Delta Is Right: Employees Are Better Off In The Terminal Than The Sky Club [Roundup]

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • Delta isn’t wrong when they told employees there are better places to spend time in the airport than a Sky Club.

  • True for Centurion lounge also?

  • There wasn’t a lot of value left beyond domestic and Caribbean coach flash sales, but Delta SkyMiles has finally gutted Aeromexico awards too, doubling and quadrupling pricing.

  • Indian men visit all seven continents in under 4 days to break world record

  • Imagine the points! I just hope he was using a card with strong accelerator categories, there are some surprisingly good cards in Brazil, such as an AAdvantage card that earns 2 Loyalty Points per dollar.

    [M]ore than $5 million at today’s exchange rate — was charged to the far-right president’s card during his four-year term, according to account statements published Friday on a government website…Nearly $14,000 was spent on a single visit to a petrol station [GL: gift cards?]

  • I had no idea American Airlines left La Paz, never saw an announcement.

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. Once again, nothing Delta has done has worked. It’s built huge new Sky Clubs and changed the access rules several times in the last three or four years. It isn’t working. It’s like widening a highway to reduce traffic congestion. That never works. It’s been proven scientifically. Until you take cars off the road or, in Delta’s case, reduce the number of customers with access, the congestion won’t be solved.

    Who is waiting in these lines? Do they really have a long enough connection to wait 30 or 40 minutes for a free glass of $5 wine?

  2. They’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The problem is Amex Platinum cardholders and they know it. They have all the data right in front of them and they know the most common method for access is via the Plat card. But their hands are tied because of the monstrous contract with Amex. So, they just introduce tertiary rules that won’t make a dent, but at the same time, won’t violate the contract.

  3. After seeing the photo of many disgruntled people with their faces obscured with blue while standing in a lengthy line waiting to enter the DFW AMEX Centurion Lounge, you may believe there is a Blue Man Group convention inside the DFW Centurion lounge. Standing in line for 30 to 120 minutes to enter the AMEX Centurion Lounge Collection is an exclusive card member benefit that gives ample time for cardholders to contemplate that AMEX membership has its privileges.

  4. NO! Employees do not belong in the passenger lounges. People keep knocking Delta down for overcrowding. Well, this is definitely a start. I’m sure that the haters never fly Delta ( which runs circles around the other US airlines. Period ). Delta Airlines will take care of the problem. They’re going after the many cardholders next.

  5. Do you think Tim Dunn is in one of those lines. Forcefully explaining to someone how 777-222 are woefully fuel inefficient while Delta’s A350’s have more seats than AA’s 777W.

  6. John,
    no I am not in one of those lines – but it simply highlights that the worst of the problem is in a handful of clubs and NYC is part of the problem
    Gary has written how AA can justify its presence in the NYC market because it makes money on cards. Does anyone not think that DL’s addition of new Amex card members is proportionately growing in all cities? Heck no. Delta is growing its card revenues disproportionately faster in NYC and LAX and BOS – cities where it is growing the fastest, where it chose to regrow during the pandemic recovery BEFORE it regrew in its core hubs – and in cities where credit card uptake is high for AA and DL and probably for UA as well.

    If that is true, and I am sure it is, then kicking employees out of the Sky Clubs won’t solve that problem at LGA, JFK or DTW where someone here loves to complain despite the fact that I have never waited to get into a SC.
    If there is any airport where DL employees might be moving the needle on SC crowding, it is ATL just by virtue of the number of DL employees including commuting crewmembers there. With 9 SCs, I’m not even sure employees make a difference there – but DL does know how many employees use the SCs and also how much or little of a difference the employee embargo along w/ everything else will help.

    And as Gary noted DL said they aren’t eliminating the ability for employees to use the SCs permanently but are putting an embargo in place.

    I suspect they are working with Amex to figure how to get the wait times at key clubs down and expedite the building of new clubs wherever they can.

    The revenue from Amex is just too rich to turn away any more customers than necessary – including DL employees that seem happy to pay for their company’s services.

  7. @Tim Dunn – “I suspect they are working with Amex to figure how to get the wait times at key clubs down and expedite the building of new clubs wherever they can.”

    Indeed this is why American Express has built clubs in Delta terminals, when in the beginning the model was to build clubs where Amex Platinum/Centurion members didn’t already have access. Basically Delta made them build in JFK T4, to help take crowding pressure off.

    That’s not a fast process, and only part of the solution. Delta has gone too far, I think, in denying lounge access to Diamond members paying $1500 for an executive membership when they fly on a basic economy fare. But they do need to take extreme measures. It isn’t just a couple of clubs that are at issue, though not every club faces this issue and JFK T4 is certainly the worst.

  8. While I have not had to wait in a line at JFK T4 to get into a SC, it is not hard to see how that could happen given the huge number of passengers that are now flying internationally.
    I have said for months that DL and Amex dumped too many club accessing cards into the market and I also agree that they are making some tough choices including to cut BE passengers even if being used by precious metals.
    And DL didn’t control the number of non-DL Amex cards that were issued so it is reasonable for DL to expect Amex to absorb some of the extra load that Amex caused – but the two did do the same thing. DL just happened to have much, much more lounge capacity to begin with.
    They will figure it out and the sheer number of cards out there means that there will be more than enough people for all of the ones that say they have had enough.

    And I was just in an SC the other night and within a 20 minute space, the place had no seats available to being 1/3 empty. Hub schedules do that. I’m not sure that it is necessary to totally walk away from the strategy given that there are very real peaks; some people might be kept out of the club during the peak but they could have gotten in 15 minutes later. So, most crowds can be crowded at some part of the day but it is not worth shutting down all access for some people to eliminate the peak crowding which will happen anyway.

    And both DL and Amex are making hundreds of millions more on the whole thing than AA or UA which is why they will try to find balance but aren’t about to walk away from their strategy.

  9. Children, Delta makes more money off their relationship with Amex then they do on paid seats. Last year they made 5.5 billion dollars off the Relationship. Stop bitching about platinum card holders taking up space in the lounge. It’s true Delta cares more about Amex cardholders then they do their Elites! GET OVER IT!!!!
    Remember you have a choice when you fly!!
    Either get the Amex Platinum card or the Delta Reserve card if you want first priority into the sky club lounges!

  10. BS .. aren’t your companies paying for you ? If you pay with your own funds then that’s one thing .. then you can complain. If you are working and someone buys your ticket … that’s another . I am a retired flight attendant and I pay for my access to clubs ., I buy expensive tickets.. if you are someone else’s dime get over yourselves. I was always encountering passengers that thought they deserved something because their job required them to travel .. so did mine .. whatever…

  11. Just FYI, those employees you’re annoyed at cluttering up the lounges are not freeloaders. They have paid for a membership, or a very expensive AMEX just like most other Club patrons. The only difference is that they don’t usually pay for their flights. When the airlines asked for big taxpayer handouts during COVID,, we learned that airlines are making more money from the cards than flying planes, often much more… So who should really get kicked out of the clubs? Delta has 80,000 employees. That’s potentially 80,000 cardmembers. Would they honestly tell an organization of that size that their employees were not welcome in their lounges?

  12. Sounds very master/slavery to me….your good enough to work in the big house but better not be seen here on your off day partaking in any of master’s things ….so you can work for them at any capacity but even if you invested well and have good credit you can’t use a lounge? So next you’ll say these same hard working people who serve you all everyday in any capacity at that airline shouldn’t be able to sit in first or business class either… all need to watch the movie The Help again and get over yourself. The last time I checked theses hardworking employees’s dollars spend just like everyone else. Just like you bought your way in why can’t they ?

  13. @Tim Dunn- the idea that too many eligible customers is something being foist upon Delta is silly, Delta did the contract and is earning unprecedented revenue from it, they co-designed the system and wouldn’t walk away from it if they could. Amex is their most important customer, not any given Diamond.

  14. Unfortunately, Delta Airlines passengers experienced a rejected takeoff roll on Delta 1943 to avoid a collision with American Airlines flight 106 at New York JFK. After coming to an emergency stop, passengers would be inconvenienced further by being forbidden to enter a Delta Sky Club or the American Express Centurion Lounge at JFK after their near-death incident. The Delta Airlines 1943 flight was scheduled for the next day. But, to help reduce overcrowding to enter a Delta Sky Club or the American Express Centurion lounge at JFK, according to the 3-hour access policy, “Customers will be able to access Delta Sky Clubs anytime within 3 hours of their scheduled departure time.”

    Passengers arriving back to JFK after an aborted takeoff could not enter the airline lounges because they were not within three hours of their new scheduled departure time. There should be a club access policy exception to the Delta SkyClub and the AMEX Centurion Lounge for survivors who narrowly avoided a jet crash. Passengers should have the opportunity to change their underwear and enjoy a complimentary adult beverage. Membership has its privileges.

  15. Gary,
    Delta does have control over how many cards it issues under its co-brand arrangement but it does not under the general Amex brand. Since the Amex platinum allows SC access and some have stated that it is the largest single card that is used for access to the SC, then DL is not totally in control of how many cards are used to enter the SCs.
    DL does get paid by Amex at least for non-DL co-brand cards and, as I noted, DL gets up to a half billion dollars per year in revenue so they do indeed make a bunch of money – but that isn’t the same as being in control of the situation.
    DL’s pressure on Amex to build its own lounges is undoubtedly a reflection that DL cannot solve the problem itself or have the capacity to handle all of the non DL co-brand cards.
    Because of the amount of money that both DL and Amex make, they will fix the problem – but they are going to take steps to limit access where they can.
    I’d love for you to be able to tell us the percent of each type of card and passenger type used for access to the SCs but I doubt if you can any more than anyone else.
    I’m also not sure how many other card/categories that DL can cut or limit but there are alot of DL employees that are upset according to some internet sites – which isn’t necessarily reflective of any population.
    I suspect that DL will reinstate employee access on some basis sooner rather than later.
    The issue seems to be as much about commuting crewmembers as passengers traveling on DL flights for pleasure – so perhaps DL should take some of the money those employees spent and build larger and nicer crew rooms.

  16. Interesting…I am a retired employee that has a platinum Amex…I have just as much right to be in the club as anyone else flying Delta. Those commenting on this need to remember who gets them where they need to go and stop whining. If I have a platinum Amex, it shouldn’t matter if I am flying stand by or not!

  17. Nothing’s exclusive anymore. Everyone wants all the same things at the same time. Everything is simply overcrowded. Everyone has some form of AMEX card. If an employee has access via their AMEX and paid for a TKT , or simply paid for access during their travels even on standby, so be it. Since it’s announcement people have been making it seem like employees were using the lounges during their lunch break or something

  18. For everyone complaining and [redacted -gl] on the employees that help you get you to where you need to be… check yourselves or FLY PRIVATE.

  19. The issue is two fold:

    – schedule and network planning coupled with a reduction in overall reliability – planes are on the ground longer due to a prolapsed schedule – add into that just enough disruption (delays, cancels etc) and there are more people “sitting around” than ever before

    – most ppl in there are not *paid* memberships – they are either gratuitous memberships for HVCs or AMEX PLAT holders … the issue is not employees (who have *PAID* for a membership just like a regular passenger) – in fact they are probably the one group who actually paid a membership fee

  20. You should be required to hold platinum or diamond membership in order to buy club the membership for 1 year.

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