Forget the elevator pitch; Delta is offering its customers something more -- a mentoring program at 35,000 feet. The airline is offering its customers the opportunity to be seated next to a business leader during a three hour flight, via its new Innovation Class program, developed by Wieden + Kennedy New York. Delta will organize for selected business people to be placed next to an empty seat on certain flights throughout the year; other passengers can apply via LinkedIn to sit next to them. The first pairing, enroute to TED2014, seated James Patten, CEO of Patten Studio, next to technologist Eric Migicovsky, CEO of Pebble Technology, from Salt Lake City to Vancouver. The next is open on May 5, when one passenger will be allocated to sit next to Sean Brock, an Outstanding Chef finalist for The James Beard Awards in New York City.
The idea's reminiscent of the "Seatmates" effort from Dutch airline KLM, which allowed customers to choose their seating after perusing the Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, and was promoted via a contest that awarded passengers seats next to celebrities as well as a more recent effort from British Airways, "Ungrounded," which turns the flyer's planes into an "innovation lab" that brings together Silicon Valley talents to connect to solve big world problems.