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Delta Air Lines is coming out swinging at discount carriers while undertaking its own major cost-cutting program.

The nation's No. 3 carrier takes aim at ValuJet Airlines and Southwest Airlines in two local campaigns themed "Real value" that are uncharacteristically hard-hitting for soft-spoken Delta.

In a radio effort running in its hometown of Atlanta, where ValuJet is also based, Delta pokes fun at an unnamed discount airline that doesn't have reserved seats or a frequent flier program.

A :60 depicts the boarding process on a low-fare carrier as one in which passengers fight for seats. At the end of the panic scene, a man says, "Listen here, lady, that seat's mine." She responds, "Not anymore, buster," as a loud bonk suggests she has swatted him with her handbag.

The announcer concludes: "Low fares and a civilized boarding process. Only on Delta Air Lines. Atlanta's real value."

A similar spot-also from BBDO Worldwide-is running in Salt Lake City, another Delta hub where Dallas-based Southwest is making inroads.

Both Southwest and ValuJet believe their own low fare positioning is sufficient response to Delta's attack.

"Delta is really responding to what we started last October," said Ponder Harrison, ValuJet VP-sales and marketing. "We have not deviated from our focused message that drives home our strengths of offering low fares, every day."

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