Delta Bans Employees From Its Airport Lounges Until Further Notice

Starting February 3, Delta Air Lines is banning employees on nonrev travel and who are traveling on company business from accessing their lounges.

According to an internal company communication, Delta acknowledges the “lines out the door” of their clubs and that this includes “360 and Diamond Medallion Members – waiting for seats once inside” and says they’re eliminating access for employees who pay for membership in order to “ensur[e] our most loyal and valued customers have adequate access.”

Already Delta has raised the price of club memberships and banned non-elite customers from buying them and on February 3 will also take away access from elites flying coach on international trips and from club members who are flying on basic economy tickets.

All non-revs are banned from Delta Sky Club lounges.

  • That’s true for Delta employees and other airline employees with club memberships as well as those with qualifying American Express cards.
  • And it’s true for Delta’s employees traveling on company business.

Employees on paid and qualifying award tickets are still allowed to use their club memberships or other forms of access.

Delta is offering employees and retirees with paid Sky Club memberships pro-rated refunds as an option. Employees and retirees with Delta Reserve cards which offer Sky Club access are also entitled to pro-rated refunds of their annual fee if they fully cancel their cards. That refund will be provided by Delta, rather than American Express. These options are not available to family members who nonrev (pass riders).

The airline has also eliminated employee discounts on club memberships. Delta offers as some form of consolation, “public spaces conducive to working are available throughout the airports.”

This makes sense and is necessary, as part of delivering a quality Sky Club product. The lounges are too crowded to be a good experience, although I believe banning Diamond Medallions spending $1495 per year for an Executive Membership when they happen to be traveling on a basic economy ticket is nuts.

However in the context of making employees feel valued and valuable, telling them explicitly that their money is no good and that their airport experience isn’t as important as customers is inconvenient when facing a unionization drive (even if the number of flight attendants with qualifying American Express cards is a relatively small minority).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Jack,
    I have read similar comments about essentially having standby access for non-revenue travel to the Sky Club but how do you price that? A Delta employee is surely not going to spend for a membership if there is no certainty about when it can be used.
    Maybe a one-time use fee just for Delta employees could work but there is no likelihood of SC crowding going down at peak times since Delta keeps adding Amex cardmembers, many of which are gaining SC access.

  2. They are not banned. They must have a paid ticket to use the Amex card. They were never supposed to go in traveling as a non revving employee. Get it right.

  3. Can’t you just buy a ticket the same day and request a refund the second you get inside the lounge? Any ticket can be refunded within 24 hours of purchase according to deltas policy.

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