Delta Claims To Be The Premium Airline But They’re Serving 7-11 Bubbly In Airport Lounges

At the Wolfe Research conference yesterday Glen Hauenstein remarked that Delta had 53 Sky Clubs open pre-pandemic and will have 53 open in June. There’s an emphasis on premium product coming out of the recent challenging period. Delta believes that by offering customers more they can get customers to spend more on premium products which are “higher margin.”

But what if they’re achieving that margin by claiming to offer a premium product, but they’re really offering something you can buy at 7-11?

I was genuinely surprised by reports about the complimentary champagne being served this past week at Delta’s Sky Clubs. They used to serve Veuve du Vernay which is inexpensive but at least proper champagne. However this week we saw the appearance in Atlanta of Cooks.

According to Delta spokesperson Drake Castaneda “Veuve du Vernay has and will remain our complimentary sparkling wine selection at Delta Sky Clubs.” It appears, though, that individual clubs are currently offering the cheapest and most available bottles they can find, like when the airline was pouring predeparture Andre in international business class.

Cooks and Andre both are sold at 7-11 (Some would argue that Andre is better than Cooks.)

Perhaps Delta just considers themselves to be the premium carrier because they offer bubbles at no extra charge in their lounges. In contrast, American Airlines continues to offer its Veloce red and white “exclusive label from Bobby Stuckey” but no complimentary champagne. These are the same options as before the pandemic

American Airlines House Red and White

And American Airlines, in fact, no longer engages wine expert Bobby Stuckey. That relationship appears to have been a victim of the pandemic (he was the their latest Ken Chase). American’s wine program is currently outsourced to Intervine. Spokesperson Leah Rubertino tells me “Later this year, we’ll have more to come on what’s next for our wine program. We really enjoyed working with Bobby, he picked some great wines!”

United, for its part, dispenses with the champagne for its ‘no upcharge’ offering and offers Mionetto Prosecco instead, along with Camelot Red and White.

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. DL would be better off not serving sparkling wine at all. How embarrassing.

    Technically and officially, Andre and Cook’s are not even champagne.

  2. That’s why I pay a premium to fly Delta
    Best airline in the world.Classy sparking wine and lowest cost redemptions
    Go Delta go !
    Away that is

  3. Yes, a “premium” airline that still serves shelf stable snacks instead of meals on transcon flights, has ridiculously long phone hold times, even for elite members, and after ending seat blocking has inconsistent boarding procedures (some flights still board back to front, meaning lower level elites and comfort+ passengers sitting at the front are made to board last, after all the bins are full). @Gary, you used to (pre-pandemic) say something like Delta is pretty good, but not as good as they think they are. The latter is still true but I’ve started questioning the former.

  4. Would be interesting to compare the number of AA/UA lounges open in June. UA in particular, IIRC, doesn’t have a single non-hub lounge open, which is pathetic given their positive-EBITDA claims

  5. Four-hour wait time over the weekend for Delta Diamond Desk after an equipment change unassigned all the seats. Good luck doing a same-day change. I haven’t had a wait time under 2 hours for a month. Even at 10-11pm or 6am. Meanwhile, lazy gate agents are no longer upgrading when an empty seat in first exists. Three of my last four flights have departed with empty first seats and passengers on the upgrade list. The fourth departed with a uniformed off-duty flight attendant taking a first-class seat over the 10-plus passengers on the upgrade list.

  6. Say what you will, Cooks Brut ain’t bad.
    Compare it to what beverage AA is serving preflight: they’re not.

    No alcohol during boarding for business and first, no alcohol at all for economy, period.

    Cooks is lookin’ pretty good now, eh?

  7. Cooks can NEVER look good, IMO. Or taste good. Did anyone at Delta consider the optics here? Not even mid-shelf- genuine bottom shelf stuff.

  8. When flying premium, (real) Champagne is expected.
    You cannot call your product or lounge as premium if there’s no (real) Champagne.
    It’s part of the deal.
    By the way, Air France pours real Champagne in Economy.

  9. Since the USA allows winemakers to attach the word champagne to any plonk they desire, the word “champagne” is meaningless in American parlance. Allowing Cooks to brand itself as champagne makes people who spend $6.99 on a bottle think they have acquired a “fancy” product. Most consumers at domestic Sky Clubs don’t understand what they’re ordering when they ask for champagne, so why should DL care? I’d say UA is wise to save money on offering up a palatable Prosecco.

    The customers who truly care are more likely to be in the Polaris lounge anyway, where proper champagne is being served.

  10. FNT Delta Diamond. When my husband and I would non – rev vacation pass they put new hire rampers and ghetto dressed rappers in business first ahead of us. It’s been over for sometime.

  11. Ghetto dressed rappers, eh. The way way you describe it, they probably have more taste and money than white trash like you.

  12. The cheap prosecco that United serves in its lounges is what Delta serves in Delta One business domestically, including JFK-LAX and ATL-HNL. Before 2018, they served champagne from Champagne,

  13. @Gary Veuve du Vernay is not close to proper champagne. It’s not from Champagne, and its (much cheaper) production method is the same as Prosecco (Charmat), which helps explain why it is priced like many mass produced proseccos at $10/bottle.

    Not to say it’s not better than Cooks, and Delta deserves some credit for at least serving one of the least worst $10 sparkling out there, but saying they were serving anything remotely premium before is being way too generous here.

  14. Forget the champagne, I wish they would spend some money on a good bourbon or rye. Champagne is just glorified carbonated grape juice.

  15. Indeed, according to Woods Wholesale Wine sells Veuve du Vernay Brut for $6.98/750 ml bottle. You can pick up a Magnum of Cooks in Total Wine CA for $6.97. Both are comparable cheap products – hence DL does the substitution.

  16. @Carlos: I think you are mistaken. Veuve de Vernay does use the traditional or champagne method for some of its sparkling wines, according a quick Google search. Yes, it’s not from Champagne but it is from the Loire Valley (I believe).

  17. Calling veuve du vernay “proper champagne” is downright offensive (and factually incorrect)

  18. First World problems. For most of us the quality of life, even on an airplane, is not measured by the brand of alcohol.
    I recognize some Limousine Liberals commenting.

  19. @One Trippe – for coming on a travel blog and turning your nose up at people actually commenting on, you know, the travel experience…bless your little heart

  20. Folks, remember that Upgrades are a benefit, not a guarantee. Regarding the comment about the Flight Attendant (in uniform) who was sitting up front, please consider the following possibilities:
    1. The F/A was traveling on essential company business and there is considered a “must-ride”.
    2. The F/A may have been dead-heading to the destination in order to work a flight so that hundreds of other passengers would not be delayed or stranded.
    3. Irregular Operations, caused by issues such as weather, facilitate the need to shift crew members across the country to cover passenger loads, so that the rest of us can continue on our journeys with the least amount of interruption as possible.
    4. The F/A may have been pulled off of his/her trip because of an on the job injury or medical issue and needs to return home for medical care…just as we passengers would want to return home to be examined by our own personal physicians.
    5. The F/A may have been a commuter and may have actually purchased a ticket to travel (just like we passengers do) to get to his/her destination in order to avoid flying standby.
    6. The F/A may have had a death in the family and needed to get home as soon as possible, and maybe the Gate Agent placed the F/A up front out of empathy for the F/A’s situation.

    Point being, please do not judge the airline, the Gate Agent or the F/A. We are not privy to the reason(s) that F/A was seated in that location. Just be happy that someone got the seat.

    Btw, I am a Medallion 2 Million Miler with Delta Air Lines. I still consider it an honor & privilege whenever I’m fortunate enough to score a complimentary upgrade. See you in the skies!
    Happy Flying!!

  21. Usual Delta vaporware

    UNITED is rising – legit prosecco in the lounges for years now

  22. First of all Cook’s is California grapes and made the same way or even better than France, so what the problem? It the last name of the founder and maybe you need them to call it Shangri-La
    And charge $185 a bottle and most of you will go and buy it, wake up people.It has good taste and never gives you a headache can’t say the same of some of the other stuff I tried.It sparking wine
    sane as all the rest so get off your high horse and come back to reality. I don’t like the favor of the $200 bottle sparkling FRENCH wine except Moët but if I had a choice I prefer California grapes over all.Cooks been around sine the civil war and will be around another 150 years

  23. “ … Veuve du Vernay which is inexpensive but at least proper champagne …”
    Oye vey
    Thought leader says “YES”!!

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