Delta Apologizes For Bizarre In Flight Dating Initiative

Filed Under: Delta

Last month Delta started supplying new Diet Coke branded napkins for passengers in flight.

Nothing unusual about that, but what did raise eyebrows was the unusual instructions on and purpose for these napkins (beyond their normal use).

They encouraged passengers to write their phone number on a designated space on the napkin and then provide it to any other passengers on their flight they were interested in dating.

While meeting someone on a plane might have an element of old school romance to it, in the current climate of #MeToo it does feel inappropriate for an airline, or their beverage provider, to be encouraging people to approach a complete stranger in an enclosed space with their phone number.

It would be super awkward if this happened during the flight, and the other person wasn’t interested, but then had to sit near the first person for the remainder of the flight.

Social media about the promotion from surprised passengers who received these napkins with their beverages was mostly negative.

Delta, realising their mistake, has now removed these napkins, telling INSIDER:

We rotate Coke products regularly as part of our brand partnership, but missed the mark with this one. We are sorry for that and began removing the napkins from our aircraft in January.

We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended. We worked with our partners at Delta to begin removing the napkins last month and are replacing them with other designs.

Bottom line

Their intention surely came from a good place but it’s amazing that in 2019 any major company, especially two giants like Delta and Coca Cola would think that this would be a good idea.

Do you think this is just some harmless fun, or is it inappropriate in this day and age?

  1. I think those people overreacted.
    Why can’t we just laugh about it and forget what was written on a napkin???

  2. You’d think with how many in-flight harassment and sexual assault incidents have been in the news lately, Delta and Coca-Cola would probably assume encouraging passengers to flirt with their seat mates is not the best idea.

  3. Totally agree with @Tom. I chuckled the first time I was served a beverage with one of these napkins on my DL flight, but didn’t see it as a license to creep on a fellow passenger as many are suggesting.

    Nothing in the text of the napkin is inherently geared towards an in-flight pick-up, unless that’s where your mind automatically goes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen or been part of a business card exchange at the end of a flight for purely networking reasons.

    It’s a shame that we’re creating a culture where people are actively looking for opportunities to be offended.

  4. I wouldn’t call it inappropriate. I get what they were going for but I agree it shouldn’t be communicated the way it was. I guess their comment of ‘missing the mark’ is accurate.

  5. Odd, I would have thought that OMAAT readers would support Delta’s retraction of the napkin campaign. After all, OMAAT readers get upset just by seeing a fellow passenger from the confines of their biz class seat.

  6. Overreacting is an understatement. People are just too serious these days. Can’t people just see it as a funny ad? Everything is sexist, racist, conservative, liberal….gosh.

    To see this as a encouragement to harassment….please!

  7. Wasn’t it just a few years ago when Carly Rae Jepsen sang that hit song “hey i just met you.. call me crazy, but here’s my number, so call me maybe?”
    Not sure why people would be offended by this especially when they don’t have to participate. And if they do receive the napkin w/a phone number, at least they have the power to *not* call the person back. Just be flattered and throw away that napkin.

  8. C’mon people!!!! Get a life!!!! Get the napkin, read it, laugh about it and move on. Not a big deal. People are too sensitive these days. Everything now is a big deal. How about those inflight messaging systems that allowed you to text with a fellow passenger by selecting his seat number? Nobody cares.

  9. I think it was weird or even creepy, and I am glad they apologised.

    I feeely admit I am of the “put the headphones in and avoid any conversation beyond basic politeness” crowd – I don’t enjoy at all being approached or talked to by people I don’t know when I am trapped in a confined space like metal tube for hours.

    I can’t imagine how awkward and embarrassing it would be if someone gave me their number like this in the middle of a long flight, and I would definitely be very very annoyed that the airline encouraged this for a cheap corporate marketing stunt. We don’t all live in a Romcom, as some people on here seem to think…

    Very surprised anyone thought this was a good idea.

  10. It seems a little inappropriate for the sensitivities of our current culture.
    However, that being said…i wholeheartedly agree with the folks that commented “lighten up people, you’re taking things way too seriously”

  11. I was the victim of having someone request a seat next to me for a flight (as it was open so he changed seats), then once I deplaned he chased after me in the airport and tried to get me to “share” a cab with him. It’s pretty scary as a woman traveling alone. If you have ever been in this situation, you would not find this campaign the least bit amusing.
    As a captive passenger on an airplane, Delta and Coke should not encourage the situation to get worse.

  12. Oh my snowflake generation!
    This is a cute initiative …it doesn’t have to go to the dark depths some people make it out to be!
    Why do you have to be offended at every and anything ….clearly we are just all so miserable with our own fake lives on Instagram that we have to get mad at a napkin ….
    Can we all just take a breath and enjoy the sunshine for a moment?

  13. It wasn’t an ‘initiative’, it was a beverage napkin. It wasn’t bizarre, it was a script on a beverage napkin.

    The generation that thinks its ok to send unsolicited air drops of their junk suddenly gets freaked out about manually giving someone your phone number. You can’t make this stuff up.

  14. I totally agree with @Jackson RT. This is not a good time to promote ‘good ol’ days’ flirting while on an airplane.

  15. I shouldn’t open my laptop before first cup of coffee in the morning. It keeps happening to my all the time recently; I try to open OMAAT and read about some airline and travel related stuff (preferably reviews), but instead I somehow find myself on Huffington Post’s website reading about bizarre “news” written by so-called “journalists/bloggers” overengaged in politics…

  16. I recall that Virgin America suggested something similar – you could use your seatback entertainment system to send a message to another seat number

    Not sure how many people tried it

  17. How many times do you read an article like this one and it contains the line (quoting James): “in the current climate of #MeToo”.

    I think we should examine what that means. Does ‘current climate’ mean this is some way station, after which we’ll be onto something else? Or does it mean that we’ve reached a nirvana and we are at the pinnacle of enlightened purity?

    There was once a ‘current climate of Prohibition’ in the USA, ‘of monarchy’ in France, ‘of communism’, in Russia, etc. Each were thought by their purveyors as the highest form of achievement, but each toppled under hubris and folly.

  18. What if – and hear me out – the US3 stopped trying to suck a penny out of every goddamned thing and just provided cocktail napkins without any f*cking branding at all except their own? We get it, Delta…you serve Coke products. You have a partnership with Coca-Cola. We don’t need to be reminded of it.

  19. I followed the instructions on the napkin and gave my number to someone in 3F and now we are married with two kids. But now that they’re pulling the napkins I don’t know what my hopes for finding a mistress are.

  20. OK, I get that the main readership of this blog is mostly middle-aged men, myself included. So naturally we are not impacted and don’t care much about it.

    However, there are apparently some people care, like Beth above who shared her experience as reason to against this.

    So just some basic logic here. If you don’t care, shut up! it doesn’t impact you one way or another; as long as some people with legit reason against it, it is the right thing to do for Delta to retract and apologize.

    Is this very hard to understand?

  21. @lu

    “So just some basic logic here. If you don’t care, shut up! it doesn’t impact you one way or another; as long as some people with legit reason against it, it is the right thing to do for Delta to retract and apologize.”

    Give me a break! Beth example is exactly the reason why this ad is not the problem. She was harassed and there were no Coca Cola napkins involved. If someone is going to do something like that, he/she won’t need a special prepared napkin to do that.

  22. It’s a flight, not a work environment as in where most of the #MeToo abuse took/takes place so I don’t see any direct linkage with that.

    I’ve been approached on flights, in airports, lounges and hotels while traveling solo and it’s easy to just politely decline any further contact. These are all public places and I never felt intimidated. However, if even one person feels intimidated or annoyed, then it’s probably a bad idea and DL did the right thing removing the napkins.

  23. James, I’m a fan of yours but some of your fellow bloggers already posted about this a day or so ago… perhaps you need to start doing HT or post a lot faster?

  24. Mauricio Matos
    This is the exact the problem with some people: Those perverts gonna do it anyway, so I don’t have to be sensitive to those things.

    As institutions , coca cola or delta, they should not endorse this behavior. This kind of ‘joke’ also will make people like Beth feel unease. And what is the benefit of those “jokes” bring? Please remind me.

  25. So with the #metoo era, is it no longer appropriate for anyone to ask a stranger out in person? Outside of apps, how is someone single expected to get a date if this is the case?

    Research shows that one out of every fifty travelers finds love on a plane ( so it seems that based upon this, planes would be a good place for someone to give their number.

    It has been shown (one can look at the work of Boston College’s Professor Kerry Cronin, who is an expert on dating issues and who actually gives her students the assignment of asking someone on a date in person) that young adults are not as happy because they are not asking others on dates as much anymore, and that people need to go back to a lot of the old dating practices. There is an importance of being able to ask one out in person. The Delta napkin seems to encourage and help facilitate this.

  26. how is this offensive to some is way beyond my understanding, but how does this have to do with metoo movement??? i guess you just bandwagon everything that’s ever so slightly related to sex/gender to your political agenda.

  27. So whenever we’re in public nowadays are we meant to just pretend no-one else exists?

    The leap from “here’s my number” to sexual harassment is pathetic and absurd. No wonder America can be such an unwelcoming place if this is how you view social interaction…

  28. It’s not creepy or weird, it’s just totally shit and reflects the absolutely moronic nature of today’s world. If I like someone I see on a plane, I’ll approach them. I won’t rely on some corporate-branded f***ing napkin.

  29. I love the uninformed and sexist/heteronormative assumptions all these people that are “creeped” out make. First, this is not going to be an opportunity for predators. They are predators! They will not simply give you their number on a napkin; they will sit beside you and sexually assault you if that is their inclination. No napkin will change or enhance that behavior.
    Second, in 2019, why does everybody assume a man is the only person capable of giving his number to a woman? Couldn’t an empowered woman want to give her number to an attractive guy? Or what about a woman wanting to give her number to an attractive woman? Or a male wanting to give their number to a male? While I could see how the last 2 scenarios might be unlikely due to fears of a homophobic response midflight, maybe we need to broaden our views of sexual autonomy? It is the best feminist criticism i’ve seen of the #MeToo movement: while we need to stand up to predatory males, what happens if we go too far and deny women their ability to express their sexual autonomy?

  30. I flew AA first class domestic last week and they had the same napkins. Curious why only Delta is mentioned. Is it possible AA got the DL napkins from catering by mistake. They don’t say an airline name in them.

  31. Millennial: I am horrified with current sensitivities that we would have napkins encouraging speaking to your seat mates.

    Me: Uh, ok. Nice

    Also millennial: Here’s an unsolicited pic of my junk in a Grindr message.

    Also me: Uh, ok. Nice.

  32. If you don’t feel attracted to the person who wrote down their number, don’t call them. There is literally nothing creepy about this. We are slowly headed towards a culture of arranged romantic relationships.

  33. Seems like a fun idea to me. People need to lighten up and not take things so seriously. If someone gave you the napkin and you weren’t interested, just say thanks and throw it way. No big deal. No harm, no foul.

  34. The human race would be extinct if the people offended by this had their way. Apparently, we should not tell people we are attracted to that we would like to get to know them better. Crazy stuff.

  35. Whenever I come across people like this I want to empty a portaloo all over them.

    This is neither creepy nor awkward.

  36. Why not take a survey of attractive women and ask whether they’d like airline sponsored initiatives to encourage passengers to flirt with each other?

    Oh yeah, I guess we’d already know the answer from >90% of them.

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