You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Delta Starts SXSW in Style with Festival Shuttle for Industry Insiders

Delta has found a unique way to make the journey to SXSW as entertaining as the event itself, thanks to the airline’s exclusive festival shuttle from Los Angeles to Austin, which ferries industry insiders to the conference with first class service, free-flowing libations and plenty of Southern charm.

2016 marks Delta’s second trip to SXSW, and the fifth #DeltaFestivalShuttle to date, with previous sojourns providing transport to the Sundance Film Festival and Summit at Sea.

“The purpose of the flight was to make a curated experience for the folks on board that was nothing like what they’ve had at the festival,” explained Melissa Abbott, Delta’s manager of sales partnerships, west region. “We felt like getting them to the destination was part of the experience, and if we could create a memorable experience before they even got there, that made for a better trip.”

Delta partners with United Talent Agency on the flight, and this year’s guest list boasted venture capitalists, techies and entertainment luminaries including Keegan-Michael Key, who is bowing a work-in-progress preview of new film “Keanu” at SXSW on March 13.

According to Paul Lee Ruiz, Delta’s district sales manager, southwest region, the Festival Shuttle allows the airline to “engage with a certain type of customer that we’re really targeting, especially here in LA with all our recent growth – we’ve been adding flights to all of the tech centers, to media and entertainment centers, so it all dovetails really nicely with our strategy.”

And the shuttle service is apparently already a hit with Delta’s target demo, per Abbott: “People flew from San Francisco to Los Angeles just to get on this flight, which is great for us, because they had to fly Delta to do that,” she laughed.

In addition to a pre-flight brunch at the terminal’s Rock & Brews, which also served as a networking opportunity, the flight offered fest-goers complimentary Silver Medallion status for the year, free wifi, and a swag bag full of SXSW essentials like headphones, umbrellas, tequila and eco-friendly toothbrushes. The airline also gave away a number of first class, round-trip tickets to JFK, Shanghai, Australia and South America to randomly selected passengers during the flight, which certainly contributed to the ebullient energy on board.

Ruiz observed that the trip to SXSW is “just a really cool way to get to a certain segment of the traveling population; what they really crave is a unique experience.”

“It’s networking too, not only at the brunch but on the flight as well,” Abbott said. “One of our last flights, real business happened and a company was sold. It was a really fun experience.”


More Scene

  • Armie Hammer and Felicity Jones'On the

    Why Armie Hammer Cooked for the Cast of 'On the Basis of Sex'

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to her hometown on Sunday for the New York premiere of “On the Basis of Sex,” a biopic starring Felicity Jones tells the Supreme Court justice’s origin story. The 85-year-old Brooklynite received a standing ovation when she entered the Walter Reade Theater — a testament to the Notorious RBG’s rock-star status. Ginsburg [...]

  • Nicole KidmanWarner Bros. Pictures World Premiere

    How James Wan Convinced Nicole Kidman to Star in 'Aquaman'

    While some actors dream of playing a superhero, that wasn’t the case for the cast of “Aquaman.” “I knew nothing about this,” Amber Heard, who plays Mera in the James Wan-directed action film, told Variety at the movie’s Los Angeles premiere. “I knew nothing about comic books in general. I didn’t know anything about this [...]

  • Hugh Jackman'To Kill a Mockingbird' Broadway

    'To Kill a Mockingbird's' Starry Opening: Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and More

    The Shubert Theatre in New York City was filled on Thursday night with Oscar winners, media titans, and, of course, Broadway legends who came out for the opening of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The starry guest list included Oprah Winfrey, Barry Diller, “Les Misérables” co-stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, Magic [...]

  • Clint Eastwood and Alison Eastwood'The Mule'

    Clint Eastwood: Why Alison Eastwood Came Out of Acting Retirement for Her Dad

    Clint Eastwood’s daughter Alison Eastwood was done with acting after appearing in 2014’s “Finding Harmony.” Or so she thought. It was a Friday night and she and her husband were heading to dinner when her father’s producer Sam Moore called. “He [says], ‘You know, your dad wants you to do this film,” Alison recalls. “I [...]

  • John CenaSports Illustrated Sportsperson of the

    John Cena on WWE's Acceptance by Hollywood and the Professional Sports World

    John Cena says the WWE is finally getting the attention it deserves by Hollywood and the professional sports world. “I’m just glad that no longer are we looked down upon, not only by the sport industry, but by the performing arts industry,” Cena told Variety on Tuesday night in Beverly Hills at Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content