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James Franco, Seth Rogen Among Fest-Goers Who Kick Off SXSW on Delta’s Festival Shuttle

Techies and industry-ites kicked off the SXSW fun before even touching down in Austin.

For the third year in a row, Delta’s festival shuttle flew nearly 200 fest-goers from LAX to Austin’s airport, as part of the airline’s growing effort to attract new flyers from various industries, especially plugged-in customers who regularly fly from buzzy event-to-event, like SXSW.

“The idea was to curate people going to these incredible festivals and get the right folks on the airplane to have a discussion about what they’re doing, in this case in technology, and really support L.A. tech and L.A. entertainment firms,” Delta Air Lines’ vice president of global sales, west, Ranjan Goswami, told Variety minutes before boarding the flight. “What we’re seeing is this convergence of tech and content companies coming together.”

James Franco and Seth Rogen were among the passengers on the flight, and though some of the actors on board were sitting up in first class, the entire plane was treated with amenities like priority check-in, a pre-flight brunch at Lemonade in Delta’s terminal and flowing tequila — after all, this is SXSW. Rogen, who flew with his king charles cavalier, Zelda, was in good spirits along with the rest of the high-energy passengers who treated the flight as a two-plus-hour networking event. Other notable passengers were actor Michael Vartan, comedian Brett Gelman who flew with his producing partner and wife, Janicza Bravo, plus execs from Snapchat, Hulu, Verizon’s Go90 and UTA.

Unlike normal flights, the festival shuttle was swarming with passengers crowding the aisles to schmooze and deal-make — of course, only when the seat-belt sign was off.

SXSW, which specializes in tech, music, film and TV, is one of four events included in Delta’s fest shuttle. The flight also heads to the Telluride Film Festival, Summit at Sea and Sundance, which was the first fest involved in the #DeltaFestivalShuttle. While Delta isn’t targeting an expansion for the festival shuttle at this time, according to Goswami, the airline is always open to exploring more destinations.

“What’s exciting is we now have an interest and if we were to target another festival shuttle to a new destination, I think we’d get the support from the community here in L.A.,” Goswami says. “What’s really neat is people want to be on these flights. We’ve got wait lists for them and it’s a really fun experience together.”

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