Inside Delta's Fifth Annual SXSW Shuttle: "The Entire Flight Is First-Class”

Alex Berliner
Passengers on Delta's SXSW Festival Shuttle

This year’s passengers on the UTA-organized flight included actors Ravi Patel, Hannah Hart and Patrick Schwarzenegger.

As Hollywood and Silicon Valley headed out to Austin, Texas, for SXSW last Friday, a handful of VIP festival goers snagged a spot on an exclusive Delta flight.

For the fifth year in a row, the airline partnered with United Talent Agency for its annual Delta Festival Shuttle, a curated flight experience out of Los Angeles International Airport that offers customers the chance to network with other tech and entertainment industry execs.

The three-hour flight got passengers to the conference just in time for all the Friday night premieres and parties, the biggest of which was the debut of Jordan Peele’s new movie Us.

Among the plane’s VIP guests — a mix of tech CEOs, venture capitalists and Hollywood executives — was digital star Hannah Hart, along with actors Patrick Schwarzenegger (you may know his dad, Arnold) and Ravi Patel, who has a part in the SXSW competition title Long Shot starring Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron.

They joined other passengers including several execs and representatives from Hulu, NBCUniversal, Two Bit Circus, FabFitFun, LinkedIn, Patreon and investment firms such as BDMI.

“There’s nothing like uniting the Los Angeles media and tech communities every year at 30,000 feet with our friends from Delta,” said UTA Ventures' Andrew Farage, who helped curate the invite list. “The entire flight is first-class.”

In addition to perks like free checked bags and an expedited check-in and security process, guests got to take advantage of a free pre-flight brunch at LAX’s Barney’s Beanery, where dozens of passengers grabbed drinks and mingled ahead of the flight. They got to keep drinking even after take-off, thanks to the in-flight open bar.

People spent most of the flight up out of their seats networking and ordering tequila cocktails. The aisles were so packed that flight attendants had trouble squeezing by for in-flight service. While in the air, guests also had chance to win free Delta flights, which were given out to a number of lucky passengers.

Even after the plane landed, the perks didn’t stop. Each passenger got to walk away with a gift bag — filled with goodies from Corkcicle, Goop and other name brands — as well as complimentary Silver Medallion Status through 2019.

“It was a flight experience unlike any other,” said Plus Capital's Ryan Morris. “I made new friends and bonded with old contacts that I’ll be close with for a long time to come. This was my first time on board the UTA Delta SXSW shuttle, and I won’t miss it again.”