 212 economy seats. The Delta One seats can be laid back completely and have panels that surround the seat for privacy. This will be much more comfortable and spacious for the members of the Arizona Cardinals, as some of their players are over 300 pounds in weight. While the interior of the plane hasn’t changed from its previous operator, the outside of the plane has gone through an entire makeover.

Delta Retiring 777s Just After $100M Upgrade To Add Suites In Business  Class And Mood Lighting
Credit: Forbes
Arizona Cardinals buy their own Boeing 777-200ER for team travel
Credit: Arizona Cardinals

What the Cardinals Used to Fly On

Before purchasing one of Delta’s 777s, the NFL team flew on chartered Atlas Air 747s, and before that, the team travelled with U.S Airways and American West Airlines before both of them ceased operations. The Cardinals had special liveries with these airlines that displayed their logo on the body of the plane. The Cardinals are now the second team in the NFL to own a private plane. The New England Patriots purchased 2 Boeing 767s back in 2017.

Atlas Air and DHL Express extend agreements for 20 freighters | World  Airline News
Credit: World Airline News

As of today, the Cardinals have already used the 777 a couple of times now to travel between games. The Cardinals’ rescue of this 777 from retirement is a great revival and story for the plane, and the team will be sure to put the 777 to use for the seasons to come.


  • AirTeamImages (Cover Photo)

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