Delta Planning Improved Business Class Check-in, Dedicated Lounge At LAX

Delta has talked for awhile about a special Sky Club for business class passengers at LAX. United has a Polaris lounge, American has Flagship, but Delta doesn’t currently have a lounge apart from its Sky Clubs (though those are in some cases nicer than their U.S. airline counterparts).

It was reportedly being built on the top floor of the terminal two and three connector.

An executive was talking a little too loudly in a Delta Air Lines Sky Club in Detroit. It sounds like Delta has terminated Sodexho contracts for running some clubs, and that Los Angeles is getting its differentiated business class lounge soon along with improvements to the Delta One check-in experience.

Bear in mind that this is only one side of a three-way conversation, so it’s not 100% certain which comments refer to check-in versus lounge. Here are notes from my correspondent, quoting the female executive (seems relevant because of the ‘boobs’ comment) sitting inside the club,

Delta One LAX Getting Special Coffee, Tea, Amuse bouche, and Champagne service

“We are getting horrendous feedback at Delta One LAX [check-in].” Uniform appearance, not consistently staffed, etc. “This has to happen right away. Rene does not want to wait. We need to get rid of the coffee in there. They want a Nespresso machine. The associate will offer to make and serve the coffee. We’re going to have to buy it retail at Williams-Sonoma. At least have the coffee service changed by the 24th [of August].”

“Chef Jon, we need an amuse-bouche. Something like melon on a skewer to serve them. It’s that canape, amuse-bouche kind of experience. Very elevated service.” “These are products, I don’t know where we’re going to get them from. Who’s going to do this in the kitchen? Lisa is horrible, she can’t do any of this.”

“What’s happening is we are being challenged to perform at a higher level. The people we have, while they are lovely people, don’t meet expectations of demanding guests. The other thing they want is every adult guest is offered champagne from a tray. So, the associate is going to have to know how to serve a glass of champagne. I don’t know if we can do that, but that’s what they want. Maybe little shooter glasses would work.”

“Do we have anybody that fills the bill now?” “Can’t we find some attractive young women with big boobs to serve champagne?” “So, we have to figure out how to get this Nespresso thing. It’s going to have to be Williams-Sonoma. I don’t know where else.”

“Yeah, I’m really looking forward to Heath getting there because he will be able to drive this. [The current manager] can’t. She’s never experienced this kind of refined service.”

…”I think what I’ll do is order the Nespresso and the logo cups and saucers and ship them to Rosa’s house. They want them implemented them in two weeks. I also want to do a tea called Tea Forte. Can we get that through Compass? We want that now.”

Sodexho Out Managing Clubs In Atlanta

“As you heard, we were awarded the Sky Clubs at Atlanta in the E and F concourses. They are the largest and nicest clubs — large footprints in Atlanta. Super nice. Both premium.” “Our transition date is November 1. Sodexo departs those clubs the 31st, the night the clubs close. I think midnight. Both clubs get about 2,000 guest per day. We are hiring 100 hourly associates, one GM, four AGMs and one chef. We’re also hiring maybe seven supervisors.”

“The good thing about this is Compass has funded us an open budget. About $200,000 for all the small wares, uniforms, office supplies. Looks like we’ll spend $260 or so. We have $450,000 to spend on everything else, including recruitment. As you know recruitment is a huge problem. On August 25, I’ve arranged for a career fair at Atlanta’s airport.”

“We have to hire a lot of people. The badging for Atlanta takes eight weeks, which is insane. We can’t wait to hire. We will hire people immediately and put them on payroll, then send them to Atlanta aquarium while they wait for their badge. Same for managers. They will come to you, stay in a hotel and work in a successful club first.”

I’ve reached out to Delta for comment and will update if they respond.

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. Why do all institutional catering places seem to be managed by Bon Appetit, Compass or Sodexho?

  2. What’s the source on this, Gary? Did you hear it yourself?

    Certainly some of the thinking, if this is legitimate, is a little troubling to hear from a top airline executive (female, no less). But putting that aside for a moment, are those the real names used? Googling them makes it pretty easy to assume who they are talking about. Some of the people spoken poorly of, though, might be wise to change (or omit) names given the sensitivity of what’s being discussed.

    Finally, I would be remiss to not point out that LaTisha Vinson, who works the LAX Delta One check-in experience, is one of the best Delta people I have met across the system. Her hospitality and warmth at the Delta One desk is what keeps me paying for upgrades if they don’t clear naturally leaving LAX. For this executive to not appreciate the true talent they have there is especially disheartening.

  3. Ouch – not only is there no journalistic integrity to this article (it’s all hearsay) but the posting of it is sure to get people fired. Not cool Gary. I wish you’d stick to just doing analysis of the industry. There’s no one better at that than you.

  4. I’m not convinced the complaining executive has experienced ‘this kind of refined service’ either

    Who wants a glass of champagne while you’re schlepping hand luggage

    What premium checkin pax want is a personal escort to the front of the security lane

  5. @Askmrlee

    I think the difficulty of a “concession” inside airports, train stations, motorways, leisure parks, etc… is that the company (most of the time it is required it needs to be a company and not a sole dealer for instance) have to adapt to seasonnality if there is in terms of what goods are needed or the number of employees needed, aswell as the amount of openning hours (sometimes 24 hours per day) and tons of other constraints.

    So at the end the airports are going to select the same type of companies. The ones you mentioned. And Dufry is almost everywhere for so-called duty-free shopping.

    It is not really an out of the box thinking.

    But try to create your own compnay in this sector: and no airport is going to select your company because it has no years of operating or the capital is too low.

  6. Better get that Williams-Sonoma order in asap. Their shipping is slow as sh*t.

  7. I’m sorry, but while some of the comments made were not ideal, I am more taken aback that you have stooped to this level. To get the word-by-word replay, you obviously recorded someone’s intended private conversation, and that diminishes your integrity and credibility.

    I also feel that this is a time when we should all be showing a bit more compassion and support of everyone in the hospitality industry. These individuals are showing up everyday during very challenging times with the goal of making our experience a little better.

    You have a great platform here, use it wisely.

  8. I have only been to a few Delta lounges but the quote “Can’t we find some attractive young women with big boobs to serve champagne?” made me wonder if that is a normal part of most Delta lounges.

    On my champagne tasting tours in Rheims, France, there were no women present meeting that description.

  9. Actually, this does not sound like a Delta executive talking but rather an executive from the company that Delta has hired to run the check in and lounges mentioned?

    For example in the bit about ATL, this person says “we were awarded the SkyClubs at ATL in the E and F concourses..” Why would a Delta employee or executive say they were “awarded” a Delta contract if they worked for the company directly?

  10. I fly out of LAX every Thursday and back in every Sunday evening or early Monday. I have excellent service by the staff at the lounge. Although I am thankful for hot food returning, I wish it wasn’t the same hot food every week. I fly delta one here and there. I never sit in the delta one lounge it is too small. the last thing I want to do while dropping my bags is grab food or drinks and head to security. I am a Diamond member and I would love a more private less crowded lounge. I am sure once terminal 3 is finished the lounge will be less crowded, hopefully the new lounge is better.

  11. This is uncomfortable to read. Clearly this person should have shared this criticism behind closed doors. It may be valid, but publishing this overheard conversation is just going to be hurtful to the staff who are being criticized.
    None of it is really newsworthy, but you could have paraphrased the more interesting parts like recruitment challenges in ATL and improving catering at Delta One checkin without repeating criticism of staff.

    “I’m just repeating what she said” is still mean.

  12. The first thing that came to mind when I read your comment about “big boobs” was the executive management at Spirit Airlines.

  13. @Ken A – that management is gone now, and by the way the exec the old ads reported up to – Barry Biffle – is now running Frontier

  14. There are so many things wrong with this article and lack of credibility and journalistic integrity are just a few of them.

    Kind of pitiful

  15. I was a Supervisor in the DTW Sky Club (former NWA Worldclub) for over thirty years. Recently retired due Covid. I can assure you this conversation does not represent Delta or our lounges. I suspect the Exec quoted is a Vendor.
    We set the bar high and strive to meet and exceed customer expectations. In almost all cases, we succeed. We care about our customers and we support Delta, which by the way, is a truly wonderful company to work for. This is a good reminder why we should always be aware of our surroundings and careful with our conversations.

  16. Excellent comment from the retired supervisor from DTW’s lounge for 30 years, Nancy Harvey I flew through there too often when I was a diamond during her tenure. … Never had a sense of the “big …. to serve champagne” attitude. Never got that sense on long haul flights. … The big spenders, incl males of whatever ages, are not there to get a date or reproduce. The one quoted person was just…out of sync with the reality of business air travel. … Very much enjoyed this post, Gary. Keep it up!

  17. I recently sent comments to Delta corporate regarding the sorry state of their LAX sky club lounge. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a nice reply and three $150 gift cards for me and my two family members. Seems like they are aware of the issues at least in LAX

  18. There really is NO excuse for including even first names of existing staff and it’s not a good reflection.on yourself to have done so. Tbh I’m not the only one saying it and the amount of people who seem to agree with me on this kinda make that end of discussion.

    That said next time I hear about the apparent issues regarding ‘misogny’ in the modern work place, especially if it comes from Delta, I’ll be using the quote about “girl with big boobs” coming from a female exec as a balance point. To hear that tabled as an idea in this day and age baffles me. To read that it, allegedly, came from a reasonably senior female exec just goes to reinforce something I’ve long thought to be a universal truth in that women will judge and speak of other women in harsher terms than most men would even consider doing so. ( NO I’m not saying men don’t do so but from decades of personal experience it rings true at least from what I’ve witnessed personally).

    This article,.and it’s non discretion, is hopefully a low point on your standards Gary. ” X isn’t capable of” would’ve been a lot better and at most would’ve required a “I’ve removed names for decency reasons” to be added, if even that as your readers would’ve known that X, Y or Z in an apparent quote signified a member of staffs name.

  19. As others have noted, this doesn’t at all sound like a DL employee speaking. It’s pretty clear who the individual overheard works for. Especially if you are familiar with Compass Group’s business model. A few quick web searches for job postings seem to corroborate it.

  20. You should remove this post. Your act of eavesdropping and recording is illegal. Really bad Gary. And frankly really insane to be intruding. Post legitimate information not your observation as a third party observer having no idea what is really going on. Not the kind of blog any intelligent person wants to read.

  21. Gary, I was at the Detroit club. I was sitting near you and the person you are talking about. The female executive. I was sitting in the back secluded area too. You were hanging so close behind that person’s back, I was about to call security. i think you may have been recording. What you did here is illegal. I am about to call the state attorney as this is criminal. I s recording a person’s conversation without their knowledge crime?

  22. @Williams Scott – I was not in Detroit, the conversation was related to me, and there was no recording (which wouldn’t be an issue in a one party consent state anyway)

  23. @gary any nuance aside how are you, respectfully, still trying to legitimise this article?! One party state or not this is, by your own words, 3rd party information. On the basis it apparently is then you’re at best quoting people based on 3rd person provided recordings. 1PS or no unless you have access to the original audio files and have verified their integrity then attributing quoted statements to person’s, who with the least amount of effort multiple people have already alluded to identity wise ( whilst having the decency not to name) , is at best on the precipice of libel.

    I was lucky enough to have spent decades working in security around the world for what we refer to as ‘talent’ and there was and remains one simple rule: What you hear ( short of criminality or imminent harm) you keep to yourself. I , could’ve retired,very comfortably for the rest of my days and with a nice house paid off aged 30, without doubt by 35, off the stories I could’ve shared but you won’t ever work again and your personal integrity will be mud forever. Are an extra 20k clicks really worth at least one airline potentially cutting you off forever, several others becoming aware and choosing to keep you at arms length lest you eavesdrop ( or take as gospel a 3rd parties comms) and the opinion of many of your long time followers taking a very dim view of your guttersnipe article?

    I don’t view myself as some bastion of moral greatness but at the same time if someone with a low opinion of themselves is suggesting maybe your article leaves a bitter taste in their mouth then possibly it’s a good time to ask yourself why they’re saying it.

    I won’t imagine to speak for anyone else, or suggest what you should do, but I’d respect you a lot more if you were to replace the article with a place holder along the lines of “…. after careful thought I decided to remove this article as it wasn’t up to my own standards” . I’m not some screaming banshee who will ever make demands to comply with my own view. I’ll judge you on your own actions rather than tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. You’re your own man do as you please. I’m my own man i’ll view you as per your own actions. (( before i’m accused of it. There’s no ‘passive-aggressive’ inclination here. It’s called one grown up saying how they see things to another grown up. Deal with that as you will, I won’t apologise for doing so))

  24. After reading this post I am aghast at the audacity in which you would ever think publishing a third party observation AKA “EAVESDROPPING” is ethical, intelligent or relevant. You should be ashamed of yourself Gary. You hurt people.
    This is slanderous! Whomever the female executive is should take the opportunity to file suit against you. Your source is a felon who was eavesdropping on a private conversation. I find you outrageous and disgusting. The airlines should consider keeping you at arms length as you are not reputable, you are a slanderer. I am sickened by you. As suggested previously by others remove the post and gain some dignity.
    I am very sad for you Gary.
    Female Executive-If you are reading this, respond to my post and I will help you pursue action! Don’t stand by!
    Further you are incorrect, One party consent means you can record/convey a conversation as long as you are a direct party to the conversation. In this case eavesdropping was the culprit. You nor your informant were party to this conversation. You and your malefactor are criminals. You have violated the law!
    Signed, A Strong Female Professional! Beware of Gary and his malefactor outlaws. The airport lounge environment lends to a comfortable and safe working space, but beware of Gary and his malefactor colleagues. They are lurking and sneaking.

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