By Kait Shea
A VR experience introduced attendees to the new Airbus A350.
It was a sendoff fit for the world’s greatest rock band. Four cities in four days. Vintage memorabilia. Weeping attendees at every stop. The rock star in question? Delta’s sole remaining Boeing 747, the aircraft that changed how the world travels. To celebrate the iconic jetliner before its retirement, Delta rolled out a four-day “All Hail the Queen” farewell tour from Dec. 17-20, activating hangar parties and in-flight experiences for employees and customers across Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta and Minneapolis. The plane’s final journey came shortly after United Airlines retired its last jumbo jet in November, making Air Force One the only operating Boeing 747 in the United States today.
For many, the farewell tour signified the end of an era. Often referred to as the “queen of the skies,” the 747 was the first jumbo jet and remains the world’s most widely recognized aircraft. Appreciating the emotion associated with the plane’s retirement, Delta set out to deliver the farewell tour of a lifetime nearly a year before it was executed (BI Worldwide handled).
“People at Delta Air Lines, people at other airlines, people who don’t even work at airlines who are just passionate about airplanes—they cried over this plane,” says Anthony Levo, manager-global employee engagement and events at Delta, and lead organizer of the tour. “There’s an emotion that you feel for this event and about this plane that’s so hard to explain. When we were building this event out, we wanted to make sure that all the people that felt so passionate about the plane had an opportunity to touch it, to sign it, kiss it. It’s hard to explain, but when you’re there to experience it, you get chills.”
Snagging a ticket to the tour events was no easy feat. Delta wanted to ensure that both employees and loyal customers had a chance to attend the experiences, meaning a competitive bidding process was the only way to secure a spot. While employees participated in an internal procedure, customers bid their Delta SkyMiles at an auction for a chance to say farewell to the aircraft—including one man who cashed in 950,000 SkyMiles to participate in the experience. A handful of bloggers and members of the media were also invited to extend the reach of the program.
“When United did their final flight, theirs was strictly customer-focused,” says Levo. “Our ceo and our leaders here wanted to make this not just about customers, but about employees. Our employees are our brand… We specifically designed this event so it could be a big celebration for all the employees that the plane had meant so much to, and also our customers.”
Hangar parties in Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta and Minneapolis let attendees get up-close-and-personal with the plane.
The tour launched in Detroit with the first hangar party of the campaign. Each hangar experience kicked off with a storytelling session featuring the station manager, along with a pilot, flight attendant and mechanic who …read more