The other side of the Scottevest scandal: Did Jordan try to get his “beat the system” ad rejected?

It’s hard to find an airline blogger who hasn’t reported on the Scottevest scandal. Late last week, Delta Air Lines’ in-flight magazine turned down an ad for Scott Jordan’s jackets — an ad that offered a way to “beat the system” that requires air travelers pay for their checked bags.

Jordan has been aggressively pitching media, including me. Over the weekend, he left a message on my cell phone that promised “the backstory is more interesting than what’s been printed.” (See an updated comment from Jordan at the end of this interview.)

I was intrigued. Since Jordan has told his story to everyone already, I thought I’d try to get Delta’s side of the controversy. So far, the carrier has only issued terse rebuttals to Jordan’s claims, citing its policy of keeping business transactions confidential. I asked Marialice Harwood, publisher of Delta Sky Magazine, if she could fill in some of the gaps. Here’s our interview.

Can you give me the Reader’s Digest version of what happened?

On Wednesday of last week, our sales rep in New York received an inquiry from an agency, asking if they could get a page in the November issue of Sky. We asked if we could see the actual ad, which is standard when we have a new advertiser, and especially if we can’t tell what the ad is by the name.

We saw the ad, and we approved it.

Wait. You approved the ad?


[Note: Here’s the original ad.]

What happened then?

They came back to us, and said we are going to need an extension. They said they needed to tweak a few things. But we had already seen the ad and approved it. We made it clear to them that the revised ad would need to go through the approval process, too.

Are your standards for ads spelled out anywhere?

Yes. On our rate card, it says all advertising is subject to approval. Under payment terms, it says the content and placement of all advertising is subject to Delta Air Lines approval. It says, we recommend all images and verbiage be airline/flying friendly to facilitate this practice.

What kind of changes are normally made to an ad?

This close to deadline? The changes are normally very small. Maybe someone has put the wrong ad code or they need to fix a date. I’ve never seen a revision like this.

What was your reaction when you saw the new ad?

[Note: Here’s the new ad.]

When I saw the second ad on Friday, I looked at the headline, and it said, “Beat the system.” And I said, “I’m not comfortable with that headline.” Beat the system? This is a vest that you’re going to go through security with. Here’s a last-minute ad, we’re right up against deadline.

I wanted Delta to take a look at this. And Delta concurred with me: This isn’t an ad that we want to take. We want to be talking about the positive things that go with travel. It just didn’t meet our standards.

There have been allegations that you were somehow protecting Delta’s revenues from luggage fees. By way of full disclosure, I’ve been very critical of luggage fees in the past, so I can see Jordan’s point.

Never. I’m not aware of what Delta makes from baggage fees. It didn’t cross my mind. It was just kind of my own reaction.

Then came the social-media campaign. What was your reaction to that?

I was shocked. We try to do things right and be fair. We were disappointed. Nothing like this has ever happened to us. My experience is that people understand full well why their ad isn’t accepted. I was upset, because when I read what Scott said, it didn’t match how the business was being transacted.

What other kinds of ads have you rejected?

Well, there was one for relieving air sickness. Why would an in-flight magazine promote an airsickness medication? Another company tried to place an ad that suggested passengers would be uncomfortable in a middle seat. We didn’t take that ad, either.

I want everyone on the plane to be enjoying the magazine. Why would you want to open a magazine and have that pointed out to you, that a middle seat is uncomfortable? We don’t want anyone to speak about our business in a negative way.

The other side has tried to portray this as a ‘David vs. Goliath’ confrontation. Your thoughts?

I don’t know about that. It was me and another person making this decision. There was no motive to impinge upon anyone’s ability to sell his vests. We had accepted his ad. He made a switch at the last minute. It was only then that we had to say, “Sorry, this is inappropriate.”

To me, it’s frustrating. We said we would run the ad. We said, in good faith, “This is approved.” And then suddenly, that’s not the ad.

I imagine some people reading this might think Jordan intentionally changed the ad, hoping it would be rejected.

Once people read this, they are free to draw their own conclusions.

Update (4:45 p.m.): I spoke with Jordan. He says he did not try to get his ad rejected. He says his media broker submitted an “outdated” ad, and when it realized its mistake, he swapped it out.

Jordan’s understanding is that they were asked to submit a “sample” ad — not the actual ad — on Wednesday. He says two days later, on Oct. 1, his company replaced it with the ad that was eventually rejected.

“I did not intend to do a bait and switch,” he says. “I did not want the ad rejected.”

Jordan says he tried to change the ad once it was rejected, but couldn’t negotiate a resolution.

Update 2 (10/7): Jordan has contacted me again. He’s asked me to write a follow-up story. He believes he deserves a chance to say that he did not intentionally submit the wrong ad, is given an opportunity to explain the process of buying ads, and is allowed to clarify how he pitches media.

I see things a little differently. This Q&A was Delta’s opportunity to tell its side of the story after Jordan had been talking with media about his ad problems for several days. I stand behind the interview. I don’t think there’s a need for another story unless something newsworthy happens.

But I might be wrong. So I’m putting this to a vote.

Update 3: The votes are in.

In the meantime, there’s been another follow-up story that addresses Jordan’s concerns.

(Photo: Alex/Flickr Creative Commons)

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at,,, and

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend