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  • Writer's pictureShelly Albaum

Delta Passengers Are Invisible

Delta Airlines -- We Don't See You

Someone suggested that I should do something on my blog other than bitch about Elysium Health's business strategies, so today I am going to bitch about Delta Airlines' tone-deaf marketing.

We all know that airlines do everything in their power to leverage, mirror, and even amplify class differences in the America. So even if rich people live a hundred times better than your average citizen in the US on land, up in the air Delta makes it a thousand times better.

First class seat? You get plenty of room, cushy seats, free entertainment, free food, free alcohol, pillow, blanket, snacks, electricity, special restroom, and flight attendants always on alert.

Coach seat? Cramped, squeezed, starved, ignored. Just kidding, here's 4 oz. of soda and 1 oz. of peanuts.

The economics of air travel, combined with America's extraordinary wealth inequalities, means that airlines can make their fortune by abusing poor people and then extorting ransoms from rich people who would avoid the mistreatment -- at least extorting from rich people who can't afford a private jet, but still don't care how much their plane ticket costs.

This is disgusting, and shameful, and capitalism-at-its-worst, etc., profiteering by creating disutility, etc., etc.

I'm sure Delta would say, "The non-competitive oligopolistic market (i.e., the devil) makes us do it." No doubt.

What I don't get is why Delta's marketers are apparently unaware of the 90% of their customers who will never, ever, ever sit up front. There is no amount of advertising that will convince poor people to pay money for first class because they literally do not have that money, no matter how much longing Delta marketers can whip up.

Here are the prices from JFK to London this summer on Delta:

Very few of the people who can afford $698 per person can afford to pay 4.5x more than that to avoid the discomfort. On a 7-hour flight, that's more than $300/hour to avoid discomfort. Most people don't have those bucks.

Here's LAX to Rome -- the ratio is almost 10x:

Most people can't afford $1,000 to fly to Rome, but VERY few can afford to pay almost 10x that to avoid a half-day of discomfort.

So why does Delta show the following ads on every seat back in coach, on every wall of every jetway, and all over their website?

Almost no one I know will ever sleep on an airplane in a private suite with luxury bedding.

Delta's marketers are not doing this because they think they can whip up demand among the coach travelers. It's because the only people they care about are rich people. It's because their profits all come from rich people.

It's because if you're not rich, you are invisible to Delta. You are cattle. You are nameless, faceless chattels to stuff into the back just like the cargo is stuffed into the hold.

What? You desperately need to get across the country to see your children, have an annual vacation, or attend a wedding or funeral? Delta doesn't need to talk to you. They can just drop the price by $50 and watch desperate people scramble to fill their plane.

Delta is disgusting. Delta is degrading. Delta is insulting. At least to normal people.

Delta's advertising policy is the moral equivalent of the Dickensian scene in the musical Oliver! where the work house administrators parade their feast right under the noses of the starving orphans, then eat it while the orphans watch.

Delta is completely unconscious of 90% of their passengers. Those passengers are invisible.

My request to Delta is this: If your business model requires you to enforce capitalism's class hierarchy with an iron fist -- can you at least have the decency to whisper?

Can you allow the proletariat to board the plane without actively spitting on them?

Can your marketers, when speaking in the presence of America's untouchable caste, modestly dignify their customers' plight by reminding them that (unlike United and Southwest) Delta actually gets the passengers to their destinations on time, mostly, and Delta has taken some effort to not lose their baggage?

Don't worry about the rich people; they know what to do. And there is no need to goad the others.

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