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Behind Delta's Stylish Ground Travel

When Delta launched its pioneering program of Porsche vehicles to transfer Diamond Medallion customers from gate to gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2011, the team knew that the unique cars and SUVs would turn some heads. And indeed they did. Customers loved the service. 

The service was soon expanded to Los Angeles, New York-JFK and Minneapolis/St. Paul in 2013. The latest cities to receive the service are Detroit, New York-LaGuardia and Seattle.

Delta News Hub rode along with Dawn Torres from Delta’s Elite Services team for a behind-the-scenes perspective of a typical day.

5:24 a.m. – Arrive at MSP airport. Proceed through employee security checkpoint.

5:38 a.m. – Clear security and go to concourse F to meet with the Elite Services team

Delta News Hub: So how do you choose which customers get to ride in the Porsche? 

Dawn Torres: I go through our list and it shows all of our Diamond customers that are coming in and where they’re going. If they end up having less than a 30 minute connection, we know who’s coming where so we can be ready for them. We also go through our delayed flights and we look at flights with tight connections to see who we can help. We try to help as many people as we can.

6:08 a.m. – Review inbound passenger traffic lists.

6:22 a.m. – Briefing to discuss incoming and connecting passengers for the morning.

6:37 a.m. – Establish the morning customer priority list.

DNH: When somebody outside of work asks you what you do, how do you respond to them? How do you describe your job at Delta?

DT: Driving a Porsche all day is just the undertone. To me, it’s delivering top quality customer service. And that’s what I say, I tell them, “I give the very best customer service I can and by the way, I drive a Porsche from gate to gate.”

7:34 a.m. – Depart for first customer pick-up.

7:47 a.m. – Check customer flight status with the Fly Delta app for incoming flight. The flight tracker map shows where the aircraft is in its flight path and when it’s landed.

8:04 a.m. – Arrive at gate G20 and receive another trip alert that the inbound flight has a later arrival time. When the inbound aircraft arrives, greet the customer who now has a 25 minute connect time to get to gate G15 and help them into the waiting Porsche.

8:42 a.m. – Call the gate agent to confirm seat, arrive at the gate with the customer and escort him to seat 2C.

DNH: What’s it like to get some of the reactions from customers?

DT: It’s pretty cool. Last year, I had a husband and wife who used a picture next to a Porsche with an aircraft in the background as their Christmas card.

One of the great times is when you have someone that travels a lot and they have their family with them to experience the service. If we can reward the family for all the things they deal with because their loved one is gone, then that’s a good thing, too.

8:52 a.m. – Drive to gate G10 for another customer pickup and arrive at 9:01 a.m. Check the flight status on the customer’s inbound aircraft.

9:12 a.m. – Pick-up a Diamond Medallion customer and help her with bags. Transport her to gate F2 and escort customer to her seat on the aircraft.

DNH: Is there anything that has really stayed with you from a particular individual or experience since you’ve been doing this job?

DT: I’ve met so many very interesting people. The coolest person I’ve ever met was a Sherpa from Nepal. He spoke very little English and he was coming over to speak at a climate summit in South Dakota. He was telling me about all the things that he did and he was so down-to-earth, but I just thought, wow, that’s amazing.

9:54 a.m. – Depart for F9 to pick up the next customer. Check the inbound flight status and assist him to his connecting flight.

10:19 a.m. – Return to the staging office to review additional inbound customer lists.

DNH: What’s the favorite part of your job or the best part of your day?

DT: Truthfully, it’s when I have a 10-minute connect and everything works together. You call the tower, you have the team get the bags and everybody is working together from DGS to the tower to the ramp guys to the gate agents and it seamless. When it looks like we’ve got it all under control, but you know there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. I always say to our customers, ‘If I’m not worried, you don’t have to be worried.’ Then they make their connection and they’re so grateful they made it. 

10:32 a.m. – Arrive at gate F3 and check flight status of the next inbound flight.

10:39 a.m. – Greet the next Diamond Medallion customer and help him to the Porsche.

10:44 a.m. – Arrive at the customer’s departing gate and escort customer to his flight.

DNH: How do you think our customers think about Delta after they experience getting picked up in a Porsche?

DT: They love it! I’ll have people talk about how wonderful their experience with Delta has been. I’ve had customers say to me, “I have a million miles with United, American and Delta – and I prefer Delta.” And that’s the only way we’re going to keep winning them. 

Read more about Delta's relationship with Porsche.