Delta’s ‘innovation class’ is mentoring at 35,000 feet


(AP)  (AP2010)

Forget first class. Delta Air Lines has introduced a new seating section program called innovation class, where a business titan and an up-and-comer are connected so they can share ideas and discuss projects.

"We have customers flying with us who are big thinkers and innovators and are changing the world," Mauricio Parise, Delta's director of worldwide marketing communications, told CNBC. "We want to bring the ones succeeding in their field together with people who aspire to follow them."

Delta teamed up with LinkedIn to launch the program, which matches up leaders in various fields on their way to major industry events and up-and-coming professionals whose applications meet a special set of criteria.  Both get a free first class seat and are encouraged to exchange ideas and gain valuable knowledge along the way.

The program was previewed at the TED2014 conference in Vancouver, B.C., last week. The first two participants were Eric Migicovsky, the inventor of the Pebble Smartwatch, and James Patten, an interaction designer.

Next up is the chance to fly with Sean Brock, executive chef at Husk in Charleston, S.C., who is flying to New York to attend the James Beard Awards on May 5.  The carrier will release other mentor and pairing names over the year.

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Feel like you’re ready to meet you mentor of your dreams?  You can send an application at Delta will select and pair applicants with industry leaders.