Delta Air Lines is taking an innovative approach with its partnership with the Los Angeles Lakers to further cement its status in L.A.
The Atlanta-based airline announced a multi-year extension of its partnership with the Lakers on October 30, highlighted by a new activation, the Showtime Seat Exchange.
“With Showtime Seat Exchange, Lakers fans can give back to the community and be rewarded for their generosity while also giving Angelenos who might not have many opportunities to attend a game an unforgettable experience,” said Bill Betz, Delta general manager of U.S. sponsorship and brand activation.
The Showtime Seat Exchange will allow season ticket holders to exchange their tickets to one of four games – November 15, December 22, January 31 and March 15 – for a domestic round-trip Delta flight voucher. The exchanged tickets are gifted to one of four local charities: After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles; Bob Hope USO; Junior Achievement of Southern California; and KIPP LA Public Schools.
The exchange is limited to 50 tickets. Those Delta vouchers are valid for a year and can be used on all Delta domestic flights to all 50 states, Betz said. The first game it was available, November 15 against the Sacramento Kings, spots in the Exchange were filled by the night of October 30, the same day the promotion was announced.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to engage more deeply with our brand partners, and it’s an even bigger bonus when we can find a way to do that that also ties in our community partners,” he said. “This is a first-of-its-kind program for both partners, and we decided this was the right number of games and tickets to launch this concept.
“We’re anticipating fans will be eagerly waiting for each of the next few times the Exchange opens.”
The partnership extension also includes solidifying Delta’s exclusive standing as the Lakers’ official airline – since 2011 – an increased presence on the team’s social and digital channels, customization of courtside seatbacks and a monthly Salute to Troops programming.
“For almost a decade, Delta has worked together with the team to create unique and innovative programs that give back, and this initiative is yet another example of their continued commitment to Lakers fans and the community,” Lakers President of Business Operations Tim Harris said.
Betz said from the airline’s perspective the past eight years of partnership has worked well “on and off the court, inside and outside the airport,” so continuing it made sense.
“We share a commitment to excellence and to building a better L.A. for the future,” Betz said.
While Los Angeles is a mature market when it comes to air traffic growth, there’s plenty of room for airlines to grab market share from each other. Because it’s such a large hub of activity – with five airports, including Los Angeles International Airport – airline expert Seth Kaplan said even small shifts can result mean big dollars.
“It’s a very competitive market,” Kaplan said. “If you live in Atlanta, you likely find yourself on Delta, same as Detroit or Minneapolis or Salt Lake City. Los Angeles, like New York City, is really up for grabs with no dominant airline.”
Citing Diio Schedule Data, Kaplan said Delta is No. 2 behind American Airlines at LAX, while both trail Southwest Airlines when looking at the entire Los Angeles market.
As Los Angeles is such a hub of airline activity, airlines are eager to make their presence felt in the city through sports. Recently, American Airlines signed on as a founding partner of the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District, with naming rights on American Airlines Plaza, outside the playing field at SoFi Stadium.
Delta, as it works on the $1.86 billion Delta Sky Way project modernizing and upgrading LAX Terminals 2 and 3, as well as connecting them to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, is looking to let the city know it’s equally committed.
Delta currently has 4,500 L.A.-based employees and has 170 peak-day departures from Los Angeles. Other Los Angeles area partners for the airline include Los Angeles Football Club, Los Angeles Kings and the Staples Center – the home of the Lakers and Kings.
Betz said Delta is the city’s fastest-growing carrier.
“Los Angeles is one of the largest and most important aviation markets in the world and a growing hub for Delta,” Betz said. “Over the years, we’ve developed strong relationships with local charitable partners, cultural institutions, sports and entertainment franchises, and marquee brands. As an incredibly important business market with a large base of Delta customers, Los Angeles will continue to be a key hub in our network.”