Delta Nails The Landing Music On One Flight, But Airlines Miss This Big Opportunity

There are certain sounds, sights, and flavors that evoke travel. It wasn’t originally intended this way, but George Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue means United Airlines.

For years Portico’s ‘white ginger’ smell meant Hyatt Regency, though I suppose Westin’s ‘white tea’ smell is more well-known. The flavor of Tortas Frontera sandwiches is the sine qua non of Chicago O’Hare airport for me.

One neglected area of branding – outside of United – is music. So kudos here are noteworthy, in this case for Delta’s landing music.

After US Airways management took over at American Airlines, and shortly after cutting back on inflight meals, American rolled out new boarding and arrival music and it was probably the best thing done by new executives at the airline.

I don’t know who they had on the team with their finger on the pulse of up and coming artists, but how strange is it that I was introduced to Sylvan Esso in 2014 by American Airlines?

Aircraft have the ability to play music that the flight attendants bring onboard themselves, too. A decade ago on the oneworld MegaDO we landed at LAX to the Commodores’ Brick House. One of the flight attendants might have put on some gangsta rap after that – but an American Airline exec shut that down pretty quickly and we returned to the American Airlines standard.

In general Middle East and Asia Pacific airlines have the best boarding music. American Airlines should return to its 2014-2015 era attention to the musical details. Congratulations to Delta for nailing it on one flight. Sadly it’s not a systemwide endeavor, and there was no boarding or arrival music on my Delta flight this past Friday.

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. Agreed, But, what for the love of all that is holy is that garbage music being played?!?

    Airlines doing music upon landing should go for something that relates to their brand. Not some crapola music.

  2. Actually Virgin america had great playlists for boarding and subsequently went to alaska. But it’s been hit or miss. Hawaii flights seem to get the music more (Hawaii themed of course).

  3. United’s music is great. I have ideas that other airlines can use but I’m not their consultant so it’s on them. Music and livery are cheap ways to build a little loyalty. Years ago, there was one livery that was really ugly and I thought of it every time I forced myself to fly on that airline. United’s tulip is great. Too bad Continental ditched it for a non-descript globe.

  4. I think these dudes are a bit light in their loafers if they find this music enjoyable and newsworthy

  5. What one person loves, is fingernails on a blackboard to another. I’ve actually been on a flight where they blasted something on boarding to the point I asked the FA if it could be turned down. It couldn’t and had to just grit my teeth thru it.

    If you NEED music, put in your earbuds.

  6. Dumb post. Most music in restaurants, airlines, hotels absolutely sucks. Re airlines, please fix the audio system so announcements by pilots are clearly understood…the transmission of those announcements, like most music these days, is pathetic.

  7. To praise AA for its landing music is truly pathetic. It is amongst the most harmonically inane, repetitive pieces of crap imaginable. When we sit a few feet from the gate with a 20 minute wait onboard, I want to rip someone’s head off.

  8. Legacy AA used to have the ability to play music on the 757 snd we could set the channel selector just right above the front jumpseat to play awesome pop/easy listening music current and Linda Rondhstat and the likes.
    The 757 is unfortunately retired from our fleet and so is a current upbeat vibe…We appreciate the on board boarding and taxi in music, but cant we at least make it from a real soundtrack?
    Even Eagle played our Silver Bird music , maybe still do..its true to our legacy AA brand.
    However now its playing some made up music designed by a 3rd grade music class..I guess AA is afraid of paying loyalties? God forbid
    We can do better. Much better
    On many levels..,especially our on cabin music.

  9. Pre-pandemic, Delta used to do music during boarding on nearly all of their flights. Though it was the same music on almost every flight, which could get old. That seemed to get the axe pretty quickly once the pandemic started, though. I assumed that was to cut licensing costs.

    I have heard some airlines play destination-themed music during boarding. I remember Korean Air playing California Dreaming during boarding for a flight to SFO, for example.

  10. Hmm, the best onboarding music I’ve ever heard was on Austrian. So soothing and relaxing that I was calm when I sat down

  11. Do not play music out loud, on the plane or in the lounge. As others have said, if you need to listen to music, use earphones. Airlines playing music through the speakers is only branding in that it makes them seem like a car repair yard.

    As for that Delta landing music, it would cause me to avoid future bookings with Delta!

  12. I absolutely hate the boarding and landing music. I think only a minority like it, and the rest of us do not deserve to be subjected to it. It only adds to the stress of flying for me. Give me peace and quiet please.

  13. Nowadays, United isn’t using Rhapsody In Blue like they used to under Munoz. during boarding, they play pop music from old icons like ABBA

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