Delta, Porsche partner to give rides at Atlanta airport

See a Porsche on the tarmac after your latest Delta flight? You're not imagining it.

The Atlanta-based airline and the German car company that is building its North American headquarters near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport have partnered to shuttle some of Delta Air Lines' most important passengers between connecting flights, or to their cars.

For Delta, it's a way to "surprise and delight" high-value customers, spokeswoman Chris Kelly Singley said. For Porsche, it's a way to get some potential buyers to take a ride.

"It's really to showcase the cars, to let the right type of people know these cars exist," Porsche Cars North America spokesman Steve Janisse said. "It's an innovative way for us to get people into our products. It's neat because it's the right people."

Not every Delta Diamond Medallion customer -- those who fly more than 125,000 miles a year -- gets a ride in one of the six Cayennes or two Panameras, Singley said. But those who have been picked up seem pleased with the unexpected service, she said.

Calling it a "surprising gesture," Poll Position CEO Eason Jordan said after receiving a ride following one flight, he was "crestfallen" to see that someone else received the service after another flight and he did not. He likened the ride in a Porsche SUV or sedan to winning the lottery after dealing with the grind that air travel can be.

"It's just a fun little surprise," said the former CNN chief news executive. "I'm grateful for that."

The Cayenne starts around $50,000 and the Panamera at $75,000, but both cars can cost more than double their starting prices, depending on options. Porsche places information about the vehicles in the cars and in Delta sky lounges at the airport. In the first month, Delta drivers were given more than 1,500 rides.

Janisse said because the service just started Nov. 1, it is too soon to see much follow-up in terms of sales or test drives. Still, he said, Porsche is pleased with the program's visibility and with the clientele who are getting into its cars.

For now, Singley said, rides are only being offered in Atlanta. The two companies have a one-year contract and there is a possibility that the partnership will expand. Delta did not purchase the cars and the two companies have agreed to a marketing trade.

Singley said Delta occasionally grants perks to let those high-value customers know it is paying attention to their travels. The gestures are a way to show Delta's appreciation of their business.

"It's a quick and easy way to make life easier," Singley said. "Sometimes, it's the small things."

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