The Plot Thickens In The Gay Pride Dispute Between Alaska & Delta

Filed Under: Alaska, Delta

Earlier today I posted about how Delta signed a three year sponsorship deal for Seattle’s gay pride event, a move clearly intended to increase their likability in Seattle. It’s an area where they’re struggling, because they don’t really seem to get Seattleites.

However, per The Seattle Times’ reporting, this sponsorship may not have been as inclusive as you’d hope. It was reported that because Delta bought the category sponsorship for the event, Alaska wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the parade:

The event’s public relations spokesperson confirmed that Alaska Airlines couldn’t “promote” themselves, which was reported to mean that Alaska employees couldn’t march in the parade if they’re sporting the airline’s name or logo:

“We can’t have them promoting Alaska Airlines when Delta bought the category sponsorship,” said Colin Bishop, a public-relations spokesperson for the Seattle Pride Parade. “That would be free marketing. When T-Mobile’s in there, we don’t have groups marching from AT&T or Verizon.”


While I understand the world is getting progressively more commercialized (and have nothing against it), it’s infuriating when an event intended to celebrate inclusion starts to prevent some parties from participating. I understand the concept of a sponsorship and branding, but a parade as such should include support from as many community members as possible.

Well, as it turns out, this might not be quite as horrible as was initially reported. Per KIRO7 Seattle, a Delta spokesperson issued the following statement, suggesting that Alaska is still allowed to take part in the parade:

As a partner of Seattle Pride and Pride events around the world, Delta celebrates the inclusive spirit of Pride and all members of the LGBTQ community. While our sponsorship allows us to display Delta branding at the event, Delta has in no way restricted the participation or attire of any individual or group participating in Seattle Pride events. Each year, Delta people proudly walk alongside airlines and other companies in support of the LGBTQ community at Pride events around the country. True to the spirit of Pride and our belief in inclusivity, we welcome participation from all members of the community.


Furthermore, the leadership of the event issued the following statement:

The article posted in the Seattle Times seems to confuse sponsorship of the Parade with marching in the Parade.  While it is true that Seattle Pride offers many different sponsorship opportunities to our business partners, those sponsorship opportunities do not have, and have never had, any influence on the participation of any group, business, or individual in the Seattle Pride Parade.  Our Pride sponsors make it possible to host the Seattle Pride Parade – we celebrate and thank them with all gratitude because there would be no Seattle Pride Parade without their unwavering support.  The Parade sponsors also join Seattle Pride in our mission to offer the most inclusive, diverse, and Representative Pride Parade that we can.  In this regard, Seattle Pride has never and would never prevent a member of our community, like Globe (the the LGBT employee affinity group of Alaska Airlines), from marching in the Seattle Pride Parade.


Now you have to wonder if Alaska is the one with sour grapes? Keep in mind The Seattle Times quotes them as saying the following:

A spokesperson for Alaska, Bobbie Egan, said that when Alaska was a sponsor in the past it had arrangements for placement in the parade’s marketing materials. But it didn’t bar rival airlines from being in the parade.

In fact, in the past, employee groups from both Delta and Alaska have paraded in full company regalia, seemingly without incident.

“We decided that given these restrictions, we would celebrate that weekend in different ways, at different events,” Egan said.


Is Alaska choosing not to participate because Delta will be prominently featured, or was Alaska legitimately confused about what Delta’s sponsorship means?

Or could it be that Delta and Seattle Pride were quick on their feet and backtracked, because the quote from the event’s public relations spokesperson sure makes it sound like Alaska wouldn’t be allowed to march in the parade? Perhaps they changed their stance pretty quickly, much like Marriott did with 4PM check-out?

Interesting stuff…

Now if only Qatar Airways would be the category sponsor for Atlanta Pride… 😉

  1. Does anybody care about this “controversy” other than insofar as it can be (unfairly) used as a cudgel for gratuitous Delta-bashing on Boarding Area?

    Nope, no one?

    Exactly. How all you Delta haters can turn a story about Delta spending millions of dollars toward philanthropy into an anti-Delta rant is not especially far off from Bernie Bros claiming Hillary “unfairly” took more delegates than Bernie did in Nevada… a state whose primary she handily won.

    Just because Alaska feels slighted doesn’t make it Delta’s fault. Maybe Alaska should focus on charitable giving if they feel the sponsorship game is stacked against them.

  2. @ Nick — I’m sorry, but let’s be honest here. Sponsoring gay pride is hardly “philanthropy,” or at least isn’t charitable in nature. They’re not donating millions to feed starving children, but rather they’re making a strategic business decision with a return on investment. Don’t get me wrong, I believe many companies should be commended for the work they’ve done to further gay rights, but at this point I think an exclusive category sponsorship is a business decision and hardly philanthropy.

    And I’m not sure what we disagree on here? I have no problem with Delta sponsoring. I do have a problem with the suggesting that only one company in each category (whoever is welling to spend the most) can participate in the parade. And it seems Delta agrees with me that this is ridiculous, as does the organization.

    So where’s the problem?

  3. The entire reporting aspect of this story from the Seattle Times, to the blogs on Boarding Area have been very disappointing. While I expect bias, I am surprised by the misleading headlines (click baiting ) and the erroneous writing. Where’s the problem Lucky? How about this headline on your blog and on Twitter for starters: “Delta kicks Alaska Airlines Out of Seattle’s Gay Pride Event”. Now, is that even remotely close to what actually happened?

  4. @Gene What’s wrong with the gifs? I quite like them. I wouldnt mind if Lucky threw a couple into his reviews when it makes sense.

    Events like these have gotten way too corporate and issues like this begin to take the focus away from the intended purpose of the event. Certain events, such as these that promote a great cause/bring awareness to an issue shouldnt come with exclusivity marketing agreements. Chill out

  5. I strongly agree with @Nick.

    Though to reiterate a comment I made on the original post, I thoroughly condemn the commercialization of pride events. They’ve gone from being empowering, celebratory parades to miles-long marching billboards.

  6. I strongly DISAGREE with @Nick.

    The reason is he mindlessly regurgitates mainstreet media’s propaganda on the Nevada Democratic convention, that has nothing to do with what actually went down in Nevada, to back up some pointless rant. Save your breath!

  7. @Ben, fair enough, Seattle Pride isn’t exactly UNICEF, although as a nonprofit its donations fall under the umbrella of philanthropy. My problem, such as it is, is the breathless way that this was initially reported as somehow being another nefarious move by Delta to snuff out the competition. And I’m glad we’re on the same page that this has nothing to do with Delta, but then the question remains, what exactly makes this story newsworthy other than its tenuous connection to a “Delta hates competition” narrative? (See, e.g.: the Fox Theater story, which I suspect this was clearly meant to complement.)

    Again, when you title a post “Delta Kicks Alaska Airlines Out Of Seattle’s Gay Pride Event,” that isn’t borne out by facts, and isn’t just wholly retracted, that’s the problem, since you asked.

    But then again, I’m just a SkyTeam Shill. 😉

  8. NOBODY CARES LUCKY. Thought this was a travel forum/blog, not a GAY travel forum and blog. If it’s a gay travel blog, then own it and call it that. We hear enough about transgender BS and other ridiculous stuff these days in society.

  9. Stick to salient subject matter, e.g. airline, hotel, flight reviews, travel tips. The pride business is about narcissism and promotion of an ‘exclusive’ agenda that represents appx.3 or4 percent of the population.

  10. @me: This blog is whatever Lucky wants it to be, and while I’m so sorry that you’ve been oppressed because you’ve been forced to hear about transgender people — truly, you are a victim — might I suggest that you welcome yourself to the year 2016?

  11. @nick–I get it–the world has gone to hell. When trannys are ruling Target, there is a SERIOUS issue in the US. Sad state of affairs in the US right now. Like I said (you might want to learn how to read) if old lucky wants a gay travel forum (as witnessed by these posts) they call it out and be proud. It’s kinda sad to be honest, it use to be a great blog, now it’s a gay blog.

    @Mark – Spot on.

  12. @Paul, who cares about Gay rights?

    Perhaps you might consider holding Gay rights in esteem given the Gays are fighting for the same basic rights you take for granted.

  13. @me: Trannies are ruling Target! Wow, that explains all the glitter on Aisle 4. And what are they doing in this iron-fisted rule of theirs? Mandatory gender-reassignment operations? Customers forced to watch “I Am Cait” on loop?

  14. Let’s get real–most things nowadays have become commercialized (including this blog), and almost all news “reporting” has some sort of slant or bias–after all the media (and this blog) are trying to garner clicks and/or sell ad space. I’ve accepted that as reality and approach the news (and this blog) accordingly.

    Personally, I find these sorts of blog posts interesting and a spring board for me to dig more into stories that may interest me. And, of course, the comments are always a hoot to read.

  15. In answer to your question, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility to think Alaska read/heard the news and concluded the same thing everyone else did.

    Presuming the mutually coordinated statements from Delta and the pride organization hold true you can bet your life that Alaska will be represented in the parade.

    We’ll never know what the original intent of the sponsorship was, the clarifying remarks from Delta may only end up serving them well.

    Note I am the only person so far who has contributed a relevant comment on this topic.

  16. Delta cares! That’s who cares. The LGBT community is a high value demographic, especially in the left coast where Delta is attempting to make their fledgling CONUS-Asia hub in Seattle profitable. They’ve invested millions in marketing dollars and exclusivity agreements to try to cement their reputation as a part of the community. I just don’t think they understand Seattleites. I don’t understand Seattleites. The “Seattle Freeze”….that’s real. It takes Seattleites a LOOONNNG time to warm up to outsiders. So when Mike Madeiros goes on TV and attempts to hide his southern drawl, they know he’s an outsider. And it takes a lot more than money and sponsorships to win them over. Again Ron Judd:
    That’s what Madeiros and Delta are up against.

  17. C-Las….take your LGBT money elsewhere. Delta and other companies don’t care. There are PLNETY of other NON LGBT buyers out there and businesses will not bow down to your threats. Look what happened at Target. Put in silly Transgender bathrooms and watch ‘normal’ people disappear from your store.

  18. @me: if you’re going to spew such homophobic rhetoric, at least have the balls (or the boobs) to not feel the need to hind behind such an anonymous moniker as “me”.

    Better yet, just go elsewhere.

  19. That’s where you’re wrong, “me”…they’re a corporation with profit motive. They want EVERY revenue stream available. I guess you forgot this is the United States of America, a capitalist country with private corporations. I guess they don’t teach that in Greenville Mississippi where “normal” inbred people like you live. BTW, Delta does care, as is apparent by their sponsoring about 10 of these events and spending over 30 million in advertising dollars. Nah, they don’t care. BTW what does transgender bathrooms have to do with anything?

  20. @me

    You have no clue about American economy. LGBT community has the highest disposable discretionary spending potential. Every industry is trying to capture that market.

    Having said that, this is a non issue. If AS employees want to participate they can always do so by wearing pride attire. If Apple is sponsoring SF Pride event, would it allow Google employees to advertise, No.

    Same reason if one channel has Super Bowl broadcast rights, other channels respect that during the event. They won’t tap into licensed feed.

    Everyone thought RA was the problem, looking like he was the one holding back at DL.

  21. C-las

    Sad state of affairs where this world has gone–you are prime example.

    For the rest of you LGBT fans, businesses really could careless. You might think you are important, but in reality most could careless. Care about your $$–maybe, care about you, hardly.

    What a terrible blog this place has become. Instead of travel reviews, it’s become a gayfest. Sad.

  22. @me: I think you meant to say “**couldn’t** care less”.

    Stupid as well as ignorant and bigoted.

  23. No Toddy, it’s called being honest. Not worried about caressing your feelings. Get some balls and express an opinion.

    This blog has officially gone into the garbage.

    And yes, I COULDN’T care less about your thoughts.

  24. Looks like “me” is the new Frank.

    We should boycott his/her comments. 😉

    We’re just wasting breath engaging him (or her).

  25. LOL. The number of people that just come to the blog to complain about the blog amazes me… Most likely Bernie Sanders supporters.

  26. Back on topic, I think the Delta/Seattle Pride PR machines back-peddled big time. This wouldn’t have been a positive start to a 3 year sponsorship deal for either organization if participation was stifled. A quick clarification by both parties has saved any negative fallout. Although the original statement seemed clear to me. They probably started receiving negative feedback and rushed to pacify the LGBT community. The Seattle community in general would have taken a dim view of Delta had they excluded others participation. Just my opinion. I’m a Delta elite but any corporation has a right to determine the terms of their sponsorship deal. In this case I think it would have backfired on them.

  27. Enough with gay pride BS. Gay marriage is legal. Now they dont need to march or do drama. At this point I think straights are being discriminated against until we get a straight pride parade.


    “In light of the recent press I would like to clear the air and state I misinterpreted
    the contractual obligations set in place for Delta Airlines and I wish to retract my
    statements made to the Alaska Airline Corporation with regards to participation in
    the 2016 Seattle Pride Parade.
    It was not my intention to exclude any groups or individuals, regardless of their
    company loyalties, employer, and group associations.
    While our sponsors allow us to produce a quality Pride Parade each year, I
    misunderstood the terms of one of these sponsorships and misrepresented that
    contract. I apologize for my miscommunication and any hurt feelings I caused.
    As always, Seattle Pride stands for inclusiveness and the celebration of all the
    diversity within our community. As the representatives of the Seattle Pride Board
    have stated, it is our goal for all members of our community to participate in the
    Pride Parade, and we will continue to work toward that goal.
    I sincerely hope GLOBE and Alaska Airlines will accept our invitation to proudly
    march in the parade, wearing whatever they wish, just as they have always done in
    the past.”
    ~ Eric Bennett, President, Seattle Pride

  29. Nick is friggin delusional… this was a tone deaf, dumb as nails move by both DL and Seattle Pride organizers.

    Despite what some people think, Pride isn’t just about raising the most money (which, btw, is 90% gone by the time the causes they’re supposedly supporting show up). This is about celebrating your community… including a hometown company that has WAAAAAY more history supporting Seattle Pride than Johnny come lately.

    We welcome Delta’s interest. But good god is it amateur hour in their publicity department.


    “Seattle Pride began the day saying my column was wrong and that the parade had never set any restrictions on the Alaska group due to the Delta deal. But when presented with emails showing Pride did just that — that the deal with Delta prevented Alaska workers from wearing so much as an Eskimo logo — the nonprofit apologized.

    “I wish to retract my statements made to the Alaska Airline Corporation with regards to participation in the 2016 Seattle Pride Parade,” Bennett wrote. “It was not my intention to exclude any groups or individuals, regardless of their company loyalties, employer, and group associations.”

    Delta also said in a statement that it doesn’t mind if Alaska’s employees march, wearing as much Alaska swag as they want.”

  31. “I have no problem with Delta sponsoring. I do have a problem with the suggesting that only one company in each category (whoever is welling to spend the most) can participate in the parade.”

    Except, blame was placed on the wrong entity. You posted a (click-baitish) headline saying Delta kicked out Alaska from participating, when it was the Gay Pride group that set things up. And I’m sure if Alaska had outbid Delta for sole sponsorship, they would have done the same.

    I think the issue for some people is that you seemed to place the blame on Delta, when it wasn’t really their fault. They didn’t make the rules, unless there was some clandestine meeting their PR people had with the Seattle Pride people where Delta suggested they be the sole sponsors or whatever.

    And if you’re going to be lobbing blame at Delta for the situation, then maybe T-Mobile should be getting blasted as well, for excluding their rivals as well? Granted, they’re not an airline, but still.

  32. @eponymous coward

    Than you for the clarifying posts/quotes; on topic and very helpful.

  33. I am not sure if I feel comfortable a self-identified transformer using the bathroom on my plane. Maybe ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is appropriate in these situations?

  34. I wish upon all you transphobic commenters a child who challenges your ideas of gender norms — be it homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender identity — but that would assume the impossible, i.e., that someone would want to reproduce with you and that you weren’t a 40-year-old troll living in his mother’s basement.

  35. @Nick

    Well your parents somehow got together and had you, so anything is possible, ammirite?

    Also, girl, the whole “living in your mother’s basement” zinger is sooooo 2012.

  36. I got really excited for a second thinking this was about a gay pride dispute between Alaska Thunderfuck and Delta Work.

  37. So what does all this have to do with travel. Major corporations like Delta want to pay money to attract target segments of the public but they would also like to hide it from main stream customers just as fast. They can attract the gay community but risk alienating many other blocks of customers. In a way this blog is a microclimate or reflection of that model. Every time I read it and find gay related subject matter it makes me less of a fan. It’s not personal but just an insult to my morals. I feel the same way about Delta. I know I’ll get bashed on here as an example of one-way “diversity”. But I can’t hide my moral compass. I’ve been to gay pride parades in Chicago and New Orleans. Everyone should go and take your children so you can fully appreciate this movement.

  38. @Julia and to Nick as well.
    So I guess Nick was referencing to his parents when he made this comment? That’s funny.

    “Nick says:
    May 19, 2016 at 3:23 am
    I wish upon all you transphobic commenters a child who challenges your ideas of gender norms — be it homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender identity — but that would assume the impossible, i.e., that someone would want to reproduce with you and that you weren’t a 40-year-old troll living in his mother’s basement.”

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