Delta’s Brand Maligned by Ann Coulter

Delta’s brand took a hit this weekend from conservative pundit Ann Coulter who was upset that her $30 seat upgrade got ignored. Brand representatives apologized for the mix-up, but hit back at Coulter’s insults — including those about the passenger placed in Coulter’s aisle seat on Saturday who the pundit said had “dachshund” legs.

Delta’s reaction is a departure from that of other airlines in the news. United Airlines “quietly” made a move on its overbooking policy last week that may affect its brand perception, but Delta loudly defended its employees and customers on Sunday against Coulter’s comments about being moved from an aisle to a window seat in her original row.

Delta’s statement is classified on its site as a news article, written by a staff writer and published on Sunday. The airline says of itself:

Delta issued the following statement in response to Coulter’s insults:

“We are sorry that the customer did not receive the seat she reserved and paid for. More importantly, we are disappointed that the customer has chosen to publicly attack our employees and other customers by posting derogatory and slanderous comments and photos in social media. Her actions are unnecessary and unacceptable.

Each of our employees is charged with treating each other as well as our customers with dignity and respect. And we hold each other accountable when that does not happen.

Delta expects mutual civility throughout the entire travel experience.

We will refund Ms. Coulter’s $30 for the preferred seat on the exit row that she purchased.”

Coulter was still tweeting about the New York-to-West Palm Beach flight on Monday.

And while Coulter was a trending topic on Twitter, @Delta appeared to have moved on to interacting with and replying to other passengers’ concerns.

In Delta’s posting on Sunday, the “staff writer” said Coulter didn’t complain about the seat switch until after the plane landed — and she expressed her displeasure via tweets. So Delta representatives tried to reach Coulter to “apologize for the seat mix-up; however, they did not hear back from Coulter until Sunday evening.”

In one of her claims on Twitter, Coulter says choosing her seat cost her more than $30, it was an opportunity cost of her time of $10,000 that she could’ve been earning as her own brand.

What do you think, marketers? As for the American Airlines issue on Sunday, it doesn’t appear to have brand implications.

Please respond in the comments section below.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.
Publish date: July 18, 2017 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT