How many times have you boarded an airplane and gotten the seat next to the person who chatters incessantly?
Or next to the passenger with a contagious fear of flying?
Or in front of the kid who gets a kick out of kicking the back of your seat?
Raise your hand.
And then there’s smooth, suave Mr. Cello. He’s quiet and dignified. He doesn’t snore when he naps. He never climbs over people to get to the bathroom.
Mr. Cello was a Frequent Flyer on Delta Air Lines until earlier this year. He’s the traveling companion of world-renowned cellist Lynn Harrell, former artistic director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Harrell buys Mr. Cello a ticket so the instrument will have its own seat in the climate-controlled airliner cabin. He doesn’t want to entrust it to the vagaries of cargo.
As an official ticket-carrying traveler, Mr. Cello has been racking up the Delta SkyMiles for 11 years.
And then, as Harrell revealed recently on his blog, Delta unceremoniously booted both him and Mr. Cello from the program. Gone were all the miles they’d accumulated. It seems musical instruments don’t qualify.
This story struck me because, just a couple weeks ago, Southwest Airlines scored huge publicity points for stepping up to fly a late-blooming monarch butterfly from New York to Texas. The airline helped the monarch join the southern butterfly migration for free, even giving the gardener who found it a round-trip ticket so she could accompany her little friend.
It seems like a no-brainer: A kind gesture toward creatures – animate and inanimate – that beautify our world will buy a business more goodwill than any advertising campaign.
And if you can’t actually do a good deed, at least do no harm.
Delta would do well to change its policy. Give Mr. Cello his miles and, while they’re at it, extend the bonus to all other ticket-carrying musical instruments.
They could make beautiful music together.
Penny Carnathan comes to EMSI following 30 years as a national award-winning editor, reporter and columnist at The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Fla. She continues to write a weekly column, Diggin’ Florida Dirt, for The Tampa Bay Times. As a features editor for the past 10 years, Penny received hundreds of press releases and story pitches daily. She knows what it takes to catch an editor’s attention and, more important, what likely will not get a look beyond the email subject line.