On Oct.28, the day Delta announced it was going to discontinue Song, I was both literally and figuratively quite high on Song -- above 30,000 feet, in fact, with four-plus hours to appreciate what a good airline it is. Perhaps its my feminine side that responds to Song.

The night before, by coincidence, I was speaking with someone who had been on the team that conceived and developed Song. The airline, he said, was developed with women firmly in mind.

Song was originally launched to compete with JetBlue on routes between the Northeast and Florida. These are primarily leisure routes, and it did not escape Songs creators that it is women who plan most family vacations.

Focus groups of women helped determine the interior color palette and the choice of Kate Spade to design the uniforms. It was input from women that guided the offerings for children in both entertainment programming and menu selection.

From the large logo visible in the galley to the recipes of its mixed drinks, women shaped Song.

Now that this has been pointed out to me, it does seem that Song is perhaps the least macho of airlines. Its hard to imagine Clint Eastwood or The Rock relaxing in its color-splashed leather seats, sipping Songs signature green apple martinis.

But perhaps more important, its hard to imagine Deltas beleaguered CEO, Gerald Grinstein, in one of those seats. He was never a fan of Song. Upon taking the airlines reins in late 2003, he stated his distaste for the low-fare offshoot by saying it should have been named Swan Song.

He did change his tune -- or at least came to realize it wasnt good for morale to be snide about his own company. In an internal memo he penned to tell employees that Song was being phased out, he positioned Songs demise as a merger between Song and Delta.

In that memo, when he detailed benefits for customers that the newly merged airlines would bring, they came primarily from the Song side of the ledger. What Delta brings to this marriage is its fingers-crossed-tightly hope that profitability can be found in expanded premium cabins and on long-haul routes.

The approach of baiting the front of the plane to attract high-yield -- and primarily male -- business travelers, while offering coach services that are attractive to vacation-planning women (and the stray man who appreciates a pale-green cocktail) offers an appealing yin-yang symmetry that could work.

This dual approach is more daring than it might first seem. Airlines have long acted on the belief that to get people to pay for first class, you must reduce comfort and service in the back of the plane. A passenger didnt so much run to the comfort of first class as run from the unpleasantness of coach.

If coach actually becomes enjoyable on a legacy carrier, will people still have the incentive to book up front? I would back Grinsteins bet that they will. And if so, it will be the first big win for both airlines and consumers to come from the classic carriers in quite some time.

That internal Delta memo was focused on improvements in service, but the heart of the matter -- for Grinstein, most certainly -- lies in what appears to be a throwaway line near the bottom of the first page: By merging brands, we will also benefit from a more simplified operation, reduced overhead costs and more focused marketing resources.

To get that benefit, he needs to fly planes with fewer empty seats and higher fares. By restructuring an airline to increase its appeal to both genders, he just may succeed.


From Our Partners

2021 Caesars Webinar
Register Now
Air Astana 1366
Air Astana
Read More
2021 Family Expo
Family Travel Expo
Register Now

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI