Delta Cancels Media Day At Last Minute, Afraid to Face the Press

After a family was kicked off a Delta flight with a flight attendant threatening to have their kids taken by Child Protective Services (when they refused to give up a seat they had paid for but that a different family member was sitting it).. And after Delta’s operational meltdown last month that was so bad they even lost a dead body (which came after multiple systemwide IT crashes).. And after blowing up the SkyMiles program.. it’s not surprising they don’t want to face questions from media.

Indeed, they’ve cancelled next week’s media day.

Delta Corporate Communications regrets to inform you that we have made the difficult decision to postpone our International Media Day until later this year. We are aware that this decision has been taken at the last minute when your travel plans have already been confirmed. We apologize for the inconvenience caused by this.

With the recent focus by Congress on airline customer service issues that have gone viral on social media, we decided that the timing is not right to showcase Delta’s product innovations and global strategy. We are reviewing our plans to reschedule the event and will keep you informed.

Travel plans made, other opportunities declined, sure it’s the very last minute but Delta prefers to run and hide from tough questions.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Well, they have to get some points for honesty. At least they didn’t claim they were doing it “for your convenience”.

  2. Gary. I think your disdain for Delta Sky Pesos and a general negative attitude towards the legacy carriers is really beginning to raise questions about objectivity and your falling prey to the social media madness we’re experiencing these days. Regarding it incident at OGG, correct me if I’m wrong but the contract of carriage clearly states that the passenger whose name is on the ticket is the passenger whose butt needs to be in that seat. And if you look closely at that video, that was not a flight attendant who was having the conversation with the jerk who got caught with his pants down trying to work the system. From the video, it seems to me that this might have been a law enforcement officer is you seek all the crap hanging from her belt. Just sayin’ … a fact check might be in order on this one.

  3. I hope Delta offered a change waiver on media flying to their media day. I wouldn’t think that being charged an exhorbitant fee because they changed the date would result in positive stories in the column inches they opened up by cancelling the day.

  4. Gary’s disdain towards legacy carriers is completely appropriate independent of how the national and social media are reporting these incidents.

  5. Yeah, right, keep defending delta until they show disdain towards you – if you travel often, it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.

    Then, and only then, like every trump deplorable/republican, your complaints will be totally justifiable – empathy gap at its best

  6. @DesertJoe_PS – Delta followed their contract of carriage. (So did United. Fortunately no one was hurt in the Delta incident.) A flight attendant threatening to have the government take away a family’s children is still deplorable.

  7. @Jeffrey Sax – no doubt some of the people flying to media day were doing so on free tickets provided by Delta. Many media organizations won’t take the comp but some will.

  8. For some reason, this feels like Trump not attending the Correspondents dinner.

  9. Gary – Keep up the good work. The legacy carriers need to have a bright light shining on them continuosly. Your readers can choose to read ypur blog or not.

  10. @DesertJoe A serious question: Is Gary expected to be objective? This blog is full of opinions, and there has never been a pretense about that. I don’t think Gary claims to be a true travel journalist but more like a travel op ed writer. If you come here for true travel news, this has never been that and to my knowledge has never claimed to be. It’s mostly opinion mixed with information and commentary, frequently in a provocative manner. I’m not sure Gary would put it that way but I don’t think he claims otherwise.

    I think for reviews of hotels and flights one wants honesty and opinions unvarnished by undue bias or favoritsm. But reviews aren’t really the thing here anyway. And like all credit card affiliates, Gary’s content choices are often dictated by profit matters. But he discloses that and everyone knows it anyway. Otherwise, he’s a commentator. And the commentary is frequently clearly designed to be subjective not objective. There’s no problem with that.

  11. Damn! What am I gonna do with that ton of rotten tomatoes and old shoes now?

  12. you should still show up and not leave until a pilot punches you in the face.

  13. @DesertJoe_PS,
    seriously; do you work or own part of one of the legacy carriers?

  14. “contract of carriage clearly states that the passenger whose name is on the ticket is the passenger whose butt needs to be in that seat”

    Perhaps it is technically worded this way but certainly not in practice. People change seats all the time, whether to simply sit by family members or get more space an an empty row. Airlines also often require people to switch seats for proper weight distribution. And what about people of size who purchase multiple seats for comfort even though they will not be using one? If we follow Delta’s logic, this would end essentially end that practice.

  15. @sa says – No I don’t work for, or own a single share of any. But, I’d love to see what would happen if all 3 legacy airlines decided to just cease operations for a full day, and then let the country determine how horrible -or valuable – they are to this country.

    As for the rest of the comments, I understand blogs and the purpose of them. I am a content marketer. They are op-ed. But when the op-ed’s are continually riddled with inaccuracies, they lose credibility. I still highly doubt that it was a flight attendant threatening Dad. That’s not their job. It’s the job of gate agents and security. Did we see any F/As in the United debacle?

    However, as a former F/A who knows how damn hard the job is – and is witnessing how much harder it’s becoming when every yahoo with an iPhone feels its their duty to show only a part of the story on video. Op-ed or not, I expect objectivity and accuracy. Otherwise, the blog has no value for me.

  16. Personally, if the 3 US legacy carriers went out of business I would happily fly the foreign carriers out of Miami and take the train to Fort Lauderdale to fly Southwest domestically. Last Southwest flight our FAs were singing Happy Birthday to one of our passengers and one FA even shared some homemade smoked ribs. On Southwest nobody was beat up, no children were tossed from the plane and no dead bodies went missing – can your legacy airline say that?

  17. Might be some prime advancement opportunities to be found in Delta PR before long.

  18. @DesertJoe_PS – you assert ‘riddled with inaccuracies’ but don’t name even a single one. The threat from the flight attendant could be heard IN THE VIDEO. But you can continue not to believe it because you’re “a former F/A” but then it’s YOUR “objectivity and accuracy” that are at issue..

  19. Every airline ticket/reservation HAS to be an exact match for a flying passenger’s name. You can’t just buy a seat for Tommy and later decide that instead you are going to give the seat to Billy.

    In this case dad financed a ticket for a seat under his teenage son’s name. In the video dad told the crew, his teenage son did not actually board the plane but instead took another flight. Teenage son did not pass the check-in, or the gate. At that moment teenage son was a “no-show” and he forfeited his seat for this flight. Yes dad financed a ticket for teenage son to have a seat, but that individual did not show up and it is not the responsibility of the airline to say “that’s okay, you can give that seat to whoever you like, even if they do not match the name on the reservation.” The ticket was not dad’s ticket it was teenage son’s ticket and teenage son was not there.

    You have a plane with every seat that is there sold, and a passenger that is solely assigned to a seat is a no-show (he took another flight ? yes) If you are a no-show for a seat (even a seat you, your dad, or whoever pays for it) the airline will not just fly with an empty seat just because the person who financed the seat is sitting nearby and says another individual, or family member, can use the seat that the no-show passenger was ticketed for. The airline has the right to accept that the no-show is not going to arrive and can release that ticket from the seat and assign that seat to any other passenger that is willing to pay for that seat. The dad chose to try to get away with a slight of hand. When he could have instead told the ground crew the full situation before boarding and asked to them to do him a favor and change the name on the teenage son’s seat to the infant’s name. That would have blocked it from being reassigned. They may have asked that he pay the appropriate amount for a seat in the name of the infant child but more likely they may have understood and made things happen. Instead dad assumed that because he got away with using the empty seat on a partially empty flight that now on an overbooked flight he should be able to keep open a seat for a no-show passenger, and then use this as an example why the airline should now deplane a passenger that paid for the seat that his no-show son could have been in.

    Should the airline have explained things differently? Sure. Should dad have informally and quietly explained to the ground crew the situation and asked them to make an exception in his case and leave the seat open for use by his infant child? Yes. Is this a example of poor customer service and a customer relations drama? Yes. But in fact, from what I see it is NOT illegal. It is not the fault of the airline as they had no obligation to keep the seat open.

    There is more than one side to this story and is it truly a crazy thought that the father DOES bare some, if not most of the responsibility here.

    Just a thought….

  20. @GaryLeff. For the record, I re-watched the video of the altercation again after your last post. The first person in the aisle is clearly a law enforcement officer given all the paraphernalia hanging from her belt. The second person seen in the edge of the video shakes “Dad’s” hand and introduces herself as Gina – a ground staff supervisor. That’s when things start to break down, and it’s also clear that “Dad” shares some of the blame for the escalation. So, there’s the facts – go watch it again to confirm for yourself. And, now you have your facts. And, having been an F/A does not bias me one bit; I know there are also bad eggs sitting jump seats. You’re reaction is deplorable. Now, I’m DONE with this … all of this.

  21. It’s a sound business decision for Delta to cancel its media day in the current feeding frenzy of “they’re so mean to passenger” stories. It would almost be like holding media day after a plane crash. You can spin it any way you want to, but saying they’re “afraid” sure isn’t fair and balanced.

    I haven’t bothered to watch the video of Delta incident but — given that you have both a mouthpiece and superior expertise of airline rules — you should strive to put that incident into perspective. The father was clearly not following well-established airline rules about passenger bookings (you are not allowed to fly a different person in a seat you’ve purchased), and you need to offer that knowledge to reporters who don’t understand this. Does this mean that Delta did everything right? No, it doesn’t. But it puts these incidents in context. You generally only get “mistreated” on a USA airline when you break their rules — rules that aren’t “crazy.” In every one of these “incidents,” there has been plenty of blame to go around, and there’s no reason to join the mob in the online lynching.

  22. Gary I have to agree that you are losing your objectivity when evaluating Delta Air Lines. You are mostly piling on and not offering much thought leadership in regard to the most recent Delta passenger debacle.

    Delta’s 20,000+ flight attendants serve approximately 500,000 passengers per day and you focus on one, admittedly despicable incident, and characterize the entire airline based on this single event. In case you did not know it, Delta was named to Fortune’s Top 50 Most Admired Companies, in addition to being named the most admired airline for the sixth time in seven years. Additionally, Delta has ranked No.1 in the Business Travel News Annual Airline survey for an unprecedented six consecutive years.
    I’m an Executive Platinum on American (butt in seat miles) and Diamond on Delta with some credit card MQMs. I’m gold on United based on my million miler status but have not flown them much since they merged with Continental. Although American is improving and I’m only one data point, they are no match for Delta’s consistency, hard and soft product and customer care.

    I’ve noticed that your tag line for View From the Wing is “Thought Leader in Travel”. Based on what I have been reading in your blog for the past six months you should consider changing it to “Thought Follower in Travel”.

    BTW I have been reading your posts for the past 1.5 years and this is my first response to one of your blogs. However it is going to have to count as two responses, my first and my last.

  23. Lol. Funny Phillip! But you know they weren’t reaccomodated onto AA – no IL with DL anymore. Maybe the media had to fly United.

  24. Seeing how flight attendants, who believe they are in the right, attend to their passengers is chilling. Seeing how airlines treat their passengers, when the airline thinks they can squeeze out a few more ducats from their “load factors” is shameful. Any company that treats their customers with such egregious disregard is in my opinion, not going to last long. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that a fully boarded flight is not the time or place to take you high self regard and authoritarianism out for a spin. Also deplaning passengers is probably not the solution you were looking for for an overboarding problem and failure of the airline staff. And finally, we’re all on camera, almost at all times now, so like we saw years ago, and again now, “can’t we all get along on airplanes?”

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