Three years ago, Atlanta's hometown airline was proud to support the city's quest to bring the Big Game to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. As a cornerstone in the community, Delta partnered with other Atlanta corporations and the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee to showcase the city to the world.
Fast-forward to Sunday, Jan. 27. With the screech of a chartered aircraft's tires landing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and taxiing into Delta TechOps' maintenance facility, years of preparation turns into a week of fan celebration of America's most popular sport - football.
"Just like a championship-caliber team, it's not enough for Delta to have the best operations, products and services - we have to execute," said Gil West, Delta's Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "Our success this week will be determined by how successfully we manage every flight, while consistently meeting and exceeding the expectations of our customers."
Delta is gearing up to handle tens of thousands of fans with additional flights, staffing, elite vehicles and volunteers. Here's a look at Delta's effort to support the fan journey to the Big Game.
Welcome to Atlanta, where the players will play.
As thousands of fans arrive at Hartsfield-Jackson, they will engage with many brands that will take part in the week's festivities. Delta is the Official Airline of the Super Bowl Host Committee, and upon arrival, will take passengers on a branded journey through football-themed jet bridges, into gate areas, past passenger assistance carts, and out to baggage claim.
The paved paradise has become a parking lot.
When the final destination is the world's busiest airport, the result is the world's largest parking lot, and Delta will serve as the valet.
While Delta will not fly either participating team into Atlanta, a rarity for the world's largest sports charter organization, the airline will handle towing, parking and offloading for both teams, the host TV network, league officials and their VIP guests. Teams will arrive Sunday, Jan. 27, with the network and league following later in the week. The big exit will come Monday, Feb. 4, the day after the game, when everyone, led by the newly crowned champions, looks to depart.
Are you gonna go my way?
While Delta operates a reduced flight schedule in the winter, it added service from Boston and Los Angeles in support of fans traveling to the Big Game. The airline is adding about 800 seats into Atlanta on top of the thousands it already offers weekly from those markets. Delta, from its Atlanta hub, is the only airline that provides non-stop service to every professional football team market.
Do we have any volunteers?
While Delta will operate with increased staffing for the days around the Big Game, it will also deploy more than 370 employees from its own volunteer workforce, Peach Corps, inside the airport to help customers with wayfinding, questions, meet-and-greet and care while waiting. Following the game, the Peach Corps teams will begin a 28-hour continuous operation supporting the airport's expected migration of fans leaving downtown to overnight in the airport prior to Monday morning's first flights.
Additionally, as part of its partnership with the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee, the airline will provide more than 500 employees to serve as volunteer ambassadors, positioned around the city in support of Host Committee events and transportation needs.
Well, aren't you special?
At its airport hubs, Delta regularly operates a premium customer surprise-and-delight vehicle service, and for the Big Game the airline will double the number of available vehicles as it expects to move more than 1,000 high value customers and celebrities throughout the week.
Inside the Atlanta airport, all eight Delta Sky Clubs will operate normal hours through Saturday, Feb. 2, but following the Big Game, the Delta Sky Clubs on Concourses T, B and F will extend to 24-hour operations on Feb. 3 and Feb. 4.
Welcome to heartbreak hotel.
Regardless of the result, the end of the game brings the realization that it's time to head home, and on Feb. 3, the Atlanta airport will begin operating in 24-hour mode with airport staffing, security and limited food service.
Passengers with tickets for Monday travel will begin arriving after the game, clearing security and making their way to the concourses.
Delta airport employees and the Peach Corps will welcome overnighting travelers at concourse "help desks" and provide them with blankets, pillows and amenity kits upon request. Delta expects its Monday Atlanta passenger traffic to be up more than 30 percent from normal.
We are the champions!
Delta and Mercedes-Benz Stadium are synonymous with champions and championship play. Since 2000, Delta, branded the Official Airline of Champions, has carried more than 45 teams to their respective titles in professional, collegiate and world competition.
For its part, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, since opening in 2017, has hosted championships in high school, college and professional football, professional soccer, and next year will host the NCAA Final Four.
Delta has a home in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, with the Delta Sky360˚ Club, a 25,000-square foot club located on the field level, allowing fans access to the field throughout the game. The club is on the away sideline for Atlanta Falcons games and the home sideline for Atlanta United matches.