Delta Air Lines Bankruptcy Emergence, Part 16: On to Los Angeles

Note: Nine years ago yesterday, Delta Air Lines formally emerged from bankruptcy protection; and this article is the sixteenth of a series of articles which I first wrote nine years ago today — and this article combines several original articles.

 veryone had to go through a special outdoor security screening by several Transportation Security Administration officers, except for Jerry Grinstein.

No, Jerry did not receive special treatment. He was returning to Atlanta instead of continuing on to Los Angeles with us.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Anyway, we all had the full security treatment, as if going through a secondary screening. Shoes had to be removed. Metal items such as keys, watches and belts with buckles were collected on a special table adorned with a red Delta tablecloth and bunting. We were all wanded.

Well, there is typically no official security checkpoint outside of a hangar on a tarmac, so all of the security had to be manually done and in a stringent manner. Strangely, though, it was rather pleasant. After all, there were no clouds, and it was a beautiful and breezy warm 80-degree day outside. One Transportation Security Administration officer smiled and remarked what a nice change of pace it was to conduct a security screening outside instead of at a crowded checkpoint inside. I typically do not like being screened, but these Transportation Security Administration officers made the process rather pleasant.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence

Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

We then boarded the aircraft, bound for Los Angeles. Our flight was number one for take-off, as the airport was remarkably quiet, allowing for the earlier “fly-by” as well as for the quick departure.

To try out the on-board in-flight entertainment system, the “flight attendants” announced a trivia game where the winner gets a prized possession intended for Jim Whitehurst. However, because Jim did not join us on the flight from Atlanta, they “felt slighted” and decided he did not deserve the prize that was originally intended for him, just to “spite” him.

I really enjoyed the fun interaction between the employees of Delta Air Lines, regardless of their status — er…I mean, job position.

Anyway, I nearly won the prize, but at the very last question, Spence, who was the official videographer for Delta Air Lines on that flight, pulled out an “upset” and won the prize.

We were served a choice of snack on the flight: either a choice of sandwich or a Milano chicken Caesar salad, served with a slice of coconut cream pie. For some bizarre reason, unlike the meal that was served on the flight from Atlanta to Salt Lake City where the flatware was all plastic, the flatware on this flight was all metal.

As we approached Los Angeles, the airport was too busy to do a “fly-by”, so it landed as normal on the runway. Once again, the aircraft received a water cannon salute before parking at Gate 50.

The Los Angeles Reception: Gate 50

Here we go again…

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Los Angeles

The bombardment of confetti by Delta Air Lines employees in Los Angeles begins to rain on Joe Kolshak as he steps out of the Jetway at Gate 50 at the airport. Spencer Adams mans the video camera on the left edge of this photograph. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Los Angeles

“I Earned Five SkyMiles on This Trip” is what Jeff Robertson, Managing Director of the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program, seems to be proudly proclaiming in this photograph taken shortly after he deplaned from Delta Air Lines flight 9998 at Gate 50 at the airport in Los Angeles. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

…as we deplaned, I heard loud cheers emanating outside the end of the Jetway for every person who emerged from the aircraft into the terminal at Gate 50. This time, I tried to be inconspicuous. I waited in the Jetway until Spence, who was videotaping the people leaving the aircraft, made his way down the Jetway. I then followed closely behind him while he was taping as he walked forward.

Upon leaving the Jetway, I saw people on both sides in an obviously festive atmosphere. As we walked past them, loud cheers erupted as metallic plastic confetti was flying through the air. I sheepishly held up my camera while following closely behind Spence, but to no avail. I heard someone shout “Camera Guy!” immediately before I was plastered with confetti.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Los Angeles

Joe Kolshak uses the gate paging system to address the crowd at Gate 50 at the airport in Los Angeles shortly after deplaning. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Despite my best efforts, I was still picking confetti out of my hair and luggage days later. Apparently, Lee and other people who deplaned faced the same dilemma.

Because Jerry was not in Los Angeles, Joe Kolshak, Executive Vice President — Operations for Delta Air Lines, addressed the crowd and briefly spoke about the emergence of Delta Air Lines from bankruptcy, as well as the future of Delta Air Lines.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Los Angeles

The party at Gate 50 at Los Angeles International Airport, which is the gate where ship 638 pulled into after landing from Salt Lake City, is getting ready to go into full swing. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Los Angeles

Emergence has been a key concept with Delta Air Lines, and Wesley Keeley, captain of Delta Air Lines flight 9998, is no exception as he emerges from the heap of confetti showered upon him upon exiting the Jetway at Gate 50 at Los Angeles International Airport. He does not appear to mind the attention. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Refreshments were served at the gate. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines employees, as well as police officers, firefighters and media representatives, were escorted onto the aircraft for a tour. In the meantime, I was interviewed by Peter Pae of the Los Angeles Times. The article appeared in the May 7, 2007 edition and can be accessed here.

After that interview, I was interviewed on video tape by Spence.

Although my main role for attending the bankruptcy emergence events in Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles clearly is to document the events in this “blog”, it was strange how one moment I was doing the interviewing, while the next moment I was being interviewed. One moment, I was a photographer; the next moment, I was being photographed.

Regardless, there was never a dull moment.

The Delta Logotype on the Aircraft

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

As I sat for a few minutes at Gate 50 at the airport in Los Angeles, waiting for whomever is on-board touring ship 638, I looked at the printed collateral material that adorned the gate area — signs, banners, advertisements, etc. — and I wondered why I liked the D E L T A logotype better on the printed materials rather than on the aircraft itself.

This had been bugging me for a while, but the reason finally occurred on me.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

As I sat there, I had both the aircraft and some of the printed materials within my vision from the same vantage point, and I realized that the D E L T A logotype was actually slightly bolder on the printed material than on the aircraft itself.

I have heard comments from many people, including Delta Air Lines employees, to the effect of how the D E L T A logotype seems lost in that vast expanse of white on the aircraft and how it is not “strong” enough.

I believe that if the letters of the D E L T A logotype were simply painted bolder on the aircraft, it would greatly improve the look, yet keep the D E L T A logotype more uniform throughout its application on printed materials as well as on the aircraft.

Getting to the Los Angeles Reception at Creative Artists Agency

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Los Angeles

Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

A reception was held at the Century City offices of the Creative Artists Agency in the Los Angeles area which began at 7:00 in the evening. I was invited by several people to attend, including Joanne Smith, Senior Vice President of In-Flight Service and Global Product Development for Delta Air Lines. I had met her once before at the Velvet Rope Tour in Atlanta in May of 2006.

It was after 5:00 in the afternoon by the time we were ready to leave the airport, but she wanted to first check in at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel so that she can change her clothes and be refreshed for the evening. Remember, this is Los Angeles at rush hour, and we need to go north on the San Diego Freeway, otherwise known as Interstate 405. I am all too familiar with “the 405”. Joanne originally wanted to catch a taxi cab and take that to the Hyatt. Having a rental car already reserved, I offered to drive her to the hotel, as I was going there anyway. She originally refused. I accepted and decided to wait, just to ensure that she indeed will have no problem taking a taxi.

As I suspected, there was a line for taxi cabs but none were immediately available. I offered again to drive her. She was reluctant at first, but I assured her that she will get there faster with me than waiting for a taxi cab. I understood her reluctance because she thought it would take me a while to rent a car — maybe not for several hours until I finally see a car. After all, I first have to wait in line. Then, I first have to give the rental car company all of my information. Only after I agree to sign away my life and that if Godzilla appeared out of nowhere and ate the rental car, I would still be responsible for damages, would the car finally be available to me…

…right?!?

Wrong. Remember — I am a member of FlyerTalk. I don’t wait in line for rental cars. I am a Hertz #1 ClubGold member, as well as a National Emerald Club member. However, this time, the car rental reservation was with Avis. That is no problem, as I am an Avis Preferred Service member.

Because Joanne has a reservation in a Hyatt hotel, I asked Joanne on the shuttle bus to the Avis car rental center if she knew that I was earning Hyatt Gold Passport points while I was renting this car. After seeing the blank look on her face, I asked if she even was a Hyatt Gold Passport member. “No”, she replied. To a FlyerTalk member, this is purely sacrilegious. How can one rent a car, stay at a hotel or even fly on an airline without earning miles or points?!? “There is so much to teach her; so much that she needs to learn”, I thought to myself. Because I am an Avis Preferred Service member, the first stop on the shuttle bus was for me.

I should have taken a picture of the look on Joanne’s face when the rental process took mere minutes, after which I apologized to her for “taking so long”. We then walked to the car, which was fairly new. All of the luggage fit inside of the spacious trunk. I submitted the papers for review upon driving to the exit, and then we were on our way to Century City. I knew that Manchester Boulevard would be quicker to merge onto Interstate 405 and closer to where we had to go — and, unbelievably, traffic was flowing freely!!! Of course, that did not last…

Not Included in the Original Article

Six photographs were added to this article which were not included in the original articles.

Despite ultimately hitting heavy traffic — we are talking about Los Angeles here — we were able to arrive on time; and I parked the car in a nearby garage.

Eventually, we attended the event at the Century City offices of the Creative Artists Agency, where after a few formal speeches during the cocktail hour, there was food and drink flowing — along with plenty of music.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Los Angeles

Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

I had a great time and enjoyed myself, as the party went on into the night…

The crowd listens attentively to Joe Kolshak at Gate 50 at the airport in Los Angeles as he talks about Delta Air Lines, its emergence from bankruptcy, and its future. All photographs ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

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